Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Research Provides Direction and Purpose For Undergrad’s Future Career in Neuroscience

Michel Companion | Undergraduate, Psychology and Neuroscience

In high school, Michel Companion’s goal was to pursue performing arts. “I got into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York on a scholarship. However, after some thought, I realized that I wanted to change the world, not just entertain it,” he said. “I knew a few students who went to IUPUI from my hometown of Elkhart, so I applied and made the move down to Indianapolis.” Michel Companion

Michel began his freshman year as an English education major, but after volunteering at George Washington Community High School he decided that his abilities might be better utilized in the sciences than in secondary education.

Once Michel made the move to science, everything came together, including his major. “I chose to move into the realm of psychology because of the mixture of science and liberal arts that ruled the field.  From there, neuroscience won over my intellect and my interest.  I found the mysteries of the human mind fascinating; particularly in the area of drug addiction.”

At IUPUI Michel has found many opportunities to explore his interest in neuroscience. Over the last two years Michel has served as an undergraduate research assistant for Stephen Boehm, Ph.D., director of the undergraduate neuroscience program in the School of Science. In Boehm’s lab, Michel studies the neuroscience of addiction, looking at genetic and physical traits and their effects on cocaine sensitization.

“My proudest experience in my college career has been my work in the addiction neuroscience lab,” he said. “It was not until I joined this lab that I found what truly held my interest.”

Michel also has been involved and often taken on leadership positions in many student organizations such as the Student Activities Programming Board, Psychology Club, Apartments on the Riverwalk Council, Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, and the Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Eta Sigma honors societies.

“Being able to take on a leading role in an organization is one of the most stressful but rewarding experiences.  You get to learn a lot about yourself and how to handle stressful and detailed situations.”

In his free time, Michel enjoys spending time with his rescue dog, Houston. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical research with a focus on neuroscience. He hopes to be involved in research exploring possible preventative measures for fetal alcohol syndrome.

“My experience at IUPUI has prepared me to be an independent individual,” Michel said. “I am able to derive my own ideas and synthesize new ideas from the work of others.  Looking at my academic, laboratory, and leadership experience, I would say that IUPUI has helped teach me how to step up and take the reins for a new generation of leaders and innovators.”

-Whitney Walker, Interdisciplinary Studies '16