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RISE Scholarships Awarded

September 16, 2015

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MACOMB, IL - Western Illinois University's Research Inspiring Student Excellence (RISE) program awarded 16 new student scholarships and 13 Purple and Gold Excellence Awards this past fall and summer, resulting in participation on national and regional meetings and lab and field research work conducted by science students.

The RISE program offers numerous scholarships, including the Biology, Chemistry and Physics Summer Scholarships, offered to two undergraduate students in each department for $3,000 each.

The Diversity Scholarship, for minority students awards $350. The Grad Summer Fellow Program offers $1,000 to graduate students, and the GRE award, also known as the Bridge Award, grants $350.

The Purple and Gold awards are given at the end of the session to students who have done exceptional work, and this is one of the most prestigious awards demonstrating student excellence during the academic year in research, service and professional development. RISE also offers Research Experience Award grants of $350 and a Travel Award grant of $900 for students to travel and present at research conferences.

The RISE program has several sponsors that include prestigious former faculty and alumni. For example, the establishment of those new scholarships was supported by P. James Nielsen, Frank Rodeffer and Margaret W. and Cecilia Wong and other anonymous donors.
Students in the physics, chemistry and biology departments were awarded scholarships. Six students received awards from the physics department. Daniel Halbe, a senior physics major from Beecher, IL, received the Diversity, Research and Travel Award. William Heidorn, a graduate student in physics from Sherman, IL, received the Bridge Award.

Students who received awards from the Grad Summer Fellow program were Hio Giap Ooi, a graduate student in physics from Malaysia; Alex Blanton, a graduate student in physics from Chicago and Emmanuel Adebayo, a graduate student in physics from Nigeria. The winner of the Frank Rodeffer Summer Research Experience were Nicholas Breslin, a senior physics and economics major from Galesburg, IL, and Halbe.

Five students received awards from the chemistry department. Hannah Drake, a senior forensic chemistry major from Charleston, IL, received both the Research and Bridge award. Melanie Washington, a senior forensic chemistry major Romeoville, IL, received the Diversity Award; Joshua Diaz, a senior chemistry major from Tinley Park, IL, received the Travel award; Rebecca Corbett, a graduate student in chemistry from Macomb, received the Grad Summer Fellow award and Bethany Esterlen, a junior forensic chemistry major from Macomb received the Summer Research Experience Award (REU) award.

Four students in the department of biological sciences received awards: Paris Hamm, an undergraduate student in biology from Macomb, received the Summer REU and Travel awards; Eric Haaksma, a senior biology major from Frankfort, IL, received Bridge and P. J. Nielsen Summer REU awards; Philip Scheibel, a senior biology major from Astoria, IL, received the Diversity and Research Scholarship and Samantha Cuthbert, a graduate student in biology from Tinley Park, IL, received the Grad Summer Fellow award.

Students in the chemistry department who received the Purple and Gold awards were Drake, Esterlen and Diaz. Students in the biology department that received this award were Hamm; Tariq Ahmad, a senior biology major from Macomb; Malaney Abel, a senior biology major from Bloomington, IL; Eliese Potocek, a senior biology major from Beacher Park, IL, Philip Scheibel and Aleshia Johannsen, a senior biology major from Erie, IL. Students that received the Gold award were Hamm, Ahmad, Abel and Scheibel.

For more information on the RISE program, or to apply for scholarships, visit

Posted By: Erika D Davis (
Office of University Communications & Marketing