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WIU Senior Named Honorable Mention Winner of Barry Goldwater Scholarship

April 7, 2016

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MACOMB, IL - Western Illinois University senior Nicholas Breslin, a physics major from Galesburg (IL), has been named an honorable mention award winner in the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Breslin is also a student in WIU's Centennial Honors College.

Breslin is one of only nine college students in Illinois named honorable mention award winners. He is the University's second Goldwater honorable mention award winner in one year, with WIU senior Hannah Drake, of Charleston (IL), capturing the award in 2015.

Breslin he said he made the decision to study physics at Western based on a recommendation by his high school physics teacher, who is an alumnus of the department's graduate program.

"I quickly met Dr. Mark Boley (department chairperson) and much of the department and realized how much I could grow from the one-on-one experiences a school of Western's size can offer," said Breslin. "With the push during department meetings by Dr. Boley to get involved in research as soon as possible, I joined the nano-materials research group led by Dr. PK Babu."

Breslin said he grew academically in the setting of Babu's laboratory and was able to attend numerous conferences in the region. During these conferences Breslin won numerous awards for his presentations, which led to his first Goldwater application last year.

"Over the summer of 2015, I joined Dr. Ryan Gordon's low-temperature condensed matter research lab," said Breslin. "I conducted quite a bit of work over the summer and was able to assist in the set-up of the lab. During the fall, I gave a presentation to my department through the RISE program and presented at an American Physical Society Conference (APS) meeting at the University of Notre Dame. I applied for the Goldwater a second time with more research under my belt and was able to receive honorable mention."

WIU students are chosen to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship Program by the University's faculty members. Only four students per institution can be chosen to apply each year.

"Nicholas Breslin is a brilliant young scholar," said Rick Hardy, director of WIU's Centennial Honors College. "He has been an active leader in the Centennial Honors College and is most deserving of this significant national recognition."

Breslin said he does not believe he would have been able to attain the Goldwater honor at any school other than Western.

"This school provided me with scholarship opportunities so that I could actively participate in research endeavors, as well as allowing me to work very closely with the professor of the research projects and not just a graduate student like you might find at a large institution," he said.

After graduation from Western with a bachelor's degree in physics and a double minor in economics and mathematics, Breslin plans to seek a doctoral degree in condensed matter physics and become a university professor.

According to the program's website, the Goldwater Scholarship was established by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields (see

For more information, contact Hardy at (309) 298-2228 or via email at

Learn more about Western's Centennial Honors College at and about Western's forensic chemistry program at

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