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Students in WIU's RISE program spent the summer semester conducting research in a variety of fields thanks to scholarship support from a group of alumni.
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RISE Students Present Summer Research at RISE Symposium

August 2, 2016

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MACOMB, IL – A group of about 15 Western Illinois University physics, chemistry and biological sciences students and faculty spent their summer in the field and in the lab, researching a variety of scientific quandaries.

Students and faculty who are part of WIU's Research Inspiring Student Excellence (RISE@WIU) presented their research findings during the RISE summer symposium Thursday, July 28 in Currens Hall. Research, in physics, chemistry and biology, ranged from looking at the microorganisms that impact grass seed to glass production and star formation.

The RISE program offers graduate and undergraduate biological sciences students an opportunity to have a faculty mentor guide them in their research. The relatively new program also offers a variety of student scholarships to help with research-related costs, including tuition and travel.

To participate in the RISE@WIU program, students must maintain a minimum 2.8 grade point average, work with WIU faculty on a research project and attend departmental seminars and monthly RISE meetings.

In addition to their research, RISE students also gathered weekly this summer to discuss other factors impacting college life and personal and professional development, ranging from social and financial aspects to how to choose a mentor or a graduate school program.

WIU biology graduate student Cedric Ndinga-Muniania said the program has encouraged him to be a better teacher when explaining scientific processes to students.

"If your going to teach someone else, you have to start looking at things differently," he said. "This program provides a good environment for teamwork and it teaches leadership skills. Students also learn how to become mentors."

Much of the research conducted by students this summer was made possible by a major scholarship donation to the RISE summer program by WIU alumni Margaret and Cecilia Wong and a scholarship by emeritus faculty member P. James Nielson. Alumnus Frank Rodeffer has also been a major contributor to the RISE program.

Students benefitting from research scholarships this summer include:

• Eliese Potocek, a graduate student from Beach Park (IL) - $3,000

• Ndinga-Muniania, a graduate student in biology from the Republic of Congo - $3,000

• Samantha Cuthbert, a graduate student in biology from Tinley Park (IL) - $2,500

• Nicole Szabo, a senior physics major from Springfield (IL) - $3,000

• Trey Bruton, a graduate student in physics from Topeka (KS) - $2,500

• Wei Siang Tan, a graduate student in physics from Malaysia - $1,500

• Onic Islam Shuvo, a graduate student in physics from Bangladesh - $1,500

• Amanda Hagen, a graduate student in chemistry from Lisle (IL) - $3,000

• Erik Sarnello, a graduate student in chemistry from Itasca (IL) - $2,500

• Samson Adeleke, a graduate student in chemistry from Nigeria - $3,000

• Janie L. Miller, a senior biology major from Sheldon (IL) - $1,500

• Matthew Gooch, a senior biology major from Albany (IL) - $1,500

• Lauren Coffey, a senior biology major from Iowa City (IA) - $3,000

For more information about the RISE program, visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing