Thursday, June 13, 2013

Leadership lived: International student develops research passion at UIS

University of Illinois Springfield chemistry major Ritesh Uppuluri wants to make a difference in the world. He’s focused on sustainable energy and healthcare research.

“I could benefit society in a big way, like finding a cure for cancer or finding good ways to harness renewable energy,” said Uppuluri.

The international student from Bangalore, India chose to come to UIS because of the hands on research opportunities available at the right-sized university.

“I felt it was a good place to start as an undergraduate because at big universities often we don’t get hands on research experience and we don’t get strong interaction with the faculty members,” said Uppuluri.

At UIS, he’s been able to work closely with chemistry faculty members on several projects, including research into the environmental aspects of nanotechnology.

“We are trying to remove nitrates in the environment,” he said. “Nitrates are pollutants in the agricultural soil, due to the runoff into lakes and rivers. When we consume the water it’s harmful.”

Uppuluri points to events, such as the Student Arts and Research Symposium, as helping him to grow as a student and develop leadership skills. The annual symposium gives students the opportunity to show off their work and receive feedback from their peers.

“I think that’s good exposure to express yourself and talk about your research interest and your specialty,” he said.

As he nears graduation from UIS, Uppuluri is applying for admission to some of the top 10 graduate science and engineering programs in the country. He credits the experience he’s gained at UIS for the opportunity.

“I think UIS is a great place for developing leadership, especially in science. I think it gave me good opportunities,” he said.

Uppuluri will spend the summer continuing his research at the University of Minnesota.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Leadership lived: Student serves as governor of statewide organization

Zachary Sullivan’s University of Illinois Springfield education has taught him that good leaders don’t always have fancy titles.

“I don’t mind playing the support roles, because I feel like it strengthens the organization and you can be an effective leader without having the front title of the organization,” said Sullivan.

In March, he was elected governor of the statewide Model Illinois Government (MIG) organization. It’s the first major leadership role he has held. MIG puts on a government simulation for over 300 college students each year at the state capitol.

“It’s a great title to bring back to UIS,” said Sullivan. “Eight of the last twelve governors have been UIS students, so it’s a great honor for me to bring this back to the University of Illinois Springfield.”

As a non-traditional student, Sullivan transferred to UIS after graduating from Blackhawk College in Moline. He chose UIS because of its location in the state capital and the hands-on experience it provides to students studying state government.

“I think going to UIS was by far the best decision I could have ever made,” said Sullivan. “I came to Springfield to study political science. That’s why I choose UIS.”

Sullivan has also helped lobby for university funding during the annual University of Illinois Day at the Capitol and is an active member of the College Republicans, the Global Issues Club, and Model United Nations student organizations.

He’s grateful for the abundance of opportunities offered to him as UIS and encourages others to take advantage.

“Basically (if) you come to UIS you will find your potential and will learn how to maximize your potential, while learning to be affective as well,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan graduated from UIS in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and plans to continue his education as a graduate student at UIS.