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.

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