Students, faculty and alumna receive IINSPIRE awards


Upper Iowa University students, alumna and faculty members attending the 2018 IINSPIRE Conference in Coralville, Iowa, were (l-r) Md. Manzoor Murshed, associate professor of management information systems; Excellence in Mentoring honoree Dr. Rebecca Schmidt, UIU Assistant Professor of Biology; Dr. Katherine McCarville, UIU IINSPIRE Alliance Campus director/associate professor of geosciences; Elyse (Tyson) Hobson; Dwayne “DJ” Emsweller; Outstanding Alumni Award recipient Hayley Vaughn; Experiential Poster honoree Zory Hamblin; Omeiza Suleman; Experiential Poster honoree Erik Zorrilla; Mariel Galvan; Madelaine Quistgaard; Dr. Nigel George,UIU professor of mathematics and physics; Marisol Rodriguez.

FAYETTE, Iowa (February 14, 2018) – Upper Iowa University (UIU) students, faculty and an alumna member were recently recognized at the annual Iowa Illinois Nebraska STEM Partnership for Innovation and Research and Education (IINSPIRE) Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Conference in Coralville, Iowa.

Zory Hamblin, a junior forensic science major from Worthington, Minnesota, placed first and Erik Zorrilla, a senior biology major from Miami, Florida, placed second in the Experiential Poster Division.

Hamblin’s entry, entitled “What I Learned in Forensic Science,” was created to help other students better understand lab procedures in the field of forensic science. Meanwhile, Zorilla’s “SVYM Internship Experience” entry featured the positive social impact that the SVYM (Swami Vivekanada Youth Movement) has had on over 2.5 million people in Karnatka, India. The UIU senior was honored in each of the four years he participated at the conference.

In addition, UIU Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Rebecca Schmidt was honored for Excellence in Mentoring and UIU alumna Hayley Vaughn of Fayette, Iowa, was presented the Outstanding Alumni Award at the annual event.

Schmidt was recognized for participating in the faculty development portions of the annual IINSPIRE LSAMP Conference. Schmidt has been active with the LSAMP program as a research advisor since working with Zorrilla when he was a first-year student. An alumna of Mayo Clinic’s graduate school, Schmidt coordinates LSAMP visits to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  In addition to organizing the events, she actively involves her cancer biology class.  Schmidt’s commitment to LSAMP is now witnessed across the entire UIU School of Science and Mathematics. 

 A 2015 UIU graduate, Vaughn participated in UIU campus LSAMP activities and in November 2013 presented an experiential poster entitled “A Journey of Exploration: Seeking a Future in the Intriguing and Interesting Field of Genetics” at the annual conference. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Vaughn was later accepted to the University of Iowa Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program and in 2017 began studying for a Ph.D. with the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics at University of Iowa.

“The entire University should be proud of each of our award recipients,” Dr. Katherine McCarville, UIU IINSPIRE Alliance Campus director/associate professor of geosciences, said. “Hayley, Zory and Erik are just a few examples of how are students capitalize on the opportunities given to them and continue to build on those experiences as they further develop as leaders in the classroom and beyond.  One of those faculty members who tirelessly advocates for our students and LSAMP is Dr. Schmidt. She is definitely a respected mentor among our students and richly deserves this honor.”

IINSPIRE is a LSAMP program funded by the National Science Foundation. The alliance brings together 16 two-year and four-year colleges and universities that are working to broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the Midwest. Participating institutions collaborate to support and increase the success of students and provide students in the alliance with academic, research, training and mentoring opportunities, including scholarships and research stipends.

In addition to McCarville and the honorees, UIU students and faculty members attending the 2018 IINSPIRE Conference were Md. Manzoor Murshed, associate professor of management information systems; Dr. Nigel George, professor of mathematics and physics; Elyse (Tyson) Hobson, a freshman mortuary science major from Fayette, Iowa; Dwayne “DJ” Emsweller, a freshman biology major from Valrico, Florida; Omeiza Suleman, a senior mathematics major from Rockford, Illinois; Mariel Galvan, a freshman biology major from Chicago, Illinois; Madelaine Quistgaard, a junior forensic science major from Bloomington, Illinois; Marisol Rodriguez, a freshman mathematic major from Chicago, Illinois.

About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, nonprofit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to about 5,200 students–nationally and internationally–at its Fayette campus, 21 U.S. locations, as well as a location in Hong Kong. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree program. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit

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