University of Illinois chemistry student Philip Kocheril was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years in recognition for his potential to contribute to the advancement of research in the natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering.
According to David Schug, the director of the National and International Scholarships Program at Illinois, “Our campus committee unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed Phil based on his proven initiative, deep research experiences—resulting in first- and second-authored publications and national presentations—and extraordinary letters of support.”
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Goldwater, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The program encourages the continued development of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to sophomores and juniors from the U.S. who intend to pursue doctorates. The scholarship provides recipients $7,500 annually for tuition, fees, books or room and board.
Kocheril, of Champaign, is a third-year chemistry major with a minor in music. He aspires to obtain a PhD in chemistry and conduct research in a university setting. While attending Champaign Centennial High School, Kocheril worked with former U of I chemistry and astronomy professor Benjamin McCall performing mid-infrared spectroscopy on molecular ions found in the interstellar medium. In fall 2018, he joined the drug-discovery project of chemistry professor Steven Zimmerman and designed, synthesized and modeled potential small molecule therapeutics for myotonic dystrophy.
Kocheril is a member of both the Campus Honors Program and the James Scholar Honors program at Illinois, with a perfect 4.0 GPA. An avid musician, Kocheril is a member of professor Tito Carrillo’s jazz trumpet studio, and he composes and performs jazz with numerous ensembles.
This year’s 496 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of their demonstrated leadership and academic promise in the fields of science or engineering. The Goldwater Foundation doubled the number of grantees this year as the result of a partnership with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs. Over 5,000 students across the country submitted applications, of which 1,223 mathematics, science and engineering students were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.