U of I System president honors leaders of COVID-19 lab development


Photo courtesy: University of Illinois System Facebook

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — President Tim Killeen of the University of Illinois System honored 30 people on Friday for their leadership in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

University officials said Abigail Woolridge and Harley Johnson were given the Presidential Medallions. They were awarded for their important role in developing a prototype laboratory to process COVID tests as part of the SHIELD test-and-trace system. That was developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Abigail Woolridge is an assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering at UIUC. Harley Johnson is the associate dean for research in UIUC’s Grainger College of Engineering and a professor in its Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering.

Officials said 28 others were also awarded with Presidential Medallions for their leadership in pandemic response.

“The Presidential Medallion is given to individuals who support and bring distinction to the U of I System; enhancing and accelerating its ability to deliver on its mission in profound ways,” officials stated.

“The SHIELD test is crucial to our ability to keep our universities open and now to protect many thousands of people beyond those campuses. Without the fast, accurate results provided by these labs, none of this would be possible,” said Killeen. “The efforts of these leaders and thousands of their colleagues across the U of I System remain a source of great pride for me and for the system. Their ingenuity, dedication and hard work continue to demonstrate in real time the impact that the system and its three universities create for Illinois and its people.”

According to officials, the SHIELD system has the saliva-based COVID-19 test as well as a mobile app to help deliver test results. SHIELD Illinois was created to share the SHIELD system across the state. It is used at many colleges and universities, community college, testing sites, private companies and K-12 schools.

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