Rokwire Leaders Recognized with Award for ‘Research Response to Community Crisis’

Rokwire leaders were honored, along with other members of the University of Illinois, with the Research Response to Community Crisis Award, given by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

The award recognizes the innovative and immensely effective SHIELD COVID-19 testing program. The program developed one of the first COVID-19 PCR tests from saliva samples, and organized a way to do it at scale for the entire campus before the Fall 2020 semester.

As members of UIUC’s SHIELD leadership team, these Rokwire directors guided the development of the Safer Illinois app, which facilitated the delivery of health and COVID-19 test information, and provided communications with our local public health districts and campus facilities. 

Nick Vance, Manager of Data and Technology Innovation
William C. Sullivan, Director of the Smart, Healthy Communities Initiative
John M. Paul, Clinical Professor of Leadership, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship

The university’s SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell program combined a campus-developed saliva-based COVID-19 testing protocol with statistical modeling and the Safer Illinois mobile app for rapid results reporting and contact tracing. Students and employees were tested multiple times per week to maintain campus building access.

The approach resulted in zero COVID-19-related deaths or hospitalizations among the campus community when in-person operations resumed in the fall of 2020, and it prevented the spread of the virus to surrounding Champaign-Urbana residents.

“We are so proud of our innovative faculty, staff and students who mobilized to create the comprehensive SHIELD platform and ecosystem in record time,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Susan Martinis. “We are grateful for the APLU and our peer institutions who helped us think creatively about the resources, partners and enormous intellectual capacity that we could harness in Champaign-Urbana to protect our campus and greater community.”

The APLU is a consortium of 244 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations. It created the Research Response to Community Crisis Award “to recognize universities that have demonstrated flexibility and responsiveness by rapidly and effectively applying the university’s research expertise to meet community needs in a time of crisis,” according to a statement. The University of California, Davis, also received the award for its Healthy Davis Together campaign.