Johnson, Jackson awarded Presidential Medallions


Professor Harley Johnson and MechSE alumnus were among 30 university leaders to receive the Presidential Medallion for their extraordinary response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Written by

Johnson, Jackson
Harley Johnson, left, and Bill Jackson

MechSE professor Harley Johnson, the associate dean for research in The Grainger College of Engineering, was one of 30 university leaders who have been awarded a Presidential Medallion for their extraordinary response to the COVID-19 pandemic. MechSE distinguished alumnus Bill Jackson (BSME ’82, MSME ’83), executive director of the Discovery Partners Institute, also received the honor.

University of Illinois President Tim Killeen honored the recipients of the system’s COVID-19 response with the Presidential Medallion. The medallion is the highest honor that the system president can bestow.

“I have never been more proud than I am today to recognize these colleagues and their leadership," said Killeen, awarding the first Presidential Medallions in his six years as president. "Their ingenuity and dedication and the hard work of thousands of their colleagues across the U of I System have saved lives on our campuses, in the surrounding communities, and well beyond. Their efforts have demonstrated in real time what the U of I System means to the people of Illinois and ensured that our response to the pandemic has been unlike that of any university system in the world. These initiatives are reflective of the power of the U of I System as a real force for innovation, positive change and the public good.”

The SHIELD test-and-trace system includes the non-invasive, fast and reliable saliva-based test as well as the companion mobile application to deliver test results, all developed at UIUC. The test has been successfully used since the summer of 2020. SHIELD Illinois was created to share the SHIELD system across the state. The test is now in use or being launched at numerous other colleges and universities, community colleges, public community testing sites, private companies and – thanks to funding from the state – more than 1,000 K-12 schools. Shield T3 was created to spread the technology outside of the state, and it is in use at a number of other universities, in school systems in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and at private companies and other organizations outside Illinois. In all, well over four million tests have been administered.

Share this story

This story was published August 29, 2021.