Skip to main content

NCSA Awards 16 Fiddler Innovation Fellowships to Illinois Students and Faculty

Greyed out image of a five person panel, with the text 'Fiddler Innovation Fellowship' with Illinois Block I logo

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a long-standing history of promoting and supporting endeavors that transcend traditional academic research borders. Today, 16 Illinois students and faculty received fellowship awards during the 2020 Fiddler Innovation Award virtual ceremony.

Each year, students from NCSA’s SPINREU-INCLUSION, and Design for America programs have the opportunity to participate in the Fiddler Innovation Undergraduate Fellowship. Undergraduate Fiddler Fellows are selected for their exceptional contributions to interdisciplinary research projects that explore new topics and innovation in their respective programs. Fourteen undergraduates from various fields—spanning astronomy, engineering, computer science, and community health—received a $1,500 Fiddler gift award and recognition for their achievements during the ceremony. The Fiddler Innovation Graduate Fellowship was presented to Ph.D. Student Colter Wehmeier and the Fiddler Innovation Faculty Fellowship was awarded to Clinical Associate Professor William Patterson.

This year’s undergraduate fellows contributed to projects that addressed multiple issues, from menstrual inequity across the nation, healthcare disparities, COVID-19 intervention protocols to redesigning wheelchairs to allow users to lead a more active lifestyle. The commonality between them is leveraging collaboration and technology to connect science, art, humanities, engineering, education, and research with creative expression to create innovative solutions for scientific, engineering and societal challenges.

Often, solutions for research challenges cannot fit within the scope of a single discipline. To have an award that explicitly provides resources for students to transcend traditional discipline borders and promote creative expression is priceless, and we are incredibly thankful to Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden for their generous contribution.

Donna Cox, eDream Institute Director, NCSA Chief Scholar and Advanced Visualization Lab Director

The Fiddler Fellowship is part of a $2 million endowment from Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden to the University of Illinois in support of the Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media (eDream) Institute at NCSA. In turn, this institute supports faculty and students who choose to step outside boundaries, pursuing innovative and multidisciplinary research at all levels. While the Fiddler Fellowship is a vital component of NCSA’s reputation as an interdisciplinary research hub, the financial award encourages students to experiment and offers them funding to continue their abstract thinking that could eventually change the world of research. Efforts, such as the eDream Institute, continue to uphold NCSA’s rich history of enabling innovation and discovery.

You can view the full list of recognized undergraduate and graduate students and faculty awardees below:

Fiddler Innovation Undergradute Fellowship


  • Saumya Agrawal, Computer Science & Statistics — “Health Disparities: Determination of Biomarkers to be Used in the Diagnosis of Cardiac Microvascular Disease in Postmenopausal Women”
  • Brian Chen, Computer Science — “AI System for Identification of Wildlife Species in Conservation Videos”
  • Ke Deng, Computer Science — “3D Biological Network Visualization”
  • Prannav Gupta, Computer Engineering — “Human Fall Detection” (Raspberry PI implementation of the fall detection system)
  • Kajetan Haas, Computer Science & Statistics — “Real-time Immersive Virtual Environments for Education and Learning”
  • Sarah Kishta, Community Health — “Gun Violence Sensor Research Project”
  • Aneesh Lodhavia, Computer Science — “Human Fall Detection” (Raspberry PI implementation of the fall detection system)


  • Mary Cook, Bioengineering — “Riding the Epidemic Wave: Nowcasting and Forecasting of COVID-19 in Illinois and Beyond with Various Intervention Protocols”
  • Sneh Pandya, Physics — “Weighing Black Holes with Deep Learning”


  • Angela Chan, System Engineering and Design — “Menstrual Inequity in the United States”
  • Anna Chi, Industrial Design — “Shift: Wheelchair Redesign”
  • Jiho Alexa Park, Mechanical Engineering — “Menstrual Inequity in the United States”
  • Ajaita Saini, Computer Science, and Statistics — “Menstrual Inequity in the United States”
  • Wen Kun Yuan, Industrial Design — “Shift: Wheelchair Redesign”

Fiddler Innovation Gradute Fellowship

  • Colter Wehmeier, Ph.D. student, Illinois School of Informatics

Fiddler Innovation Faculty Fellowship

  • William Patterson, Clinical Associate Professor, Illinois School of Music


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students and collaborators from around the globe use these resources to address research challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing many of the world’s industry giants for over 35 years by bringing industry, researchers and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

Back to top