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NCSA Awards 2024 Fiddler Innovation Fellowship

Nellie Haug, a Carle Illinois College of Medicine student, was awarded the 2024 Fiddler Innovation Fellowship by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at a ceremony with the Technology Entrepreneur Center April 24.

The $10,000 fellowship is part of a $2 million endowment from Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to support the Emerging Digital Research and Education in Arts Media Institute. Based at NCSA, the eDream Institute awards exceptional, creative, and interdisciplinary students and faculty who propose significant projects that address cultural and global challenges using art, science and technology.

In 2023, Haug cofounded Cervicare as part of a multi-pronged effort aimed at improving access to life-saving cervical cancer screening, especially in underserved communities. Cervicare is a rapid bedside-screening test that detects biomarkers to accurately screen for cervical cancer in the hospital or even at home.

Nellie and her team identified a need in our healthcare system and set to work on creating an effective solution. That initiative and creative problem solving are hallmarks of what the Fiddler Innovation Fellowship exemplifies. We are very appreciative of Jerry Fiddler and Melissa Alden’s continued support of the Fiddler Innovation Endowment.

Bill Gropp, NCSA Director

The most common method of detecting cervical cancer is a pap smear conducted by a doctor and analyzed by a pathologist. Costs of the exam, proximity to a clinic and other factors in obtaining health services lead to a disproportionate population in underserved communities affected by the disease.

Cervicare is designed as a screening alternative that will help shrink that gap.

NCSA Director Bill Gropp congratulates 2024 Fiddler Innovation Fellowship winner Nellie Haug.

“I am deeply honored to be selected as the recipient of the Fiddler Innovation Fellowship this year for my continued efforts at the intersection of engineering and medicine, Haug said. “This award is especially meaningful given the multitude of impressive projects at CIMED and throughout the greater UIUC campus.

Over the past few years, my academic and extracurricular pursuits have laid the groundwork for the success of Cervicare, a venture aimed at revolutionizing cervical cancer screening. With a focus on providing an innovative at-home, self-collection system, Cervicare strives to enhance access to vital gynecologic screenings for all women.”

The Grainger College of Engineering’s Technology Entrepreneur Center, Gropp and NCSA Senior Research Coordinator Olena Kindratenko conducted a rigorous review to determine this year’s fellowship winner.

“Nellie has demonstrated dedication to the project by co-founding Cervicare, a start-up company, and building a devoted team around the project,” said NCSA Senior Research Coordinator Olena Kindratenko. “She has also demonstrated how the Fiddler Innovation Fellowship would help to advance the project. Nellie has specified that the fellowship will be used to manufacture prototypes for immediate proof-of-concept testing and to continue benchwork with biomarker discovery and lateral flow design. Her work aims to address disparities in cervical cancer screening by making the screening affordable and easy to take, which may potentially save many lives across the globe.”

Haug already has an eye on the future and is looking forward to further advancements in healthcare and medicine with the additional support from the fellowship.

“The funding provided by the Fiddler Innovation Fellowship will be instrumental in advancing Cervicare’s mission, accelerating prototype refinement and regulatory processes to bring the project closer to commercialization,” Haug said. “Alongside my co-founder Bhargavee Gnanasambandam and our exceptional team, I am eager to leverage this support to drive meaningful progress in healthcare innovation. Additionally, I intend to allocate a portion of the funding toward pursuing new ventures that intersect engineering and medicine.”

Check out the announcement from TEC and the Grainger College of Engineering for more on a full slate of student awards.


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing, expertise 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 innovative resources to address research challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been assisting 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.

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