Congratulations to Our Abraham Lincoln Fellowship Winners!

Congratulations to our two current students, Drew Fast and Ni-ka Ford, for becoming Abraham Lincoln Fellowship recipients for the 2016-2017 academic year!

About the Fellowship:

The goal of the Abraham Lincoln Fellowship program at the University of Illinois at Chicago is to increase the excellence and diversity of the graduate student body by attracting applicants who have overcome obstacles to achieve academic success, like President Lincoln himself, who by his words and actions forged the framework for America’s pursuit of freedom, equality and justice.

In the life sciences category for the award, there were only five second-round awards given this year, two of which were awarded to Drew and Ni-ka. The Abraham Lincoln Fellowship is one of the most distinguished awards that UIC offers to graduate students. Those chosen are students who are considered most promising, and most likely to make outstanding contributions to UIC and to their fields of learning.

About the Recipients & Their Research:


Drew Fast

“It is an honor to become an Abraham Lincoln Fellow. My research project seeks to investigate how to best visually present Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection prevention information to the Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH), ASL-using community by implementing a culturally and linguistically sensitive approach augmented with 2D and 3D animations. Current outreach methodologies fail to recognize the unique communication needs of this group, resulting in loss of information and poorer health outcomes in DHH patient health. Several studies have found that DHH individuals are visual learners and learn best via visual means; however, previous healthcare materials targeted towards this community often lack visual supporting materials (e.g., diagrams, illustrations, animations) that assist viewers in understanding complex scientific ideas. I believe that by combining instruction in ASL with didactic illustrations and animations, that we will see a significant increase in understanding and retention of HIV prevention information in our participants.”



Ni-ka Ford

“I am honored to be a recipient of the Abraham Lincoln Fellowship Award. My research Creating Educational Materials to Increase Participation in The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), focuses on ways to increase retention and participation among eligible children within the program, by educating low-income women on the health benefits of using WIC foods. The project consists of two components: educational illustrations that emphasize the importance of breastfeeding, as well as a healthy diet for children up to five years old; and a mobile application game that utilizes game-based learning techniques to reinforce healthier eating habits for children. My research gives me the opportunity to investigate how to create culturally sensitive visuals and interventions employing mobile phone technology to improve health behaviors. The expectation for my research is that recognition of the program’s value will decrease attrition in WIC eligible children.”




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