When the NCAA promotes the notion of a student athlete, they do not immediately think of ARCS Minnesota Scholar Lizzy Crist as a poster child, but perhaps they should. Crist has already completed her undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis, and was named the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year, in honor of her work in the laboratory and on the soccer pitch.
This past fall she completed rotations in the Biomedical Engineering PhD program at the University of Minnesota and elected to join Dr. Dave Wood’s Living Devices Lab where she will focus her doctoral thesis on developing microfluidic devices to study cancer cell migration. This research provides Lizzy with the opportunity to build upon her undergraduate work from Washington University. As a member of Dr. Steven George's Transport and Tissue Engineering Lab at Washington University, she designed and conducted experiments to study the role of mechanical deformation induced by cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) on blood vessel growth associated with tumors. Published in Scientific Reports, the results from her studies helped elucidate possible explanations for increased vascularization around tumors, shaping future therapies to target tumor progression.
Outside the lab, Crist’s steadiness and reliability helped carry her Washington University team to an NCAA national championship in 2016 and three conference championships. She was also the 2017 recipient of the Division III Honda Athlete of the Year Award, given to the nation’s top female athlete in the division. Crist was named the D3soccer.com Goalkeeper of the Year in two consecutive years, and in 2016 was named the National Player of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
“Receiving the support of ARCS Foundation as a scholar award recipient has greatly contributed to my development as a scientist,” Crist said. “As I am able to afford living closer to campus, I am able to spend more time in the lab conducting experiments and in the classroom studying for exams. Additionally, I have been integrated into a network of professionals that provides a unique opportunity for connecting with experts in my field and across disciplines. As my career unfolds, these resources provided by ARCS will continue to positively impact my professional development, enabling me to reach my full potential as an individual and scientist.”