Accomplishments like the “Most Outstanding PhD Student” award in Mathematics and the Dean’s Award for UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences are just a few of Elizabeth Scribner’s accolades.
Elizabeth was born in Charlottesville, Virginia but grew up in Talladega, Alabama.
When she was 15, she went to boarding school at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. “There were so many academic opportunities, and the math and sciences were world class. I really enjoyed biology.”
Elizabeth looks back at St. Paul’s as the birthplace of her math and science passions. “It was great to be in an environment where it was actually cool for a girl to be smart.”
She then continued to Princeton where she got her undergraduate degree in history, focusing on the intersection of science and history.
Elizabeth married her college sweetheart right after graduating, not knowing what to do professionally. She decided to apply to be a substitute teacher, and became an algebra and geometry teacher all year. This is where she first found her passion for teaching.
She then went on and got her Masters in Math at UAB and is currently set to graduate this fall to become Dr. Scribner with her PhD. She also had 3 babies along the way!
Elizabeth helped her dad found a solar power and LED lighting company, Eagle Solar & Light, and gives presentations about sustainable energy to community groups. She’s also involved in helping her church and several nonprofits, as if she weren’t busy enough.
A normal day for this do-it-all-shero? Gets up at 6, gets her children ready for school, and then works on her studies as efficiently as possible. Her children are 5, 3 and 10 months old, so she spends every second she can with them.
Since she does so much, I asked what she would boil her main passions down to. “The common thread in everything I do is helping and teaching people.”
So, what exactly is she researching? “My research is centered on brain tumor growth. We could use this math model and predict a patient’s tumor growth.”
She encourages more people, especially young women, to pursue math. “People look at math and think it’s mundane or intimidating. Algebra may seem boring, but it’s a stepping stone. Algebra is what I’m working with now, which is applying math to curing brain cancer.”
Elizabeth encourages students to study math. “When you can get to those higher stages of math, it is so useful and rewarding.”
She is happy with her decision to study math, and encourages girls to give it a shot. “There are so many job opportunities for a woman with a math degree.”
And for how she got to where she is?
“Fate, luck, and willingness to try something new.”
It sure doesn’t seem like luck to me, after hearing how hard and endlessly she works. So for any young women that don’t want to do their math homework because it’s “nerdy” or “boring”, just think: you could be like Elizabeth, researching brain tumor cures!