Growing up, University of Pittsburgh bioengineering student and ARCS Scholar Alexis Nolfi always considered herself to be a little different. And she never thought of that as a negative.
“My family members excelled in the fields of arts and music, but I was more content to be outside exploring in the woods, fascinated by the animals, insects, and plants that I would encounter and marveling at the natural, biological, and mathematical world around me,” she said. “At the age of eight, when my friends longed for Barbie dolls, I recall writing Santa a very lengthy and compelling letter about why I should be the recipient of the ‘My First Microscope’ set for Christmas that year.”
That love of science has constantly evolved to today, when we find Nolfi working toward a PhD and exploring women’s health applications, including the goal of providing options to the polypropylene mesh often used in pelvic surgery which causes complications for some patients.
"For me, the impact of the ARCS award on my work and research has been peace of mind knowing that my time is protected and reserved for devotion to my research,” said Nolfi, who has battled autoimmune ailments since childhood. “The award has enabled me to offset costs associated with my health conditions rather than worrying about finding other forms of employment, which would have taken time away from other endeavors and created additional stress. For this, I am very grateful.”