Image of a cell

Elizabeth C. Crosby

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For outstanding contributions to comparative and human neuroanatomy and for the synthesis and transmission of knowledge of the entire nervous system of the vertebrate phylum.

Elizabeth Caroline Crosby’s path to excellence started early. By the time she began elementary school she had already read books ranging from Jane Eyre to The History of the French Revolution.

So it was no shock then that she would complete an undergraduate degree in mathematics in only three years. Or that in the decades after receiving her doctorate in anatomy from the University of Chicago that she would become one of the world’s foremost neuroanatomists.

Following her doctorate in 1915, she returned home to Petersburg, Michigan, and took a job with the local school district, where within two years she was named superintendent.

But her fame would grow after she joined the University of Michigan in 1920, where her research greatly expanded the available knowledge of the nervous system of vertebrates. She collaborated on a revision of the book, The Comparative Anatomy of the Nervous System of Vertebrates, Including Man, which became the go-to reference material in the field. At Michigan she was also consulted in neurosurgery.

In 1963, Crosby joined the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.

By Robert Warren