Centre alumna wins research award to boost rural health

Published 2:18 pm Monday, June 19, 2023


Centre College

Elizabeth Crouch has been excelling in the research world since earning a degree in financial economics from Centre in 2008.

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She was named a “breakthrough star” at the University of South Carolina just two years ago, and now she has netted a prestigious research award from a national organization.

So she’s dominating the business world as a financial manager or market analyst, right? Nope.

She’s making the world a better place for those who need a helping hand.

Crouch earned the outstanding researcher award from the National Rural Health Association. Her recent research has focused on health disparities within rural communities, as well as children in rural areas.

She was recognized for her work examining the health disparities experienced among rural and other vulnerable populations across their lifetimes, from adverse childhood experiences to Medicare utilization in older adults.

“I find this work deeply meaningful — I have seen firsthand some of the issues that rural people face, and it’s a relatively small group of people doing this work nationally,” Crouch said. “There are nine research centers across the country, but everyone is working on the same issues … Everyone wants to improve health status in rural America, and everyone is collaborative. I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Crouch works with community partners conducting interventions, such as home visits and abuse/neglect prevention. The goal is to understand the effects of childhood experiences and determine strategies to improve health outcomes and quality of life.

A Louisville native, Crouch said receiving a merit scholarship to Centre made it possible to attend, but it was through experiences with the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar Program (GSP) that she felt drawn to scholarly research examining the effects of childhood experiences.

“I was a Governor’s Scholar in high school and worked for GSP every summer in college and two summers in graduate school,” Crouch said, noting those mentorship experiences, combined with her experiences learning and growing both in and out of the classroom at Centre, spurred her interest in child and adolescent development.

Centre faculty and staff left a mark on Crouch during her time on campus and while studying abroad.

“I really liked math and loved economics classes at Centre,” Crouch said. “I studied with professors Bruce Johnson, Mike Fabritius, Bob Martin and Dave Anderson. The coursework didn’t feel like work — it was so fun!

“I studied abroad in London in spring 2006 and took two economics classes during that term. I also took environmental economics with Jamey Leahey and Dave Anderson in Hawaii during CentreTerm 2008,” she said. “Mike Fabritius changed my life course. He guided me through the graduate school application process, and I am forever thankful to him for his assistance.”

Crouch attended graduate school at Clemson University, earning a master’s degree in applied economics and statistics before receiving her doctorate in policy studies. She is an associate professor of health services policy and management at South Carolina and is also the director of the Rural and Minority Health Research Center at the Arnold School of Public Health.