Kristen Mills Honored With Prestigious NSF Award

by Mary Martialay on February 19, 2019


The National Science Foundation has awarded Kristen Mills, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer, a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award grant for her research on cancer cell growth. According to the award description, “The scientific impact of this work will be significant, as it will significantly contribute to the fundamental understanding of tumor growth and development—key questions that must be answered to allow future developments in cancer treatment.”

As the award description explains, when cells grow and divide, they push against a matrix surrounding them, creating a compressive force because of that constraint. Right now it is not known how that compression affects future cell division and growth, but diseases like cancer often grow in matrices that are stiffer than heathy ones. Mills’ research aims to understand how cells decide how much constraint-induced compression is healthy and how tumor cells act differently.

In addition to supporting Mills’ research, this award will also help fund educational and outreach activities aimed at engaging high school and college-level students in understanding the importance of biomechanics.

This prestigious award from the National Science Foundation is given to early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”