Alex Frizzell, fourth-year in the College, 1991-2013

Alex Frizzell was driven to help others, calling upon what she learned as a student of environmental economics, an avid traveler and an aspiring physician. Frizzell, a fourth-year in the College who majored in economics, died Feb. 4 at the age of 21 in Hyde Park.

At the University of Chicago, Frizzell’s academic interests included the Arabic and Urdu languages and classes on economics, environmental sustainability and agriculture, where she researched land use in the Western United States and renewable energy.

“She was a very inquisitive student,” said Sabina Shaikh, an economics lecturer who taught Frizzell. “She always wanted to know more, to know how to take what she’s learning in class and apply it to her own personal interests.”

Chief among those interests were ecological conservation efforts in her home state of Idaho. Although born in Birmingham, Ala., Frizzell grew up in rural Idaho, rafting on the Salmon River and camping in the Sawtooth Mountain Range. Frizzell’s father, Tyler, said Alex also developed a keen interest in the economics of poverty while traveling with him to countries including Nepal, South Africa and Chile. 

At UChicago, Frizzell looked for ways to bridge those studies by exploring the economic incentives for businesses to be environmentally conscious. And as graduation approached, she began to consider a career in medicine, which her father, a neurological surgeon, said was a good fit.

“We spent 12 years together traveling the world and going to schools, talking to people, working in hospitals, and she wanted to understand how everything worked,” he said. “She had a lot of interest in equality, in terms of trying to eradicate poverty using economic as well as medical approaches.”

Friends and family members described Frizzell as thoughtful and insightful.

“She was the type of friend that would offer to pick you up at the airport, or would spend all her energy ensuring that your birthday party was fun,” added Gabe Pugel, a fellow fourth-year who was close to Frizzell.

Speaking at a memorial service for Frizzell in early February, fourth-year Alice Li said Frizzell often surprised her with the energy she devoted to helping friends in need. 

“One time I told her off-handedly that I was having bad dreams, and she came back from a trip that weekend and gave me a dream catcher she had picked up at the airport,” she said.

Her mother, Barbara, said Frizzell’s individuality came through whenever she talked about her plans for the future, which included clinical work in a hospital in Peru and enrolling in classes needed to apply to medical school.

“She was always planning,” Barbara Frizzell said. “She gave everything 110 percent.”

Frizzell is survived by her parents, Tyler and Barbara Frizzell; and siblings, Anna, Erin, Jon and Will.

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Alex Frizzell

Alex Frizzell

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