Margaret Call: Pathfinder


Finding your path in life is rarely as simple as a 90-minute coming-of-age movie might suggest. It’s often slow, requires a good deal of trial and error, and can persist deep into the stages of a person’s life.



Margaret Call found herself facing this age-old dilemma while sitting in an advisor’s office in junior high. They went through the motions, discussing Margaret’s interests and ambitions, until landing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics.) Her advisor suggested ACCESS Scholars, a first-year community, research and scholarship program committed to advancing gender equity in STEM at the University of Utah. The suggestion stuck around in Margaret’s mind until senior year of high school when she decided to apply with her eye on picking chemistry as her major on a pre-med track.

As a research-oriented person, Margaret found the opportunities ACCESS offered appealing, even if she wasn’t going to end up under the research umbrella. Keeping her options opened ended up paying off.

The ACCESS Experience

ACCESS kicks off the summer before classes start with a two-week live-in component. Students learn what the College of Science and the U have to offer while getting to know their cohort. For Margaret, this was the highlight of the whole experience.

“The chance to explore the university campus for a couple of weeks helped me to feel comfortable as a student in knowing where I was and what I was doing,” said Margaret. “It was through the summer portion that I made my best friends in college. There is honestly no substitute for making friends in a space where you have common interests and experiences. I know that they have my back when things are difficult, and they understand even the parts related to being a woman in a male-dominated field.”

Beyond finding a community, Margaret found her path through education. A capstone project and environmental science curriculum helped her discover a passion for climate science and policy.

“The summer coursework changed my entire college pathway. I would never have arrived in the geosciences without it. The space to explore different fields that I hadn’t wasn’t aware of in a low-risk environment allowed me to consider pathways I didn’t even know were available.”

18 Months Later

Margaret, now a sophomore in geoscience and geophysics, and over a year removed from the summer component of ACCESS, has dived deep into the world of research. She joined Pete Lippert’s lab in the Utah Paleomagnetic Center, working on an air quality project. The project, an “intersection between atmospheric science, climate science, and geoscience,” as Margaret puts it, works to “understand if biomagnetic monitoring techniques could be used to accurately measure particulate matter in the air.”

It's a sensitive process that can detect major inversion events as well as the difference in air quality in locations 20 feet from each other.

In addition to this research, Margaret stays busy with her work as a Science Ambassador, giving tours to prospective students looking to find their own path, and helping produce the Talking Climate Podcast hosted by the Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy.

A Bright Future

“My ultimate ambition, at the moment, is to become some form of researcher,” said Margaret. “Whether that’s through a more academic pathway or through a different laboratory setting, I would really like to eventually be studying climate through a geological lens.”

Her current interest is in the details that landscapes and rocks hold about Earth’s past climate. It’s a path that she credits ACCESS in helping her find.

“ACCESS was one of the single most important things to my success in college. I have made so many incredible connections through the program, to students, professors, mentors, and more that will shape the resources that I am able to access. It helped me to remember to keep an open mind when considering pathways, and now, three majors later, I think I’ve finally found it.”

Perhaps finding your path life is a constant, never-ending journey we’re all on. Thanks to ACCESS Scholars, Margaret got the jumpstart her future needed.


by Seth Harper

Interested in applying to the ACCESS Scholars program at the University of Utah? Click here