ACCESS: Sarah Lambart

'ACCESS'ing Geology & Geophysics

ACCESS Scholars faculty liaison, Sarah Lambart, initially got involved in the program because she wanted to host students in her lab. An Assistant Professor in Geology & Geophysics at the University of Utah, Lambart wanted to offer hands-on activity in small research projects that students could actually work on during the semester. "I really liked working with ACCESS students. [They are] very smart ... very enthusiastic, very curious about learning new things, and so when they created this faculty liaison position, it's something I knew I would be interested [in].”

As principal investigator (PI) of the MagMaX Lab, recent projects have included working of the cause of excess magmatism during the Northeast Atlantic breakup (IDOP Expedition 396), magma genesis and transport, quantifying the mantle heterogeneity and the implications for the Earth dynamics, and, more recently, better understand the formation of critical minerals and ore deposits. If this sounds like an intense program focused on the chemistry of Earth and planetary interiors, it clearly is, especially with her emphasis on the role of magmatic processes during the differentiation and chemical evolution of terrestrial planets. "I use experimental devices such as piston-cylinders and one atmosphere furnaces to simulate high pressure-temperature conditions relevant for planetary interiors as well as various analytical techniques. Those highly-specialized techniques are designed to characterize synthesized and natural samples. "Because one limiting aspect of solid-media apparatus is that all experiments are performed in closed-systems," she writes in her research statement, "I also use innovative experimental strategies to investigate new topics." Those strategies include simulation of magma circulation and magma-rock interaction or melt segregation. The lab team also uses thermodynamic modeling to extrapolate the data they collect and/or as support for semi-empirical models.

It's exactly the kind of rigor that an ACCESS Scholar interested in earth sciences can sink their proverbial shovel into or their underwater collection implements from the bottom of the sea. (More on that later.)

But Lambart's mentoring and department-based liaisoning with ACCESS has a very human side as well. “So first, I am a woman," she says about a STEM discipline that historically has been male-centric. "But I was also a first-generation student.." Currently, most of the students in her team are also "first-gen." "I understand what challenges you might have when you don't necessarily know how the system works. I'm also from France, and so when I arrived in the US, I didn't know how the system worked. I think providing this opportunity very early on in ... [a student's] career, in their degree, can actually really make a difference at the end. So that's why I was very happy to contribute to this program.”

As a faculty liaison, Lambart coordinates the summer activities that take place in Geology & Geophysics, meets with a group of students on a monthly basis for mentorship, and serves on the selection committee. She has hosted three ACCESS scholars in her lab to date.

Expedition 396 women scientific team. From left: Sarah Lambart (Petrologist, University of Utah, USA), Weimu Xu (Sedimentologist, University College Dublin, Ireland), Stacy Yaeger (Micropaleontologist, Ball State University, USA), Sayantani Chatterjee (Inorganic Geochemist, Niigata University, Japan), Marialena Christopoulou (Sedimentologist, Northern Illinois University, USA), Natalia Varela (Paleomagnetist, Virginia Tech, USA), and Irina Filina (Physical Properties Specialist, University of Nebraska, USA). (Credit: Sandra Herrmann, IODP JRSO) [Photo ID: exp396_254]. ^^ banner photo above: courtesy of Sarah Lambart.

A native of Rennes, France, Lambart earned her doctorate from Clermont Auvergne University in 2010 followed by work as a postdoctoral research fellow at first Caltech (2010-2013) and Columbia University (2013-2015). She then took an appointment as a visiting assistant professor at UC Davis (2015-2016. In 2017, she became a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at Cardiff University in Wales, before landing at the U in 2018. She first got interested in her current research as a child; she had a picture of a volcano in Costa Rica in her bedroom that she had cut out of a National Geographic magazine. In high school she decided she wanted to pursue her passion for volcanoes through research.

"From our observations of the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands," says Lambart, "to the discovery of submarine volcanic chains (i.e., mid-ocean ridges) by Marie Tharp more than seventy years ago, we know that our planet is shaped by plate tectonics and magmatism. Combining geochemistry, experimental petrology and thermodynamic modeling, my lab produces innovative tools to constrain the role of crustal recycling, one of the motor of plate tectonics, on the nature of the mantle source of magmas." She remarks that, because of familiar models, most people do not know that the interior of the Earth is actually the color green, not red. "Most representations of the interior of the Earth in textbooks show it red to express the high temperature environment. However, the mantle is dominated by a rock called peridotite that is mostly made of olivine and pyroxenes, two green minerals," she says. (Click here for a 3D picture of a peridotite, as part of the U's Geo 3D rock collection.)

Recent research from Lambart's MagMaX lab includes an article by former student Otto Lang MS'21 on a new approach to constrainthe mineralogy of the magma sources. "I was [also] lucky to be involved in a recent publication on recommendation for sharing F.A.I.R (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) geochemical data," she says. Her work has taken Lambart to, literally, the far ends of the planet. Insights from results obtained during IODP Expedition 396, on which Lambart has sailed on, were published in 2023. (IODP is an  international marine research collaboration that explores Earth's history and dynamics using ocean-going research platforms to recover data recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks and to monitor sub seafloor environments.) Finally, a highly anticipated paper is expected soon by Ashley Morris, a doctorate student in Lambart's group who worked on an early Eocene dacitic unit collected during the same expedition.

ACCESS Scholars is about the whole being greater than the some of its research parts. The program's signature is to meld academic work with networking, mentoring and work/life balance, a unique undergraduate amalgam in which creativity is paired with analytical inquiry and where experiential learning, in all its forms, is at a premium. As an ACCESS faculty liaison in Geology and Geophysics, Sarah Lambart is no exception. "I love hiking and visiting national parks," she says of her life outside the lab. "During my professional training, I had to cross the country twice. My husband and I used this opportunity to visit as many national parks we could. So far, we visited 32, many multiple times! And I’m sure we will continue to explore new parks in the future."

Sporting an adventurous ethic—from the Atlantic seafloor to 32 of the likes of Yosemite National Park—Sarah Lambart is poised to mentor future Earth scientists at the U.

By David Pace and Seth Harper

ACCESS: A Tale of Two Researchers

ACCESS: A Tale of Two REsearchers


The first thing Isabella Scalise noticed when she joined the 2022 ACCESS Scholars program was a feeling of empowerment. How could she not?

Surrounded by a cohort of ambitious scientists-in-training, and under the supervision of women ecstatic to help her find success in her passions, Isabella was taking a huge step in realizing her middle school dream of conducting cancer research.

Wide-eyed middle schooler

It all started with her grandpa’s colon cancer diagnosis. Isabella, a wide-eyed middle schooler at the time, was driven to learn as much as she could. She started taking a cancer and genetics class at Providence Cancer Institute during the summer and found a particular interest in precision medicine, which accounts for an individual’s genetics, environment and lifestyle when crafting a game plan to fight diseases — like cancer. This interest only grew after starting at the U when another family member started experiencing resistance to therapies targeted to treat her cancer.

When it came time to join a lab, an integral part of the ACCESS experience, the Kinsey lab at the Huntsman Cancer Institute made perfect sense.

“The scientific questions being pursued in the Kinsey lab deeply resonate with me,” says Isabella, now a sophomore studying honors biology with minors in mathematics and chemistry. “We work to overcome primary resistance mechanisms to targeted treatments.”

And who was waiting there with open arms, ready to mentor Isabella? A 2017 ACCESS alum.

A Life-Changing Lab

Sophia Schuman describes her ACCESS experience as “eye-opening.” She discovered the program while searching for scholarships and found herself spending the summer of 2017 with a cohort of 24 women, already passionate about Sophia’s interests.

Isabella (left) with Sophia, in the lab together. ^^ Banner photo above: Sophia (left) with Isabella.

"You got to go to college early, live on campus, get exposed to all the sciences. I applied immediately, and I was so excited to hear back,” Sophia explains. “It was the driving force, the reason that I came to the U. I didn't have issues finding my classes on the first day of school because I had already been here, and it felt like this was home a little bit.”

Sophia wasn’t placed in the Kinsey lab, but she says Conan Kinsey, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the lab, found her and “changed my life forever.”

Like Isabella, Sophia had a personal connection to cancer as she had watched someone close to her fight pancreatic cancer. Sophia was amazed by how well the patient’s body held up during the experience, which piqued her own interest in cancer research and drew her to the lab.

“The Kinsey lab brought me into so many different opportunities,” she continues, “but it also taught me so much about how to think, how to be a professional in the industry.”

Part of that professional experience included mentoring, which is where Isabella comes into the equation.

A holistic understanding

The pair combined their shared passion to perform research on autophagy, a primary resistance mechanism to targeted therapies for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). During this time, Isabella learned the details and mechanisms behind the procedures they performed, learned how to derive the right scientific questions from their work and even came to understand how the work they were doing fit into the big picture. Along the way, Sophia would send Isabella educational materials that helped her develop a holistic understanding of the science.

“I always felt comfortable asking Sophia questions. She’d always take the time to answer them very thoroughly and when I made mistakes, making sure I learned from them. I've never felt ashamed for making a mistake.”

Isabella said that working under Sophia’s guidance created a comfort in the lab, and Sophia seemed to enjoy it just as much.

“Isabella came in very interested, very teachable and obviously passionate about the work behind it. As well, it was fun having another woman in the lab. I saw a lot in her that I saw in myself. She's willing to stay until the work is done. She asked a lot of really good, intuitive questions, even from the get-go with having very basic concepts and understanding of science.”

The duo no longer works together, but they’ll always be connected by the Kinsey lab, a shared love for research, and ACCESS Scholars.

By Seth Harper

ACCESS: Margaret Call

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

Emily Bates, BS’97

It just so happened that the day that the University of Colorado closed down its labs, including Dr. Emily Bates’, she was in labor giving birth to her second child. “I was having conversations with my students about what we needed to do from the hospital bed,” she says. “My husband could not join me for the birth of our son. Our daughter couldn’t meet her brother at the hospital. As soon as it looked like our son and I were healthy, we were sent home.”

Needless to say, the research in Bates’ lab where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, (Developmental Biology) at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, slowed considerably. “We have not had the opportunity to bring new undergraduate and high school interns into the lab this summer like we usually do, but we have continued to work with one high school student and one undergraduate doing some data analysis from home this summer.”  The lab currently hosts four graduate students as part of the team, but only two people are allowed in the lab at a time.”

At the University of Utah the ACCESS program was key to her success, providing her a cohort of women who were friends and study partners. Established in 1991, ACCESS, a College of Science program now in its 30th year, provides freshmen and transfer students, from a variety of backgrounds, with a scholarship and a supportive path into STEM degrees and careers. For Bates, the program encouraged, she says, “role models to normalize being a woman in science.”

While a scholarship and the rigorous undergraduate research program were main factors in her selection of the School of Biological Sciences, she recalls how fortunate she was to get the right research mentor.  That mentor was Dr. Anthea Letsou in Human Genetics on the University Health campus. “I learned how to test a hypothesis from her, how to use flies to learn about developmental signaling, and how to read a scientific paper.” Perhaps equal to the actual science, Bates learned how to present her research to others. Letsou, she says, “had more confidence in my potential as a scientist than anyone I had met. It was because of her encouragement that I applied to top tier graduate schools.” The whole experience—of the research mentor coupled with ACCESS—gave her confidence and “really jump started my career.”

Photo credit Andrew Silverman

It takes a combination of targeted programs, mentoring and true grit on the part of every student to succeed as Bates did at U Biology. Along the way, she ran cross country for the U her freshman year before turning to marathons (She’s run 18 of them, including as a US representative in Kenya.) Bates credits the unique environment at the U which converged for her, facilitating her graduation in 1997 with a BS and her acceptance to Harvard University for graduate school where she earned her PhD. Returning to Utah, she taught at Brigham Young University for four years before accepting her current position at Colorado.

That was, of course, before COVID-19 reared its head and certainly changed the vector of how she is pursuing her career in pediatrics. She advises students to find a research opportunity with a good mentor and “stick with it,” even during the pandemic. There are skills that can be acquired “at home,” she continues, “that would be useful in labs as soon as they open. For example, learning to critically read a scientific paper, or write programs (in Matlab, R, or Python) to interpret data would be useful in a lot of labs right now.”

In the meantime, she and her family are settling in on the other side of the Rockies from Salt Lake City until a “new normal” makes its appearance. “Luckily,” she says of that singular time in the hospital virtually alone and delivering a child, “my mom had flown in before everything shut down, so she could help us for the first couple of weeks. But other family members have not felt safe flying to visit and meet the newest addition.

“Personally, that has been the hardest part of this pandemic.”

      You can read about the history of the ACCESS program here

by David Pace

History of ACCESS

Since its inception, ACCESS has evolved and now reflects contemporary values and our increasingly globalized society by supporting students from all backgrounds and dimensions of diversity. 

Originally named the ACCESS Program for Women in Science and Mathematics, ACCESS was established in 1991, with a goal of priming undergraduate women for academic and career success in science disciplines. Today, ACCESS continues to advance the representation of women and gender equity across all dimensions of diversity, with the goal of preparing the next generation of exceptional thinkers and future leaders for success in their science education, and later careers. 

ACCESS was created when Dr. Hugo Rossi, Dean of the University of Utah College of Science (91’) and world-renowned mathematician, was inspired by a group of Utah women in STEM careers, and studies that found that women in science had fewer opportunities than men at the time, especially in Utah. In hopes of addressing this inequity, Dr. Rossi submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the creation of a University of Utah program to support young women interested in studying science and mathematics.

Thanks to the work of Dr. Rossi and numerous collaborators, including Carolyn Connell, Colleen Kennedy, Richard Steiner, Jacquelyn Stonebraker, and Christopher Johnson, the NSF proposal was approved and the ACCESS Program for Women in Science and Mathematics was founded. NSF funding for the program ended in 1993, but through support from the University, our community, and private donors, ACCESS continues to thrive and evolve.

The first ACCESS class (‘91) consisted of 20 science students. Since then, each year the ACCESS award has supported an average of 33 students each year. The ACCESS alumni network continues to grow and is now over 800 strong.

The program was re-envisioned in 2018 in response to changing demographic demands and under new directorship. This included establishing partnerships with the College of Engineering, the College of Mines and Earth Sciences, and the Department of Communications. This One U model broadens recruiting efforts and helps students to inform their academic and professional goals at the earliest possible stage in their undergraduate education. 

In addition, the program now begins with a new (2018) ACCESS exclusive summer course, Science in a Changing World (SCI 3000). The curriculum in this “STEAM” (STEM with integration of arts and humanities) based course affords students with an opportunity to consider and learn about global policy, communication, and STEM. Research faculty and graduate students from the Colleges of Science, Mines & Earth Sciences, and Engineering, as well as an array of campus and community program representatives participate in instruction.    

Changes to the summer curriculum have made it possible to offer the ACCESS award to college transfer students for the first time in its 30-year history. This was a critical change as transfer students represent approximately 30% of the University of Utah undergraduate population (based on 2018 data). 

In 2021, the ACCESS Program rebranded as “ACCESS Scholars” to more accurately reflect the program’s values of excellence, leadership, and diversity. Most ACCESS students give back to the student community, make research and engagement a signature part of their undergraduate experience, and go onto graduate and professional schools after graduation. As “ACCESS Scholars” students will readily identify the program as a distinguishing opportunity that recognizes excellence but also encourages and rewards future mentorship. 

As time passes, the ACCESS program will continue to adapt to best suit the needs of the scientific, engineering, and University of Utah communities.

ACCESS works for students today, and the workforce of tomorrow, with a vision of greater inclusion, community and accessibility across STEM fields.

ACCESS Scholars Application

Applying for ACCESS Scholars

The College of Science ACCESS Scholars is a first-year community, research and scholarship program committed to advancing gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Who is eligible?

  • First-year and transfer students majoring in the College of Science
  • Students who are interested in advancing gender equity and diversity in STEM

How ACCESS students are selected:

A team of STEM faculty and administrators evaluates each applicant using a holistic review process that considers application essays, extracurricular experiences, high school course load and rigor, a letter of recommendation, and GPA.

Your ACCESS Application Must Include:

Questions about ACCESS or the application process?

Email ACCESS Program Manager, Sam Shaw at