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Chemistry major makes the most of opportunities to get involved

Stephanie Metcalf | Chemistry, Undergraduate | Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology When you’re a student in junior high school, events like your teacher accidentally setting the classroom ceiling on fire tend to stick in your mind.

For Stephanie Metcalf, the mishap helped spark her interest in science and soon will lead to a career in biomedical research.

“I like solving things,” said Metcalf, from Sellersburg, Ind. “I went to a forensic summer camp when I was in high school, and I fell in love with all the instruments and the samples and all the preparation that takes place in the lab. My counselor said I should look into it further.”As a student at Borden Jr./Sr. High School, Metcalf was fortunate to have a teacher, Ross Shauver, whose enthusiasm for chemistry was contagious. That passion led her to IUPUI and the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

And she did. The School of Science at IUPUI has an accredited undergraduate program in forensic science, but it was the chemistry program that she found to be the best fit for her. The opportunities for research matched her career plans, and she’s made the most of every chance she’s had to work in a lab, participate in mentoring programs and even help recruit students to the school she has grown to love.

“What I really like is how close-knit the department is,” she said. “I have two advisors, and I know I can go to either of them at any time for advice or direction. I have gotten to know all the faculty and students. I’m still friends with most of the freshman chemistry majors I met on my first day of school at IUPUI.”

“The atmosphere in the department and the school makes it easy to get involved and invested in everything going on here,” she added.

Metcalf has been a member of the Honors College since her freshman year. She is a leader in Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL), a nationally recognized, student-led mentoring program to help students in core science courses, a participant in the Life Health Sciences Internship Program and member of the Chemistry Club.

For the past year, she has worked in the lab of Dr. Mark Mendonca studying radiation oncology, specifically the effect of therapeutic drugs on pancreatic cells when exposed to radiation.

“Being able to do some real research solidified what I wanted to do in graduate school,” Metcalf said. “I first thought I would work in the pharmacological industry, maybe something corporate, but now I know I want to do some sort of biomedical research and possibly teach after getting my Ph.D.”

Metcalf has been president of the Science Ambassador Leadership Team for two years. She plans recruiting events, conducts student tours, and manages other Science Ambassadors to help attract talented high school students to the School of Science at IUPUI.

“I know I wouldn’t have been able to have the same quality of experiences that I’ve had here at another university,” she said. “I enjoy getting to brag about IUPUI, because this school has had such a positive impact on me that I love sharing that with people.”

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