Former Columbus resident Jessica Caldwell recently completed her senior year at Indiana University — Purdue University Columbus, and earned several distinctions in her undergraduate studies.

Caldwell achieved a 3.9 grade-point average and was a member of the first cohort of students to fulfill all of their requirements for a bachelor’s degree in biology on the IUPUC campus.

She has received several honors in recent weeks. They include:

» Outstanding Student Organization Leader Award

» Columbus Regional Health Outstanding Student in Science Award

» Office of Student Research Grant Award winner

» Undergraduate Service Leadership Award

Her list of service accomplishments also includes:

» Undergraduate teaching assistant and tutor for numerous biology courses

» Founding member and president of IUPUC’s first Biology Club, including events like the Puppy and Kitty Pageants, shoe drive, Litter Box Kitty Rescue, field trip to Wolf Park, Careers in Science seminar series.

The Biology Club was recognized as IUPUC’s Outstanding New Student Organization.

Caldwell, who graduated from Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech High School in Columbus, recently moved to rural Jennings County with her family. The next step in her career will take her far away, though.

Beginning in the fall, Caldwell will attend the master’s program at the Adolphe Merkle Institute, a center at the University of Fribourg in Fribourg, Switzerland, that focuses on research in soft nanomaterials.

“My experiences have provided me with several incredible opportunities ranging from presenting my work at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in San Francisco to my recent acceptance into a Master of Science in the Chemistry and Physics of Soft Materials program at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland,” Caldwell said.

She credits her mentors, Barbara Hass Jacobus, biology program coordinator and lecturer, and J.D. Mendez, assistant professor of chemistry, for her successes as a student at IUPUC. They approached her about working for them after she completed their classes.

“They recognized my drive and desire to learn, and they decided they could help cultivate and guide these qualities,” Caldwell said.

Jacobus said that through her involvement, Caldwell will have a lasting legacy at IUPUC.

“Jessica has been involved in so many things at IUPUC; I have no idea how she manages to fit so much into one day and still remain at the top of her classes,” Jacobus said. “Her undergraduate research has resulted in papers and poster sessions at conferences that will no doubt be an advantage for her in her field of study.”

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5633.