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Junior honored with Goldwater science award

April 11, 2013

Kyla Hamling ’14 received a prestigious science scholarship for her exceptional work in biology. Hamling is one of 271 students to earn Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships this spring, from a field of 1,107 applicants nationwide. The Goldwater Scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Widely considered the preeminent award in the United States for undergraduates preparing for careers in the sciences, Goldwater Scholarships have been awarded to nine Lewis & Clark students in the past six years. Also recognized in 2013 are Henry Kreiman ’14 and Leah Weston ’13, who received honorable mentions

Kyla Hamling ’14

Hometown: Benicia, California

Major: Biology 

What drew you to studying the sciences? 

Generally, I was drawn to the sciences because it’s essentially a large puzzle—I love problem solving, thinking creatively, and analytically answering questions. Specifically, I’ve been fascinated by human biology and its intricacies since taking physiology in high school, and it still intrigues me that there is so much we don’t know about the complex processes that underlie even our most mundane actions.

Do you work closely with faculty? What is that experience like?

I work very closely with my faculty research advisor Tamily Weissman-Unni, assistant professor of biology. In her lab, we research how neurons develop to form circuits in the brain, and I’m interested in discovering how certain protein factors affect the development of these neurons. This has been the most valuable experience in my college career and has enriched the education I get in the classroom, making me much more passionate about the process of scientific research. 

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Lewis & Clark education is preparing you for those goals?

I plan to pursue a PhD in neuroscience, and my professional goal is to conduct neuroscience research and eventually head my own lab. Lewis & Clark, beyond offering me engaging and relevant class work, has been integral in preparing me for this goal by emphasizing undergraduate independent research. In our labs, students are more than an extra pair of hands—they are encouraged to bring forth new ideas and new projects.

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