Talia Lichtenberg BA ’20 Named 2019 Goldwater Scholar
Pamplin Fellow Talia Lichtenberg BA ’20 is the recipient of a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the preeminent award for undergraduates in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. A native of West Linn, Oregon, Talia is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology with the intent of pursuing a PhD in molecular biology, specializing in Alzheimer’s disease and related neurodegenerative diseases. The win brings the total number to 16 of Goldwater scholarships won by Lewis & Clark students in the past decade.
“Right now, I am feeling incredibly grateful to all of my professors who have encouraged me to continue with research, and especially to my mentor Associate Professor of Biology and Program Director of Neuroscience Tamily Weissman, Visiting Assistant Professor Pamela Zobel-Thropp and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Casey Jones for their letters of recommendation, and Professor of Chemistry Louis Kuo for coordinating the Goldwater application process,” Lichtenberg said. “I am excited to begin my thesis work in Dr. Weissman’s lab on brain development.”
A research assistant in Weissman-Unni’s zebrafish lab, Talia says she finds the mechanisms that underlie brain function fascinating. Through studying biochemistry and molecular biology, she hopes to gain the tools to help better explore these mechanisms. Lichtenberg shared her research in presentations to peer students and Lewis & Clark faculty during the 2018 John S. Rogers Science Research Program Summer Brownbag series.
“In the Weissman Lab, I am a part of a team that is working to understand brain development,” Lichtenberg said in an interview. “In early brain development, neural stem cells generate neurons, and over time this proliferation leads to brain expansion. Interestingly, there is also a small amount of cell death that occurs during this same period that we think is a vital part of ensuring correct brain size. My research is focused on understanding the mechanisms that regulate this cell death.”
Membership in the Pamplin Society of Fellows, the highest honor bestowed by Lewis & Clark on its students, is extended to seven second-year students annually. Four endowed professors, one each from the disciplines of History, Science, Government and Economics, also serve as members of the society. The student fellows determine, plan and implement a number of programs each year, including hosting a Distinguished Visiting Scholar and bestowing a Teacher of the Year Award.
According to the Goldwater Foundation, from an estimated pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors, 1,223 natural science, engineering and mathematics students were nominated by 443 academic institutions to compete for the 2019 Goldwater scholarships. Talia is one of 496 students selected for the 2019-2020 academic year.