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Talia Lichtenberg

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Class Year: 2020
Hometown: West Linn, Oregon
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Close-knit, collaborative, engaging

What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

My favorite class has been organic chemistry with Louis Kuo. Organic chemistry was like learning a new language and I loved how every problem was like a fun jigsaw puzzle.

“I work with a great team of students who all care about making sure that we provide a sense of community.”
What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I have had a lot of relatives come to L&C and all had great experiences and encouraged me to apply. I was also drawn here by the small class sizes and the opportunity to get to know professors.

How did you decide on your major?

I am a research assistant in Professor Tamily Weissman-Unni’s zebrafish lab and found the mechanisms that underly brain function to be fascinating. Through studying biochemistry and molecular biology, I hope to gain the tools to help me better explore these mechanisms.

Describe the research project and your role.

In the Weissman Lab, I am a part of a team that is working to understand brain development. 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. To study this process, I use a method called Brainbow. Brainbow is DNA that allows us to label individual neurons in different colors. After expressing Brainbow in zebrafish, I am able to observe brain development in a live zebrafish on a confocal microscope and use time-lapse to capture these cell death events.

How has your research enhanced your L&C experience so far?

This is my second year as a researcher in the zebrafish lab. I love the hands-on environment, and especially appreciate that we promote a team-oriented approach to research. The aspect that I have most enjoyed is being able to collaborate with Professor Weissman and other students in the lab. Having the opportunity to do research at an undergraduate institution has been very valuable for me and has encouraged me to pursue a career in neuroscience in the future. 

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot on campus is the chapel, especially during one of our orchestra performances.

How do you manage stress?

I manage stress by dancing.

Where do you find community on campus?

As a resident assistant, I work with a great team of students who all care about making sure that we provide a sense of community in the L&C residence halls.

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