Lina Dahlberg , PhD

Associate Professor · She/her/hers


I am an Associate Professor of Biology here at Western Washington University. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin in an academic household (two professor parents) and I attended Madison West High School. After high school, I was a Rotary Exchange student in the Czech Republic, where I learned calculus, Czech culture, and at least one sentences that does not use any vowels. Until I went to college, I was a dedicated ballet dancer, and I dabbled in Ultimate Frisbee and ceramics. I went to Haverford College for my undergraduate education, where I majored in Biology (senior thesis in the Fairman laboratory), while captaining the Ultimate team (senior year) and taking as many medieval history and early English literature courses as I could. During the summers, I came back to Madison and played more Ultimate, took courses in Danish language and culture, and worked in the Raines laboratory on RNAse A variants. Upon graduation, I moved to Aarhus, Denmark as a Fulbright student in the Nissen laboratory. In Aarhus, I worked on X-ray crystallographic studies of tRNAs:translation elongation factor complexes, mostly in Danish. I recently returned from a second stay in Denmark, sponsored by the American Scandinavian Foundation and Fulbright Denmark. I worked in the laboratory of Lars Ellgaard, investigating the biological consequences of reduced ER-associated degradation in mammalian and nematode cells. I also earned top marks in my Danish Proficiency (PD3) exam!

I received my PhD in Biochemistry in 2008 from the University of Washington in Seattle (Kimelman laboratory). In my time outside of the lab, I played Ultimate with VIVA, explored the north Cascades, and met my partner. Just before I started as a post-doctoral researcher in Boston, I taught Biology 205 at Western Washington University. I was accepted as a TEACRS (Training in Education and Critical Research Skills) post-doctoral fellow at Tufts University (Juo Laboratory), which gave me training in both research and pedagogy. The TEACRS program also afforded me the opportunity to learn about and work on social justice issues in science.

Currently, I am interested exploring ways to make science classrooms and departments more welcoming through student-centered learning practices, and by bringing more STEM faculty and students into conversations surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. I feel that this is especially important given the privileges that come with being a white, cis-gendered woman in science. As part of this work, I served as the first Community Ambassador for the Biology department and I work with Dr. Regina Barber DeGraaff and Dr. Robin Kodner to run the Inclusion and Social Mindfulness in STEM workshops. My sister works on similar issues at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), and I love introducing students to the great work that is being done at NASEM in the field of science policy.

My laboratory uses the nematode C. elegans as a model to study neuronal pathways for protein quality control. For 2020-21, I am on sabbatical in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I am continuing this research in the Ellgaard Laboratory. I also do research in Biology education, and have two funded projects: in one, I study how independent and collaborative research experiences influence student learning during laboratory coursework; the other is a multi-disciplinary investigation into introductory laboratories, in collaboration with researchers in the Physics and Chemistry departments. In my spare time, I still play some Ultimate in the Bellingham local leagues and I do a lot of Pilates and hiking with my family. I have two kids who love riding their bikes and taking walks in the neighborhood.

Research Interests

Cell Biology


Ubiquitin, Ubiquitin-mediated degradation, ER-associated degradation

Biology Education and Learning during laboratory courses


Educational & Professional Experience


2001  B.S., Biology-Haverford College, Haverford, PA

2008 Ph. D., Biochemistry-University of Washington, Seattle, WA

2009-2013  Post-doctoral Research-Tufts University, Boston, MA

Selected Awards & Honors

2001-2, Fulbright Student, Aarhus, Denmark

2018, Peter J. Elich Award for Excellence in Teaching, WWU

2021, Fulbright Scholar, Copenhagen, Denmark

Recent Publications