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We Are Knox...

James Lichtenstein


Portland, Oregon

Biology Major, Neuroscience Minor

How would you describe academic life at Knox?

Everybody is very focused, and almost everybody seems to take their work pretty seriously.

Since you came to Knox, how have you changed?
Knox has helped me develop my work ethic in ways I could not have imagined in high school.

Why did you choose Knox?
The professors had research interests that I found interesting, and I had a good gut feeling about the visit.

What surprised you about Knox?
I was surprised by how easy it was for me to begin independent research.

Which Knox classes and professors have been your favorites? Why?
My advisor, Jennifer Templeton and her husband, Jim Mountjoy, are unbelievable professors. Jennifer is a stupendously helpful advisor, and Jim may be the most passionate educator I have ever come across. I am continually gratified and humbled by the amount of personal attention I get at this school. I can see the care that my advisor takes in my education translate directly into my growth as a scientist and a student, and that is more than I even dreamed to get out of college.

What are your interests and hobbies?
I enjoy many aspects of nature. I really enjoy identifying trees, reptiles/amphibians, and especially birds. Recently I have started my lifetime bird list. Already I have 300 birds. It's not much, but I have just begun the list.James Lichtenstein at Green Oaks

Describe any independent study or research you have undertaken. What inspired you to pursue the research? What did you learn?
Last year I did a two term independent study about acquired predator recognition in zebra finches. I did not get cohesive results out of the study, but it was still a good experience. I did research over the summer at Green Oaks funded by the David “Burney” Dunn Award, which was a huge learning experience and turned out to be a lot of fun. I was essentially dropped off in the woods with half of a procedure and minimal field research experience. With a little direction from Jim, I had to figure out how to map the territories of songbirds and compare the tree species compositions of their territories. It was a real adventure. (Photo right: James Lichtenstein conducting research over the summer at the Green Oaks Biological Field Station.)

What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite places at Knox are probably SMC library and the finch lab in the basement of the B Wing. SMC library is the best place I have found for studying in solitude, and the finch lab is great because of all those little finches I’ve come to love. Really the whole biology wing is great. That place is just so cluttered with colors, thoughts, and characters.

What campus jobs have you had while at Knox?
I’ve worked in the Gizmo and the Caf, but these last few terms I have been mostly working for the CTL (Center for Teaching and Learning) as a neurology/biology tutor and for the Biology department as a TA for various classes and taking care of the birds in the bird dungeon (the finch lab).

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned at Knox outside the classroom?
To not be afraid to ask for what I want.

Any advice for high school students on their college search?
If you are looking to go into the sciences, you do not need to go to a large school to get an excellent education. Helpful, knowledgeable professors are priceless in preparing you for graduate school, and they are in high abundance at Knox. If you want to become a scientist, you want to start researching as soon as possible, and Knox will give you the freedom to do just that.

What are your plans for life after Knox?
I plan to go on to get a Ph.D. and ideally research and teach.