Natalie Klee

Natalie Klee BA '21



Degree and Class Year

BA ’21


České Budějovice, Czech Republic




TCK Club

Overseas study

East Africa Biology Program (fall 2019)

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

Passionate, Outdoorsy, Liberal

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

I think my favorite class to this day has been my first semester Exploration and Discovery course called Traversing Boundaries with Professor Kristin Fujie because it introduced me to a new class structure and different way of thinking than I was used to back in my home country. Professor Fujie was great at leading constructive debates, and her feedback really helped me improve as a writer. Not only did this class expand my knowledge in terms of the material we covered, but it served as a buffer to the culture shock I inevitably experienced as an international student. Through having us debate about readings and linked social justice issues, it allowed me to explore and discover (haha) the cultural mindset of the new environment I was adapting to.

Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

I consider my mentor here to be Professor Sharon Torigoe, who is my academic advisor and who I am currently doing research on campus with. I met Sharon through my summer research application, and she has been incredibly supportive of me since day one. I owe a lot of my success at this school to her, because she encourages me to pursue things I perhaps would be dubious about going after on my own, from presenting at poster sessions to joining a fellowship. She ultimately really helps me help myself, and as I’m learning to handle the independence of early adulthood, this is exactly the kind of guidance I appreciate most right now.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark? 

I was looking to enroll in a small liberal arts college on the West Coast, so L&C was a candidate right away. What made it stand out for me was the global and environmental perspective, great biology program, and stunning location.

If you have studied or will study overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience so far? 

I’m going on the East Africa biology program in fall 2019. I chose this program because I love biology, I love travel, I love being challenged in new environments, and I can’t wait to learn more about life on a different continent. There is also all of the camping and snorkeling and safari trips to consider…

How do you feel supported as an international student at Lewis & Clark?

So much! Lewis & Clark goes out of its way to make international students feel at home here. I was really nervous when I landed in PDX for the first time, but the friendly International Students and Scholars (ISS) office staff picked me up from the airport and then showed me the ropes during international student orientation. I immediately felt included in the close-knit community we have here. There are a lot of events and organizations that further promote inclusion, like the International Student Government, Third Culture Kid Club and the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, plus there is the multicultural dorm on campus. Some people say international students are in a bit of a bubble here, but I’d call it more of a solid base from which it is easier to form connections with the rest of the L&C community.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

Is it lame to say the Bon? It’s totally the Bon. If I’m feeling whimsical than maybe one of the gazebos by the reflecting pool.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

You get to use phrases like:

“Hood’s looking good today now that it’s stopped raining.”
“This book I got in Powell’s is so quirky.”
“Let’s grab a sushi burrito from the food trucks.”
“I went on an owl watching date in Tryon.”
“Can’t wait to explore all the breweries here once I turn 21.”

Have you had the opportunity to do research with a professor? If so, please describe the project and the experience.

I am doing research in Professor Sharon Torigoe’s lab, where we study the transcriptional regulation of mouse embryonic stem cells. In my project I work with a regulatory DNA sequence found in these cells by looking at how certain manipulations with the sequence affect how much the gene it regulates is expressed. This involves doing lots of gel electrophoresis, growing cultures of cells and bacteria, running PCR reactions, and using many other methods that let me pipet stuff into tubes. It’s been a wonderful learning experience that has given me new skills as well as helped me connect with the passionate people in our science departments.