Deborah Lycan

Deborah E. Lycan

Professor Emeritus

, MSC: 53

Deborah Lycan has a passion for sharing her love of science with others. At Lewis & Clark she developed a research program that involved undergraduates in scientific discovery. She also developed courses with open-ended investigative labs, modeled on her research lab, that allowed students work on real unsolved scientific problems. Since retiring she has focused on improving K12 science opportunities in under-served areas and on adult continuing education. She serves on a committee that organizes a free lecture series each year and has given numerous presentations on controversial scientific issues. Deborah is an avid outdoors person, enjoying hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing. She loves reading, ceramics, the Symphony, and
Shakespeare festivals.

Academic Credentials

PhD l983 University of Colorado, Boulder; BA l975 University of California, San Diego


Deborah developed several new courses for the College: Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, Human Genes and Disease, and the Introductory Biology foundation course in Cell & Molecular Biology. Her courses emphasized problem-solving, data analysis, and student-designed laboratory projects.


Dr. Lycan is a molecular/cell biologist with a focus on ribosome biogenesis and cancer. Her early research was on cancer and the regulation of gene expression in the cell cycle. Her more recent work has focused on the problem of how ribosomes are assembled and exported from the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. Since ribosomes are the protein factories of cells, their biogenesis is the limiting factor on how fast cancer cells can grow and divide. Her research was supported by
grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Professional Experience

Deborah Lycan came to Lewis & Clark College in 1987 as an assistant professor of Biology. She
became an associate professor in 1996 and a full professor in 2006. She co-founded one of the
first interdisciplinary majors at the College, and developed the Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Program, which she served as Director multiple times. She also served as Chair of the Biology
Department and as Director of the College’s first million-dollar external grant for improving interdisciplinary science education (HHMI). She was educated at the University of California at San Diego (BA), University of Colorado, Boulder (PhD), and Harvard Medical School, where she held a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.