Liv Nicks-Turnley

Lewis & Clark gave me the knowledge and skills to create change, as well as the hope required to do so.

Liv Nicks-Turnley BA '23



Degree and Class Year

BA ’23


Longmont, Colorado






Teaching Excellence Program, SAAB Tutoring

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

Warm, Inspiring, Connected

What’s your favorite class? Why?

One of my most favorite courses was Professor Rishona Zimring’s Special Topics class on Virginia Woolf. The opportunity to spend a whole semester studying the work of a singular writer, and to do so under such a knowledgeable professor, shifted my mindset on what it means to read and write. Woolf has since become one of the most influential authors I’ve read, and one of my personal favorites. I wouldn’t have been able to discover the beauty of her work in the same way without a semester dedicated to it.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

Initially, I was drawn to L&C’s proximity to the outdoors; our forested campus is as unique as it is beautiful. Being able to be in the natural world while studying it was a huge priority of mine, as was being at a school that cares deeply about the environment and sustainability. Portland in general is a very outdoorsy place, and I wanted to move to a city where my passion for conservation could thrive. The small class sizes and diverse curriculum, when combined with the warmth of the faculty and staff, made L&C the perfect place.

What do you like or find most interesting about your major?

Biology is the study of life, and the biology department offers a wide array of classes to explore just that. I was able to focus on courses more central to my interests of zoology and conservation, whereas friends in the same major were able to pursue passions ranging from health studies to forest ecology to microbiology. I’m amazed by the breadth of science within our department, and the opportunities for students to find what aspect of biology interests them the most. It’s evident that our faculty cares deeply about each one of us, and that we have their unending support through that discovery.

What do you like or find most interesting about your minor?

English has always been a love of mine, and completing my minor allowed me to stay close to that passion while still completing a STEM major. Having the opportunity to continue reading and writing alongside lab time and field research allowed me to grow and get the most out of my time at L&C. Part of being at a liberal arts college is the diversity in subject matter, but what I loved most about studying both English and biology was exploring the area where the two intersect; the power of the written word and the diversity of life on our planet inspire me like no other. Reading and writing about nature as it’s portrayed in literature, and how we remember the natural world of those before us, piqued my interest. It’s an unlikely match, but one that inspired me throughout my time in both departments, and one that will continue to do so after I graduate. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue both.

Tell us about your support systems and social outlets on campus: people, activities, clubs, res halls, etc.

As a senior, it’s hard for me to walk through the library or past the reflecting pond without stopping to say hi to a friend. It was easier than I ever thought to start seeing friendly faces around campus my first year, and those connections have only grown since. Many of these friends I’ve met in organized settings, like my New Student Orientation group or neighbors from my first residence hall. Many I’ve met serendipitously, in that seemingly random Lewis & Clark fashion, with whom I’ve made connections just as strong. (I think about a dear friend of mine who I met by accidentally spilling my iced chai on her shoes during an NSO event.) The benefit of having a smaller campus is that community starts forming right away, sometimes by change, and continues to grow throughout your time on Palatine Hill.

I feel remarkably supported by my professors. Showing up to office hours to talk through a paper idea, ask questions about a lab write up, or just catch up over a cup of tea was more welcoming that I could’ve ever imagined. Some of the best conversations I’ve had on campus have been with faculty, and I could not have asked for a more supportive staff.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

My advice, beyond all else, is to give yourself the grace to start from the beginning. This is a new place, with new people, and an incredible amount of pressure to make these years the best ones yet. If I could say one thing to a new student, it would be to let yourself experience these new things with as fresh of a mindset as possible. You’re allowed (and encouraged!) to not know things, but come ready to learn. Be kind to yourself and those around you during these first few weeks, and remember to pack a raincoat!

How do you describe the liberal arts?

Studying at a liberal arts school allowed me to develop a sense of interconnectedness. As a STEM major, I was expecting to operate mainly within STEM departments when I started applying to colleges. Lewis & Clark allowed me to branch out and spend time in other areas, and those intersections between areas of study are what allow us to connect different ideas and create positive change.

Which residence halls have you lived in? How would you describe the hall’s personality? What is/was the best thing about living on campus?

Copeland Hall was where I met some of the best friends I’ve ever had. My floormates from my first year still have movie nights and camping trips four years later, despite not living next door anymore. It was lively and colorful, the windows and doors open as often as possible. It was easy to feel at home.

The best thing about living on campus is the proximity to the support systems you develop. When I think of my years in the dorms, I mostly remember the little joys of living with friends. There’s nothing like being able to walk down a hallway to work on homework with a study buddy, or knocking on a shared wall to say goodnight without leaving your bed. The small floors allow for tight-knit communities of students living together, and it’s a wonderful feeling to create those connections.

Who is your mentor on campus? Why?

I’m lucky to have many mentors on campus, but one that comes to mind is Associate Professor Molly Robinson. I first met Molly while taking her French 301 class, then began working with her as a Teaching Excellence Program (TEP) fellow the following semester. One thing we can sometimes forget about on a college campus, amidst all of the learning and studying, is the underworkings and science behind it. As TEP director, Molly’s knowledge of pedagogy and her passion for teaching have shown me what a gift the opportunity to learn is, especially at an institution like L&C. I’m inspired by her work to make teaching more inclusive and accessible for students of all backgrounds, and the warmth she creates in her classroom.

What’s one of the best spots on campus?

One of my favorite spots on campus is the biology greenhouse on top of the chemistry building. It’s a little hidden, and such a lovely place to do plant lab work, especially when it’s raining. I find myself spending extra time under the glass whenever I can.

What’s one of your best Lewis & Clark memories so far?

Some of my favorite Lewis & Clark memories are from snow storms on campus. I remember packing when the pandemic hit, and somehow, between folding boxes and defrosting mini fridges, we were all still outside catching snowflakes on our tongues. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my peers, it’s how to stay gentle and kind when things don’t go as planned. We managed to make ice storms and snow drifts into some of the best parts of our experience, and I’ll hold those snowy days close for years to come.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

During the summer before my final year at Lewis & Clark, I spent two weeks working as a volunteer research assistant with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme. I lived and worked on a boat with a dozen or so international volunteers, surveying the reef of a marine protected area for sharks and free diving for data collection. Having the opportunity to help with this work was life changing.

My acceptance into Lewis & Clark was the reason I was able to go on this research trip. Without the scholarships and support, spending time studying overseas, or studying at L&C at all, would’ve likely been out of the question. To be able to have had this educational experience, to have had such exceptional support, is a gift and privilege beyond measure.

Lewis & Clark gave me a lot of hope. You can probably imagine that studying our planet and the creatures who occupy it isn’t the happiest of subjects right now. Learning about our changing world, uncovering the small details that contribute to the dazzling, blue-green Earth we all call home, cannot be achieved without the accompanying knowledge that unless we do something, it all will disappear. At 18, I was worried that I was already too late to make a difference. Now, close to the end, I know that isn’t true. Lewis & Clark gave me the knowledge and skills to create change, as well as the hope required to do so. The strength and kindness of my peers inspires me to keep fighting; I leave here confident that we can make a difference. Two weeks studying sharks on the other side of the globe is just one example of how far this education can move us.

Biology English