Lina Dahlberg, Ph.D

Assistant Professor of Biology, Western Washington University

Judith Kimble / University of Wisconsin-Madison


TEACRS Fellow, Tufts University, Boston, MA. 2009-2013
Ph.D, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. 2008
Fulbright Scholar, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark. 2001-2002
B.S., Haverford College, Haverford, PA. 2001


Phone: 360-650-4671
Office: BI 306
Office Hours: By appointment


In all neurons, regulation of proteins through processing, localization, or degradation is critical to ensuring that cells can send and receive information efficiently and with high fidelity. One way for cells to tag proteins for different regulatory fates is through modification by the addition of the small protein, ubiquitin. The importance of ubiquitin-mediated regulation in the nervous system is illustrated by the fact that mutation of specific ubiquitin ligases and deubiquitinating enzymes is implicated in neural diseases. My research focuses on the role of ubiquitin in ER-associated degradation (ERAD), and how this pathway regulates neurotransmitter receptors in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode worm.

Using C. elegans, research in my laboratory provides insight into the cell biology of ubiquitin-based protein regulation in sensory neurons. Because many ERAD system proteins in C. elegans are similar or homologous to those in mammals, elucidating these pathways in the worm are likely to provide key insights into the functioning of sensory neurons in humans.

I also study how the introduction of authentic research into courses at all levels of the Biology curriculum can benefit students. I am particularly interested to learn whether metacognitive interventions during authentic research experiences provide students with a differing sense of what research is and how they can be involved in it. This work is being done in collaboration with faculty at WWU and at the University of Washington, Seattle, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Utah.


  • Zocher E, Ruth N, and Dahlberg, CL. (2018) Dominant-negative VPS-4 disrupts ODR-10::GFP distribution but has limited effects on chemotaxis. microPublication Biology (C. elegans) [DOI: 10.17912/GNYW-V322]
  • Dahlberg CL and Groat-Carmona, AM. (2018) CRISPR In and Out of the Classroom. The CRISPR Journal [DOI: 10.1089/crispr.2018.0007]
  • Hodul, M., Dahlberg CL, Juo P. (2017) Function of the deubiquitinating enzyme USP46 in the nervous system and its regulation by WD40-repeat proteins. Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience. [pubmed]
  • Dahlberg CL, Juo P. (2014) WD40-repeat proteins, WDR-20 and WDR-48, bind and activate the deubiquitinating enzyme USP-46 to promote the abundance of the glutamate receptor GLR-1 in the ventral nerve cord of C. elegans. J Biol Chem. [pubmed]
  • Kowalski, JR, Dahlberg CL, Juo P. (2011) The deubiquitinating enzyme USP-46 negatively regulates the degradation of glutamate receptors to control their abundance in the ventral nerve cord of Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci. [pubmed]
  • Dahlberg CL, Nguyen EZ, Goodlett D, Kimelman D. (2009) Interactions between Casein kinase Iε (CKIε) and two substrates from disparate signaling pathways reveal mechanisms for substrate-kinase specificity. PLoS One. [pubmed]
  • Sampietro J, Dahlberg CL, Cho US, Hinds TR, Kimelman D, Xu W. (2006) Crystal structure of a beta-catenin/BCL9/Tcf4 complex. Mol Cell [pubmed]
  • Dickson KA, Dahlberg CL, Raines RT. (2003) Compensating effects on the cytotoxicity of ribonuclease A variants. Arch Biochem Biophys. [pubmed]


My teaching philosophy is rooted in the principles of inquiry, discussion, and immersion, all of which are central to scientific understanding and progress. I work to maintain a student-centered classroom that relies on active participation from the entire classroom community.

A major goal for an undergraduate education is for students to learn how to ask and answer pertinent questions in their disciplines, while they reflect on how their field of study may affect the world at large.

I am an advocate for bringing undergraduate students into research settings. Three major types of undergraduate research - laboratory courses, individual research opportunities, and independent research positions - introduce students to the excitement of discovery.

Courses I teach (schedule varies every year)

  • BIOL 205 - Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • BIOL 323 - Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • BIOL 324 - Techniques in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 484/584 - Cellular Biology Laboratory
  • BIOL 486/586 - Molecular Mechanisms of Neural Development

    Other teaching experience

    • Pine Manor College, BIOL 499 - Cellular Neurobiology - Spring 2011
    • WWU, BIOL 205 - Cell and Molecular Biology - Spring 2009, and currently
    • Concordia Language Villages, SkovsĂžen Danish Langauge program. Bemidji, MN, 1994-2000


I am part of a three-person team that developed and facilitates workshops through the WWU Equity Forum. Our workshops are STEM-specific and are designed to engage faculty and staff in challenging conversations and introspection concerning issues of race, diversity, and inclusion on our campus.


Drs. Lina Dahlberg, Robin Kodner, and Regina Barber DeGraaff. May, 2017