New PhD student Nils Anders Labba
We welcome Nils Anders Labba.
Below he presents himself and his background.
Nils Anders Labba. Photo: Svein Arne Selvik, UiB.
My journey into the world of science began on a particularly sunny spring afternoon in the northern Swedish town of Jokkmokk, during which time I was honing my skills in crafting duodji - the traditional handicrafts of the Sami. While daydreaming my way through the time-consuming task of polishing a birch bowl to a sheen, I happened to begin pondering the inner workings of the wristwatch I was wearing. The scope of my ignorance descended upon me like the hangover at the bottom of a €10 whiskey-bottle as I realized that my lack of understanding when it came to the watch was merely the tip of the ice-berg - that I didn't know the first thing about the only existence I was ever going to experience. My existential crisis led me to the local library, where I found a copy of Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". The following week, after having read through the book twice, I returned it to the library, and walked home with three more volumes in the same vein.
Some years later, following an accident that ended my artisan pursuits, I applied for the BSc program in molecular biology at the University of Bergen, where my electoral courses included toxicology, medicinal chemistry and neurochemistry, the latter of which in particular struck a chord with me, resulting in a MSc in neurochemistry at Stockholm University. I undertook my thesis work in the laboratory of professor Clive Bramham under the supervision of the ardent Hongyu Zhang at the Department of Biomedicine in the University of Bergen, where I was tasked with aiding the effort to elucidate the function of the Arc protein, which is thought to operate as a master regulator of synaptic plasticity. I was involved in attempting to render some of the purported functionality of Arc subject to optical control by adapting the kinase-like auto-occlusion domain optogenetic control system based on the pectinidae-derived photoswitchable fluorescent protein Dronpa to one of the interaction sites by which Arc is thought to elicit its effects. I also played a part in trying to determine whether the phosphorylation-state of serine 206 of Arc is involved in modulating its binding to AMPA receptors via the AMPAR accessory protein Stargazin, or the anchoring of Stargazin to PSD95 – a constituent of the post-synaptic density – both functions of which are believed to be important mechanisms by which Arc modulates synaptic plasticity through changes in AMPA receptor dynamics.
Outside of academia, the run of the mill largely revolves around reading, socializing, and applying my scientific expertise to the dubious practice of brewing copious amounts of beer, cider, and wine, which I – in the spirit of the early experimentalists – test the effects of on my friends and family.
I'm very excited about joining the PharmaTox initiative under the supervision of professor Ragnhild Paulsen, and hope that my modest skill-set will be an asset for both the group and the initiative as a whole.