Kayla was born on a small farm in Hood River, Oregon, but spent most of her childhood traveling around the continental United States in an R.V. After settling in Phoenix, Kayla completed an International Baccalaureate program in high school and worked as a teaching assistant in an art studio. Tired of the heat and dust, Kayla moved back to her birth-state where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Science in micro/molecular biology as well as a double-minor in chemistry and art practices from Portland State University’s Honors College. During her undergraduate and post-bacc career, Kayla conducted behavioral neuroscience research in the lab of Dr. Ozburn at Oregon Health and Science University where she studied the neuro-molecular and circadian mechanisms underlying addiction.
Now in New York, Kayla is in the neuroscience PhD program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she is focusing on the genomic and epigenetic interactions that confer susceptibility to the development of complex psychiatric disorders. Kayla hopes to approach these domains through computational genetics and CRISPR-editing techniques in stem cells, the application of which has exciting translational potential towards precision medicine in the clinic.
With a passion for education, advocacy, and mentorship, Kayla applies her experience as both an amateur artist and scientist to her outreach and approach to teaching. In her Honors thesis she explored the link between cognitive neuroscience and arts integrative teaching K-12. At Cambridge Coaching, she enjoys teaching students of all ages biology and psychology, and uses her research as a foundation to her approach.
Outside of all the science, Kayla enjoys painting, creative writing, and discovering new music. Kayla is also an avid hiker, whether it’s the hills of the Sonoran desert or the forests of the pacific northwest and now northeast, nothing takes her breath away like nature.