Meet a biomedical science student: Joshua Lingo

Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Tonganoxie, Kansas

Graduate Program:
Biomedical Science (Cancer Biology)

Undergraduate degree:
Kansas State University

Joshua Lingo sits cross-legged in a floral shirt.

Why did you choose the UI Biomedical Science Graduate Program? What has the experience been like for you?

I chose to study Cancer Biology at the University of Iowa for a few reasons. First, Iowa has one of about 50 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers. Next, Cancer Biology offered me a freedom in curriculum that other programs did not offer. Iowa houses amazing research across many fields and fosters collaboration, which was incredibly important to me. I have had a wonderful time being trained by a variety of clinical and research experts and am grateful to those who have put time and effort into my graduate education.

What advice would you give to someone pursuing a PhD?

Find an institution, a principal investigator, and a program that cares for you and your education, as well as a good support system.

What research are you performing?

I am studying how drug combinations can alter the interface between cancers and host immunity. I hope to identify mechanisms that drive the remodeling of immune populations within the tumor and sensitize non-responsive tumors to immunotherapies.

What do you hope to do after you earn your degree?

I hope to become a post-doctoral researcher and eventually a tenure-track faculty member. I have a passion for mentorship and teaching that is driving me toward being the principal investigator of my own lab. My long-term goal is to discover new molecular phenomena that could offer therapeutic benefit to those with cancer while training the next generation of brilliant scientists.

What is something that surprised you about this program?

I was surprised by how collaborative and translational science is here. I came from a university very similar to the University of Iowa; however, it was not affiliated with a medical institution. As a result, the research I performed, while extremely exciting, was foreign to most faculty and students outside of my lab. At the University of Iowa, I can dive into detail about projects and ideas with students and faculty outside of my core lab to receive thoughtful insight and future directions.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student at the University of Iowa?

My favorite part about being a graduate student at the University of Iowa is the complexity and interdisciplinary training that comes with such a collaborative environment. Even as a Cancer Biology PhD candidate, I also work in neuroscience and pharmacology. Through this, I learn about cutting-edge research in neurological disease, hypertension, and addiction that I would not have experienced in a less inclusive environment.

How do you manage your personal well-being as a PhD student?

I have a strong circle of friends within and outside of my program that keep me sane. Together, we provide support when the inevitable stresses of graduate life creep up. Additionally, I am lucky to come home every day to a loving partner and an energetic dog. Between friends and home, I have the resources I need to prevent burnout and stay mentally healthy. Physically speaking, I work out frequently at the Fieldhouse gym since it is so close to my lab.

What are some of your personal interests?

Outside of the lab, I love to work out and go on runs with my dog. I'll happily read anything non-scientific or watch movies and play video games. I go downtown with friends to destress and rid myself of the worries of the lab. I love to cook and bake. I always enjoy a good coffee shop environment to chat with friends or a group haul at the thrift stores on the weekend.

What would you say to a prospective student who is considering the University of Iowa for PhD training in the biomedical sciences?

I would say I am 100% positive you can find a fit for your research interests at the University of Iowa. Especially in cancer, there are so many aspects of cancer that are being actively studied that it would be nearly impossible not to find a lab you absolutely love at the end of your rotations. Iowa offers a diverse array of research with caring principal investigators and supportive lab environments.