Undergraduate Research Provides Foundation for Future M.D./Ph.D.

Joseph Allen follows his passion for medicine and research
Joseph Allen in the UMKC student union

Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Joseph Allen, ’20

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Degree program: Biology with an emphasis in biomedical sciences and a minor in Chemistry

Why did you choose your field of study?

I have always dreamed of being a doctor. The idea of being a part of something that has such a profound effect in peoples’ lives, inspired me to start on this challenging yet rewarding path. I chose biology and chemistry in order to obtain the foundation needed for a career in medicine. Shortly after my first semester, I was given an incredible opportunity to work as an undergraduate researcher in the School of Biological Sciences. I soon discovered that I had a passion for both medicine and research, so I decided to pursue both. With the education and training I am receiving at UMKC, I feel prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

How has your college program inspired you?

Every day we hear stories about someone who is doing extraordinary things to help their community, the environment, and people around the world. I wanted to make a difference as well, but I wasn’t sure how to start being that kind of person and doing those kinds of things. I’ve now realized that all it takes is recognizing that something could be better, a commitment to see it changed, and a determined persistence to follow through. College has inspired me to have the confidence to not just dream of a better world but to make it a reality.

"With the education and training I am receiving at UMKC, I feel prepared for the challenges that lie ahead." — Joseph Allen

What extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC?

I am the editor-in-chief of Lucerna, the UMKC undergraduate research journal. I lead the honors discussion sections for General Chemistry I and II, am on the Pre-Medical Society leadership board, and this semester I have been working with organizations across campus to start the first collaborative blood drive at UMKC this spring.

Have you had and internship or job shadow? What did you learn?

The past few years I’ve been studying the molecular basis of neurodegenerative disease in Dr. Ryan Mohan’s laboratory. Before coming to UMKC, I never thought I would have the opportunity to be engaged in leading-edge research, yet here I am. Being a part of this lab has taught me so many things. I’ve learned to think about problems in a different way, have confidence in my ability to understand and describe complex concepts, and never allow an experiment that didn’t work to hold me back.

What are your lifelong goals?

After graduating from UMKC, I plan to attend medical school and attain an M.D.-Ph.D. with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon. This path allows me to combine my interest in medicine and research, and hopefully will give me the opportunity to be involved in some incredible things.

Joseph Allen's artwork
In his free time, Joseph enjoys painting and drawing. He even considered pursuing a fine arts degree. Images courtesy of Joseph Allen.
What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy hiking, fishing, cooking, playing piano, or sitting down to a good book and a cup of coffee. Most people don’t know this, but I paint and draw quite a bit. I considered pursuing a degree in fine arts yet decided to keep it as something I could relax and enjoy doing in my free time.

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