Student Spotlight: Lola Badmus

PhD candidate loves her research and Stritch's collaborative cultureLola Badmus

By Sam Uhlarik

February 7, 2022

When she is not researching potentially life-saving leukemia therapies, PhD candidate Lola Badmus helps promote science and research to girls as an executive board member of Stritch’s Women in Science group. Learn more about Lola’s Stritch experience:

What is the focus of your research and what prompted you to study it?

The focus of my research is to understand how the oncogenic mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion protein, MLL-AF9, causes MLL leukemia, which is an aggressive form of leukemia with a poor prognosis. Focusing on downstream targets of MLL-AF9 that are important for leukemogenesis could inform novel, therapeutic approaches for this cancer. Using both in vitro and in vivo leukemia models, my goal is to identify targeted, small molecule inhibitors that can synergize to create a novel, combinatorial therapy for MLL-leukemia.

I love research in general because I get to work at the forefront of scientific discovery and I am able to find answers to my own questions. I chose cancer research because it is inspiring to know that my curiosity and passion for research will contribute to the betterment of patients’ lives.

Describe your involvement with the Women in Science group.

I have been a member of the Women in Science group since I joined Loyola and have been on the executive board the past two years. One of our main goals is to promote girls’ interest in science and research, as there is a dearth of women in the STEM workforce. There is even less representation in the field for Black women. I hope that by being visible and pursuing our group’s mission provides the representation that is so important for young people to see.

How has the culture at Stritch helped you?

The culture here is wonderfully collaborative and open. Stritch provides a space where we can share ideas, ask questions, and think critically, all without fear of judgement. During my time here, there have been several instances where I have bounced ideas off different principal investigators or shared materials with different labs. This fosters better training, and ultimately, I will be a better independent scientist because of the culture here.

How have you engaged with the Stritch community?

The great thing about the Stritch Graduate School is that our labs are close and collaborative, so I have been able to build a strong community of trainees quite easily. Additionally, I participate in Women in Science and the Graduate Student Council, which provides several opportunities to socialize with fellow graduate students.

Who has mentored you during your studies and research?

My mentor is Professor Nancy Zeleznik-Le. She is the Cancer Biology Chair and I work in her lab with her guidance. Nancy is a great mentor because she has a wealth of knowledge that she enthusiastically shares with me. She is supportive and challenges me to think critically and to be open-minded with my research. She also allows me the space to explore my own ideas and work independently.

The faculty has always been supportive. They have always treated me with respect and genuine care when I struggled with a concept or needed help with an experiment. The faculty are welcoming and want us to succeed, which makes the environment so much more conducive to true learning.

Why did you choose Stritch?

I chose the graduate program at Stritch because of the people. I could instantly tell that I would be supported and that the faculty genuinely cared about the students succeeding. There is no “sink or swim” mentality here. Instead, we are provided with the tools and mentorship to become great scientists.