Joseph Laughlin poses on a Navy ship.
Joseph Laughlin is applying his experience as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy to UC Davis research on vector-borne diseases.

Aggie Hero: Joseph Laughlin

This Global Disease Biology major is driven deeply to help others, even among the most harrowing of circumstances. Joseph Laughlin is a Navy veteran who worked as a hospital corpsman, a military medical specialist. For more than two years of his enlistment, Laughlin was attached to a Marine unit in Afghanistan and helped provide primary care for 80 Marines, sometimes in the midst of combat situations.

Now, Laughlin’s an undergraduate researcher at UC Davis Health who’s performed research with the Rogawski Epilepsy Lab and Attardo Vector-borne Disease Lab. Part of his interest in vector-borne diseases stemmed from treating such illnesses during his Navy tours of the South Pacific, the Middle East, and Central and South America.

This proud veteran is also a hero at home. Over the past two years, Laughlin has juggled rigorous research and academic duties at UC Davis with a busy family life. In between work at two UC Davis labs, Laughlin is a husband and father of a two-year-old daughter.

“It’s been difficult to balance everything, but it’s also rewarding,” Laughlin said. “You have to make a schedule and stick to it. But you also have to make time for yourself in the day, even if it’s 10 to 20 minutes to decompress or go exercise. I’ve learned a lot about myself.”

Following graduation, Laughlin plans to attend medical school with the ultimate goal of becoming a Medical Officer in the Navy.

“I loved what I did in the Navy,” Laughlin said. “I saw all sides of the Navy and got to see what I can handle. Medicine has always been my passion.”