Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science

  • What Our Students Say

    Meet PhD Student Dan Cobian

     Cobain, Dan in Lab

    What is your hometown?

    River Falls, WI

    What is your educational background?

    I hold a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Kinesiology and a doctoral degree in Physical Therapy, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    What interested you to pursue a PhD in rehabilitation science?

    To me, there is nothing more intriguing and directly applicable than the study of the human body. The better we understand the way the human body functions, particularly in the context of injury and disease, the better we can help people to live full and healthy lives. I’ve been interested in a career in health care since high school, but only in the last few years did I realize that the best way I fit into the health care puzzle is as a research scientist. Each individual working to improve our understanding and treatment of health care issues can only do so much. The key is that we put in the time and effort to do quality work so we create a layer of knowledge that others that can build on. Over time, we are collectively able to make conclusive statements backed by our rigorous investigations and can move on to answering the next line of questions.

    Is there a teacher or mentor who helped you decide on this career path?

    During my undergraduate studies at UW-Madison, I began working on a research project under the guidance of Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit, a professor in the physical therapy department. Dr. Heiderscheit was an excellent mentor. He gave me a chance to prove myself and I began to really enjoy the process of scientific research. I continued to work with him throughout my DPT education and decided that a career in research was the right fit for me.

    How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education?

    The Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Iowa has an excellent reputation for performing high quality scientific research and producing outstanding PhD graduates. My mentor is Dr. Glenn Williams, a developing leader in the field of musculoskeletal research. He is well known for performing forward-thinking research conducted with rigorous methodology. The chance to be part of a growing lab and have new and exciting research opportunities with a focus in orthopaedics and sports medicine is what drew me to Iowa.

    What are your career objectives?

    As a post-professional student, my focus is to develop my skills as a creditable scientist whose work contributes to improving our understanding of human health and our performance of skilled physical therapy. Ultimately, I hope to establish myself as a tenure track faculty member of a physical therapy program where I can develop an independent line of research that makes an impact on our field while contributing to the education of future physical therapists.

    What are some of your outside interests?

    Like many in the health sciences, I enjoy nearly all sports and athletic activities, with basketball, racquetball, and sand volleyball at the top of the list. I also try to get outdoors as much as I can, hiking and fishing in the spring and fall and waterskiing in the summer. It can be a challenge to keep me sedentary, but games like euchre and Maria hold my attention from time to time.

    What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student?

    Be able to give a clear and logical answer to the question “Why do you want a PhD degree?” Have an idea of what you want your career and life to look like and determine if the PhD degree is the right fit for you. Once you are certain of that choice, find something that you are passionate about and dive in. At this level, you really are entirely responsible for your success or failure, so you need to study something that will keep you self-motivated to continue to read, experiment, and learn throughout your education and career.

    Why would you recommend students to apply to the PhD program in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Iowa?

    The diversity of the faculty and the resources available within the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine are second to none. The department has an outstanding history of success in producing graduate-level faculty candidates. Iowa City has a small town feel and is equal parts great college town and great place to raise a family.