Sping Lin, who was born 1918 in Zhongshan, Canton, attended Sun Yat-Sen University where he was introduced to the field of plant physiology by a professor who had studied the subject at Cornell University. Lin received a bachelor of science from Sun Yat-Sen University in 1940. In 1947, he came to the U.S. and chose the University of Minnesota under the influence of Pu Zhelong, a Ph.D. student who came to the University in 1946. Lin received a master of science in 1950 and a doctoral degree in 1952 in entomology with a minor in agricultural biochemistry from the University of Minnesota.
While at the University, Lin worked as a research fellow in entomology and economic zoology and as a research fellow in psychiatry and neurology in the Department of Agriculture. After he earned his doctorate, Lin stayed at the University and continued to work as a research fellow in psychiatry and neurology. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1963. In 1969, he was promoted to an associate professorship with Neurology Research Funds.
From 1966-1968, Lin was elected to the scientific research society Sigma Xi and received grants from the National Institutes of Health for his research work. He also received research grants from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and was elected to the American Society for Neuro-chemistry.
In 2000, Sping Lin and his wife Ying-Ngoh established the Sping and Ying-Ngoh T. Lin Graduate Fellowship at the University to help ensure a supply of outstanding entomologists. The fellowship was dedicated to the late Professors A.G. Richards and A.C. Hodson and has sponsored six students since 2005.