UNDERGRAD INSTITUTION AND MAJOR:
China Agricultural University, B.S. in Biological Science, 2015
University of Minnesota, MS, Biological Sciences, 2017
Outstanding Graduates of China Agricultural University, 07/2015
Third-Place Scholarship at China Agricultural University, 10/2014
Second-Place Scholarship at China Agricultural University, 10/2012 and 2013
Merit Students Award at China Agricultural University, 10/2012
Dahuanong Scholarship at China Agricultural University, 10/2012
UNDERGRADUATE OR POST-BAC RESEARCH:
I studied Drosophila wing developmental plasticity and the effects of tocopherol on Drosophila lifespan and fertility, during which I found that a chemically defined media could induce Drosophila larva carnivorism. In my master’s program, I worked with Dr. Marija Cvetanovic, studying the role of microglia in the early pathogenesis of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). By feeding mice with PLX3397, an inhibitor of CSF1R (PLX), we depleted microglia in the brain and ameliorated the motor deficits of SCA1 mice (Qu et al., J Neuroinflam, 2017;14:107). We also studied the role of NF-kB pathway by using the Cre-LoxP system to delete IKKβ, a key regulator of the NF-kB pathway, under the LysM promoter. We found that inhibition of the NF-kB pathway leads to motor deficits in mice, which might be explained by disrupted synaptic pruning on Purkinje neurons during development.
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN RESEARCH?
I found my love for research from early experiences. I could never forget the excitement when I first saw cells under a microscope. I was so attracted to the beauty of the complex yet organized biological world that I bought a microscope and built a small laboratory at home when I was in high school. The excitement of learning new things drove me to spend hours and hours exploring ideas. My undergraduate research experience made me realize that I wanted to understand the underlying mechanisms of animal behavior. Therefore, I chose the Masters in Biological Sciences program at the University of Minnesota to focus on neuroscience. As I learned more, I found that studying neurodegenerative diseases not only could reveal more functions of the brain, but also could help patients in real life. Even though the research theme I am interested in has shifted, the happiness of learning and exploring and the excitement of discovery has never changed.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MN?
I came to UMN for my Master’s degree, and as I got to know the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, I knew this was the program that could help me to reach my highest potential. First, the four-week course at Itasca not only provides basic neuroscience lab technique training but also offers a great bonding opportunity with classmates and faculty members. Coming back from Itasca, there are four core courses that provide fundamental neuroscience knowledge and will train me to think as a neuroscientist. There are also four lab rotations in the first year that will allow me to find a lab. In addition, there are more than a hundred faculty members with numerous great research projects that cover all kinds of areas in neuroscience. Even though I cannot work with every faculty member, the unique collaborative research environment at the U will help me build networks and provide all the resources I need for my research. These outstanding advantages make the GPN program unique, and I believe this is the program that can train me to become a better scientist.
STUDENT MENTOR AND THE BEST ADVICE THEY GAVE:
Mariah Wu gave me a lot of precious advice, one of which is to choose a PI that I am more comfortable working with over a project in which I am interested.
FAVORITE ITASCA MEMORY:
My favorite memory from Itasca is biking around the Lake Itasca. I never thought I could finish a 17-mile bike ride but I did, so I should stop telling myself things I cannot achieve.