Blind Fish and Architecture

Meet neuroscience major Genyuan Hu ’21

September 29, 2021

Major: neuroscience

Hometown: Chongqing, China

Thesis adviser: Prof. Kara Cerveny [biology]

Thesis: “Change in GFAP Expression as a Consequence of the Disconnection between Zebrafish Retina and Optic Tectum”

What it’s about: The visual system of zebrafish. In particular, the significance of visual input and synaptic innervation from the retina to the optic tectum. While both Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway and radial glial cells are closely related to the development and regeneration of the zebrafish visual system, I looked for potential Wnt ligands that are involved in the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, and I monitored the activities of radial glial cells in the optic tectum through GFAP expression.

What it’s really about: Learning what happens to the brains of zebrafish when they cannot see.

In high school: I spent a lot of time learning biology and English as my second language.

Influential class: In Architectonic Structures with Prof. Gerri Ondrizek [art], I learned to be crafty with different materials.

Influential book: A Carcass by Charles Baudelaire

Concept that blew my mind: The concept of “phylotypic stage” in developmental biology describes an embryonic stage where different vertebrates look very similar to one another. When I looked at a chick embryo in Kara’s developmental biology class, I thought that it was a baby snake!

Cool stuff I got to do: Making sculptures from scratch and working in the art studio.

Ability developed at Reed:
I learned to connect knowledge and concepts from different disciplines.

Challenge I faced: Being a transfer student and having the thesis year as my second and final year here!

Help I got along the way: The opportunities to work with faculty.

What’s next: I’m heading to Princeton to study architecture.