Graduate Student Spotlight: Yufeng Wan

profile photo of yufeng wan

Yufeng Wan is a Ph. D. Candidate in the Garcia Laboratory in the Department of Biology. His research project is on digitization of C. elegans male mating behavior through by visualizing muscle activity and posture changes during the behavior

yufeng with poster

profile photo of yufeng wanWhat is on your bookshelf?

New kinds of science; C. elegans II; Applied Bayesian forecasting and time series analysis; Space chronicles; Idea makers; The dictator’s handbook; Anti gravity; Neurobehavioral plasticity; Modeling in the Neurosciences.

Describe someone outside your field of interest who inspires you and why?

A Japanese comedian Akashiya Sanma. Apart from being extremely funny, he is also very optimistic. His ability to stay positive and energetic is embedded in his philosophy, such as, ”I would never feel depressed because of failure. Those do are the ones that overestimate themselves. If you tried your best and still cannot succeed, you are just not good enough. You should accept and move on. ”

yufeng with microscopeWhat is your favorite word?


What strategies do you use to be successful in your graduate program?

First, you have to love the questions in your project. Then I just need to constantly thinking about the questions, try different things to solve the questions. Constant thinking is very important. Because you may encounter the “answers” outside your lab (I got mine when I was visiting Austin for fun), and you need to be waiting for it to realize it.

yufeng with balloonWhat characteristics do you prize most in a colleague?


Why did you choose to focus on your specialty?

The human brain is arguably the most complex organ. I have always been fascinated about how billions of neurons interconnect to function as a complex conscious entity. I am hoping I can gain insight into how human brain works by studying some brains that are much smaller, such as C. elegans’. With only hundreds of neurons, C. elegans can already show complex behaviors. I want to understand the mechanisms that allow the worm brain to react appropriately to different environments and generate complex behaviors. I believe the same mechanisms underlying the functions of human brains.

yufeng at dockWhat attracted you to your major?

To me, Biology is a study of human themselves. By studying biology, I can understand myself a bit better and better, which I find extremely interesting.

What has been a memorable experience at A&M?

I always find people at Texas A&M are very kind and helpful, especially during the time I injured my left ankle. Many people helped me to care for the injury, and helped move me around when I had difficulty. Texas A&M is a warm place.

two people in front of fountaintwo people outside colosseumWhat is the broader significance of your research?

The broader significance of my research is by using C. elegans as a model, we can understand how behaviors are generated and organized by coordinated muscle activities, as well as the underlying decision making networks that generate those behaviors.