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Note: This Q&A is one of a series of articles exploring the
research that University of Delaware students have been pursuing. Follow
our “Frontiers of Discovery” series as UDaily highlights some of these
Ziyang Jiang is a senior applied mathematics major from the Gulou
District, China. Jiang is studying how different areas of the brain
learn to communicate, to decode how information gets passed from one
region to another.
Q: What draws you to research? Have you done it before?
Jiang: I am a senior undergraduate student in applied math. I
have learned abstract math definitions and theories in class and tested
my knowledge with exams. Now, I would like to see how mathematics can be
applied in research. I had planned to do some research in my sophomore
year but was unable to travel back to the United States due to COVID-19.
Q: What are you studying, where are you studying, and who is your faculty mentor on this work?
Jiang: I am studying how different areas of the brain learn to
communicate using a feedforward neural network model, under the
advisement of Chad Guisti, assistant professor of mathematics.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
UD student Ziyang Jiang
Q: How would you explain your work to a non-scientist or even a fifth grader?
Jiang: My work focuses on understanding how different regions,
or parts, of the brain interact. For example, when you walk into a room
and see your pet, there is a visual stimulus (in one region of the
brain) of your pet that might lead to, for instance, a stimulus in an
emotional center of your brain. So somehow, information was passed from
one region to another. We are using mathematics to understand how that
Q: What are the possible real-world applications for your study?
Jiang: The goal of this project is to better understand
how information propagates or spreads in a randomly wired neural
network. For example, when people suffer a stroke, the original
connection between neurons can be lost and information will be
transmitted differently than before. If we understand how information
was transmitted originally, maybe we can figure out how information is
transmitted after the stroke and find solutions to correct broken
connections that might have occurred.
Q: How does this experience align with your professional goals?
Jiang: I plan to pursue a career in computer science or data
science. Coding and data management/analysis applied throughout my
summer research project helped me enhance my coding skills in Python and
build a foundation for my data science career.
Q: What do you enjoy when you are not doing research?
Jiang: When I’m not doing research, I love playing badminton, bodybuilding and hanging out with friends.
Q: What advice would you give to your fellow students who may be considering or are planning to pursue undergraduate research?
Jiang: Undergraduate research is a good way of enhancing the
knowledge you learn from class and an opportunity to pursue things you
are interested in. I suggest thinking over whether you like to do
research and consider whether it might be useful for your future career.
Article by Karen B. Roberts, photo courtesy of Ziyang Jiang
Published December 15, 2022