Many students can say they have a vision for their future. For ARCS Seattle Scholar Jacob Baudin, vision is at the heart of his current work at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Jacob’s research focuses on understanding the primate retina, which is the sheet of neural tissue in the back of the eye responsible for converting light from the world around us into a neural response. Specifically, Jacob’s project aims to characterize the cells accomplishing this signal detection process — turning a light stimulus into a neural signal to send on to downstream parts of the retina.
In terms of practical applications, this work allows us to understand how we see. In the future, if we ever want to replace the retina with a prosthetic device, it is essential to understand how it functions. Jacob’s work characterizing how cones function is an important step in accomplishing this. He is providing a framework for building an accurate model of how the retina functions and being able to apply this to potential future prosthetic approaches for restoring vision.
“The financial flexibility afforded by the ARCS award allowed me to have many great experiences outside of lab,” Jacob said. “These experiences contributed to my ability to strike a balance that allowed me to remain motivated and effective in the lab.”