Hongdian studied physics as an undergrad at Nanjing University, China. During that time, he was fascinated by neuroscience, particularly the functions of sleep and dreams, although none of his later work is related to these topics. He pursued his Ph.D. in characterizing and understanding population neuronal dynamics under the framework of statistical physics, phase transition and E/I balance, supervised by a physicist Rajarshi Roy at University of Maryland and a neuroscientist Dietmar Plenz at National Institute of Mental Health. In 2012, Hongdian moved to Johns Hopkins and did his postdoc work with Dan O'Connor to investigate cellular and circuit mechanisms of tactile perception. In 2016, he established his own lab at UC Riverside, with the aim to elucidate the roles of neuromodulation in shaping perception and decision making. Outside of the lab, Hongdian enjoys photography, movies and video games.