Jing Yan is currently an Assistant Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and a member of the Quantitative Biology Institute (Qbio) at Yale. Originally from Shanghai, China, he obtained his B.S. degree from the College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering at Peking University in China, with extensive undergraduate research experience in organic synthesis. In 2009, he switched to the field of soft matter physics and pursued Ph.D. degree in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Working with Steve Granick, he developed novel reconfigurable, active colloidal materials during his Ph.D.
In 2014, he stumbled into microbiology at Princeton as a joint postdoctoral researcher in the department of Molecular Biology and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Working with Bonnie Bassler, Howard Stone, and Ned Wingreen, he studied bacterial biofilms with an interdisciplinary approach. With new imaging techniques, he discovered the spontaneous cellular ordering inside V. cholerae biofilms that leads to the formation of tenacious biofilm clusters. His study on the biofilm material properties leads to innovative methods to remove harmful biofilms. He received the Career Award at the Scientific Interface from Burroughs Wellcome Fund in 2016.
Biofilms are ubiquitous surface-attached bacterial communities embedded in an extracellular matrix. We combine state-of-art imaging techniques, mutagenesis, mechanical measurements, and computer simulations to understand how bacteria build such multicellular communities cell by cell, what unique materials they use to do so, and what characteristics emerge at the level of the collective. Ultimately, we will use our understanding of bacterial biofilms to solve biofilm-related problems in medicine and in industry and to enhance the use of beneficial biofilms.