Yan Yun with family
International scholar Yan Yun and his wife Jane hold their daughter Callie at Davis Community Park in Sept. 2018.

Meet a UC Davis International Scholar: Yan Yun

Get to know more of our global UC Davis campus community through the Meet a UC Davis International Scholar series, profiling some of the best and brightest from around the globe who work, research, and teach at UC Davis.

Yan Yun

Title and department:
Postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Home city/region and country:
Datong, China

Ph.D. in human physiology from University of Newcastle Australia

What are you currently working on?   
My research focuses on reproductive biology in females, specifically oogenesis and the influence of maternal aging, genetics, and environmental exposures on this essential process. I have published two papers in peer-reviewed journals and one book chapter since working at UC Davis. Additionally, I have three ongoing research projects.

Yan Yun in the lab
Yun in the Hunter lab at UC Davis in Aug. 2020. "[This] shows my research activity at UC Davis. The equipment on the left is a confocal microscope that can take high-resolution imaging of small cells. On the screen, it is a living mouse egg at 100 micrometers in diameter. Chromosome materials are labeled as red."

How long have you been at UC Davis? 
Five years as of Sept. 1.

How did you learn about UC Davis?
I heard about UC Davis several times over the years, but most significantly, I knew that it had a worldwide reputation of high-quality research.

What has been the most rewarding or surprising aspect of your current work? 
Our unpublished data show unexpected discovery that the deterioration normally associated with very old eggs can already be detected during puberty on a mouse model. These observations challenge the canonical model of the maternal-age effect in mammals, including humans. We are currently exploring the hypothesis that female hormones and/or ovulation are responsible for the abrupt onset of oocyte deterioration during puberty.

How do you plan to take the insights you have gained here and impact your local community at home? 
What impressed me the most during my UC Davis experience is the diverse community. In Davis, I have opportunities to meet people from all corners of the world and learn about different cultures and ideas. These diversities will be something I want to impact my local community at home.

Have you received any awards or recognitions for your work?
I was awarded a grant from the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center in 2017. The project aimed to determine the effects of environmental exposure to Atrazine on female reproduction. Atrazine is a ubiquitous herbicide and contaminant of surface, ground, and domestic water supplies. We have completed the data collection and are now working on the publication process.

Have you ever been published?
Yes. Several of my works at UC Davis have been published. As a co-author, I published work in Molecular Cell in 2018, and the paper was highlighted in two independent press news: “Cellular Memory” of DNA Damage in Oocyte Quality Control, and Memory - New Research Reveals Cells Have It, Too. I have also published work as the first author in 2019.

What are your hobbies?
One of my hobbies is watching basketball games. While working at UC Davis, I have had the chance to watch National Basketball Association (NBA) games both in-person and on-screen.

Yan Yun and daughter at the zoo
Yun and daughter Callie at the Sacramento Zoo in Sept. 2019. "It was a weekend and the first time we took her to a zoo to see all kinds of animals. She was so excited, but also scared in many cases."

What is your favorite thing to do in Davis or Northern California? What would you recommend others do while they are here?
During weekdays, one of my favorite things after work is watching NBA basketball games with my friends. During weekends, we prefer to drive around, have a picnic or travel further to places of interest, such as San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Monterey, Folsom Lake, Lake Berryessa, and many others. These would be my recommendation for others, especially those NBA fans.

What experience in life helped you achieve your accomplishments? 
The person who encouraged me to have these overseas experiences is my wife Jane. We met each other at a college in China in 2007. At the time, I was not confident yet about coming overseas and pursuing my academic career. With her encouragement, we went to Australia together in 2010 for a Ph.D. degree, and then came to the U.S. in 2015 to continue our research at UC Davis. 

What activities does your family participate in or like to do in Davis?
My wife, Jane, is also here at UC Davis, working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Pharmacology. We had our first baby girl, Callie, in 2018 and she is now two years old. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we went to Mary L. Stephens Davis Library a lot for many organized kid activities.

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