Team Members

Rui Yi, Ph.D. Professor

I obtained my B.Sc. at Peking University and my Ph.D. at Duke University. At Duke, I studied RNA nuclear export for cellular and viral mRNAs as well as miRNA precursors in Bryan Cullen's lab. During my postdoc training with Elaine Fuchs at the Rockefeller University, I began to investigate miRNAs and their functions in mammlaian skin. At the University of Colorado, I am leading a group of passionate scientists to decode the fundamental mechanisms in gene expression regulation in mammals.

Dongmei Wang, Ph.D. Adjunt Assistant Professor

I received my Ph.D. in Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, major in Stem Cell Biology. Before joining the Yi lab in 2009, I worked on bioactive lipids and ovarian cancer in Dr. Yan Xu's lab in Indiana University.
I am interested in using engineered mouse models to study the functions of microRNAs and other important genes in skin development, especially how the cross-talk among different cell types within the epidermis affects each other's development.

Alfonso Garrido-Lecca, Ph.D. 2014-

Anna and John J. Sie Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow/NIH T32 Postdoctoral Fellow

I grew up in Lima, Peru and moved to the US when I was 19 years old. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Biology at Texas A&M University. I worked as a technician in the Huang lab at the Texas Children Hospital studying a gene when mutated causes Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. I did my PhD work in the Blumenthal lab at the University of Colorado studying gene expression and mRNA processing using C. elegans. My current research focuses in ncRNAs and regulation of gene expression in Down Syndrome.

Glen Bjerke, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Associate, 2015-

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow

I obtained my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Genetics, where I studied the function of TGF-β signaling in prostate cancer. My current research interest involves elucidating the functions of miRNAs in cancer. To accomplish this we are using new methods to globally identify genes targeted by miRNAs in models of prostate and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Jingjing Wang, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Associate, 2016-

I received my Ph.D. from the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. During my Ph.D. training, I studied the functions of miRNAs in Auxin signaling pathway and plant-virus interaction. At the Yi lab, I am investigating the functions of miRNAs and their targets involved in hair follicle morphogenesis and growth.

Chi Zhang, Graduate Student, 2017-

I received my Master's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Sichuan University, where I focused on unravelling the functions of miRNAs in neural stem cells and during brain development. Now I am interested in studying self-renewal, quiescence and functional exhaustion of tissue stem cells and investigating transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of these important biological processeses.

Kevin Choi, Graduate Student, 2019-

NIH Signaling and Cellular Regulation T32 Predoctoral Fellow

Before joining the Yi Lab, I received my Master’s in molecular and cell biology from Quinnipiac University. At Quinnipiac, I studied how miRNAs that regulate the insulin signaling pathway affect paralysis and aggregation in C. elegans models of neurodegenerative diseases. Currently, I am trying to understand how cancer cells with the same genetic background show different rates of metastasis and how metastatic cells establish a niche allowing for tumor growth.

Arpan Das, Graduate Student, 2019-

I received my Bachelor's (2017) and Master's (2018) degree in Biology from Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, where I studied translation readthrough: translation beyond the stop codon in Humans. I was also involved in a study to investigate the role of single-pulse low-pressure shockwave in angiogenesis and would healing in mice. In Yi lab, my research will be focused on interactions between lncRNAs and miRNAs and how these types of interaction can affect the response to DNA damage. I will also investigate how the lncRNAs are regulated in physiological conditions and why disruption of such regulations cause disease conditions including cancer.

Lily Nguyen, MD/PHD student, 2019-

I like to say that I hail from the beautiful and western part of Michigan because I spent my formative years here. However, most of my childhood was spent along the Missouri River in Nebraska! I graduated from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) with a BS in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology. After I graduated, I studied the molecular underpinnings of fatty liver disease in the Ehrlich lab at Yale University and bariatric surgery in the Cohen lab at Rockefeller University. In the Yi lab, I am looking at how metabolic processes affect hair follicle growth and differentiation. Outside of the lab, I enjoy reading, running, and gardening.

Kestrel Green, Professional Research Assistant, 2019-

I graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.A. in Biochemistry and MCDB. I taught classes in Genetics and Chemistry as an undergraduate and performed research under Jenny Knight pertaining to the identification of effective teaching strategies in higher education biology courses. I joined the Yi lab intently focused on advancing my technical and analytical skills in a research laboratory while contributing to the success of the lab’s mission. I manage the daily operations of the lab to maximize the efficiency new discoveries can be made. As a professional research assistant, I am interested in using mouse models to live image tumors and extrapolate mechanisms that contribute to cancer stem cells’ ability to become metastatic. I plan on attending medical school in the future in pursuit of becoming a surgeon.

Haimin Li, Ph.D. Research Specialist, 2017-

Helen Bassett, Undergraduate student, 2019-


Previous Members:

Postdoctoral associates:

Dejiang Feng, Ph.D. (2008-2010)

Jerome Lee, Ph.D. (2012-2016, American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow), Current position: Research Scientist at Archer Genomics.

Xiying Fan, Ph.D. (2011-2018) Current position: Instructor at Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Graduate Students:

Zhaojie Zhang, Ph.D., (2009-2013), Previous position: Bioinformatics Research Scientist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; Current position: an Investigator of Computational Biology at H3 Biomedicine, Boston, MA.

Kent Riemondy, Ph.D., (2009-2015, Postdoctoral associate 2015-2016), Current position: Computional postdoctoral associate with Jay Hesselberth at UC Denver.

Li Wang, Ph.D., (2010-2015), Insight Health Data Science fellow. Current position: Computational biologist at 10x Genomics.

Christopher Bennett, Ph.D. (2012-2016), Current position: Postdoctoral fellow with Daehwan Kim at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Tx.

Jaimee E. Hoefert, Ph.D. (2012-2017), Current position: Grants consultant at Hanover Research.

Undergraduate Students:

Sarah Jackson, Honors Student, Summa Cum Laude (2009-2011).

Emily Shangraw, Honors Student, Summa Cum Laude (2009-2011).

Sarah Ha, Honors Student, Summa Cum Laude (2010-2013), Current position: MD student at University of Colorado School of Medicine

Meaghan Flagg, Honors Student, Summa Cum Laude (2010-2013), Current position: Graduate student at Harvard Medical School

Lara Janiszewski, Honors Student, Summa Cum Laude (2014-2015), Current position: Graduate student at CU Boulder

Valerie Gao (2014-2015), Current position: MD student at University of Colorado School of Medicine

Ziqi Liu (2014-2016).

Rachel Hall (2015-2016).

Chloe Yan (2015-2016), Current position: OD/MD studyent at State University of New York College of Optometry

Jeremy Burgmaier, Honors Student, Summa Cum Laude (2016-2017).

Matthew Gerhart (2018).

Brian Gittleman (2018).

Andy Zhong, UC-Berkeley student, (summer, 2019).

Bella Shelby, Honors Student, Summa Cum Laude (2019-2020), Current position: MD student at UT Southwestern Medical Center

Sam Baird, (2018-2020).

Technician/lab manager:

Evan O'Loughlin (2008-2011), Current position: Graduate student at Harvard Medical School

Loren Greiner (2009-2013), retired

Emily Beans (2011-2014), Current position: MD student at Indiana University School of Medicine

Andrew Fink (2014), Current position: Master student at Stanford University Environmental Engineering & Science

Lisa Kormendi (2014-2017), Current position: MD student at University of Colorado School of Medicine

Jeremy Burgmaier (2017-2018), Current position: Formula 3 Race Car Driver

Gaelle Blanvillain (2018-2019), Current position: PhD student at Virginia Tech

High School Students:

Larry Zhang (2011-2013), Current position: MIT undergraduate

Aloha Churchill (2018).

Qingqing He (2017-2019).