Team Members

Rui Yi, Ph.D. Principal Investigator

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.

Gaëlle Blanvillain, Lab Manager, 2018-

I obtained a MS in Environmental Management in France (2001), and a MS in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston (2005).  I have over 15 years of experience in Ecology, and have worked as research assistant for the College of Charleston, and for the CNRS in France.  Most of my work involved physiological, ecotoxicological and behavioral studies on wild species of snakes, frogs, lizards and turtles.  Over the years, and across different projects I have been involved with, I have developed strong managerial and organizational skills.  In the Yi lab, I am the lab manager, and I make sure the lab runs smoothly on a daily basis. 

In case you wonder, it was a grass snake (Natrix natrix) collected in the Pyrenees mountains for a dispersion study!

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

Sam Baird, Undergraduate student, 2018-

Bella Shelby, Undergraduate student, 2019-

Qingqing He, High school student, 2017-



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: Postdoctoral fellow with Jay Rajagopal at MGH/Harvard Medical School.

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)

Ziqi Liu (2014-2016)

Rachel Hall (2015-2016)

Chloe Yan (2015-2016)

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

Matthew Gerhart (2018).

Brian Gittleman (2018).

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: MD student at Ohio State University

High School Students:

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

Aloha Churchill (2018).