YANG Laboratory

Biophysics of Living Systems


Our Research Focus

We study biological oscillations and self-organization processes in early embryo development. The local interactions in the form of mechanical and biochemical signals allow individual molecules and cells to generate collective spatio-temporal patterns. To pin down the physical mechanisms behind these processes, we make use of both the cell-free extracts system and live embryos to help us connect the understandings across the molecule, cellular, and tissue levels.


Our Interdisciplinary Approaches


We integrate mathematical modeling, time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, biochemical assays, microfluidics, and systems and synthetic biology tools to study the dynamic processes in both in vitro and in vivo systems.


Our Funding Resources

These funding resources have supported the past and current research in the Yang Lab. We are grateful to all the funding agencies for their support!


News Highlight

Apr 2020: Usha received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Derek received a Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant! Franco received an Excellence in Upper-Level Writing Prize in Science! Chun-Yen received a Rackham International Student Fellowship! Congratulations to you all, Chun-Yen, Derek, Franco, Usha!

Apr 2020: Chun-Yen Sung and Franco Tavella joined us as Biophysics graduate students. Welcome Chun-Yen and Franco!

Sep 2019: Derek Walker joined us as a Physics graduate student. Welcome Derek!

Aug 2019: The Yang Lab (Owen, Shiyuan, and Qiong) attended the qBio 2019 Conference at San Francisco. Qiong is on the organizing committee; Owen and Shiyuan presented posters.

July 2019: Our research article “Building Dynamic Cellular Machineries in Droplet-Based Artificial Cells with Single-Droplet Tracking and Analysis” is published in Analytical Chemistry. 

May 2019: Zhengda defended his dissertation! Congratulations, Dr. Li!

Apr 2019: Dr. Gembu Maryu joined us as a postdocotral fellow. Minjun Jin and Usha Kadiyala will join us as Biophysics graduate students. Welcome Gembu, Minjun, Usha!

Mar 2019: Our research article “μdroPi: A Hand-Held Microfluidic Droplet Imager and Analyzer Built on Raspberry Pi” is published in Journal of Chemical Education. 

Jan 2019: Check out “the 2019 Winter Biophysics News” for work by Shiyuan. 

Dec 2018: Our spotlight article “The Rise of Ultrafast Waves” is published in Dev Cell. 

Sep 2018: Our research article “Reconstitution of Cell-cycle Oscillations in Microemulsions of Cell-free Xenopus Egg Extracts” is published in J. Vis. Exp. 

Sep 2018: Owen received a Microfluidics Training Program Fellowship. Congratulations, Owen!

Jul 2018: The Yang Lab (Chun-Yen, Owen, Shiyuan, Zhengda, and Qiong) presented at the BIRS workshop "Mathematical Approaches to Cell-Cell Communication and Collective Behaviours" in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Everyone gave a talk.

Apr 2018: Our research article “A robust and tunable mitotic oscillator in artificial cells” is published in eLife. 

Apr 2018: Minjun received the Seyhan N. Ege-WISE Award. Suzie received the Alumni Outstanding Award. Congratulations, Minjun and Suzie! 

Feb 2018: Zhengda received a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship. Congratulations, Zhengda!

Feb 2018: Zhengda presented at the 2018 Winter q-Bio Conference in Maui-Grand Wailea, HI. 

Feb 2018: Suzie received the 2018 Honors Summer Fellowship. Congratulations, Suzie!

Jan 2018: Owen passed his preliminary examination and has been advanced to PhD candidacy. Congratulations, Owen!

Dec 2017: Shiyuan passed his preliminary examination. Congratulations, Shiyuan!

Dec 2017: Ye defended her dissertation! Congratulations, Dr. Guan!

Dec 2017: Zhengda presented at the 2017 ASCB Meeting  in Philadelphia, PA. 

Nov 2017: Our review article “Quantitative and synthetic biology approaches in understanding biological oscillators” is published in Quantitative Biology. 

Oct 2017: Dr. Meng Sun joined us as a postdoctoral fellow. Welcome, Meng!

Sep 2017: Qiong received a Sloan fellowship.

Jul 2017: Our research article “Incoherent inputs promote network robustness of biological oscillators” is published in Cell Systems. 

May 2017: Ye and Zhenga attended the Cells as Dynamical Systems Workshop in San Francisco CA.

Apr 2017: The Yang Lab (Nigel, Owen, Shiyuan, and Qiong) presented at the 5th Midwest Quantitative Biology Symposium in Notre Dame IN.  Qiong gave a talk; Nigel gave a lightening talk; Owen presented a poster.

Feb 2017: Owen Puls has joined us as a Physics graduate student. Welcome Owen!

Sep 2016: Shiyuan Wang has joined us as a Biophysics graduate student. Welcome Shiyuan!

Aug 2016: Qiong received an NIH MIRA Award.

Jul 2016: The Yang Lab (Ye, Zhengda, and Qiong) presented at the 10th Annual q-bio Conference in Nashville TN.

Dec 2015: Qiong received an NSF CAREER Award.

Aug 2014: The Yang Lab (Zhengda, Joshua, and Qiong) presented at the 3rd Midwest Single Molecule Workshop 2014 in Urbana IL. Qiong gave a talk and Zhengda presented a poster. Congratulations to Zhengda for winning a poster award!

Jan 2014: Our lab is officially launched. We're currently looking for talented graduate students and postdocs. Please stay tuned with us.

Lab fun

Our lab pet 'Larry':

This color-changing wire sculpture zebrafish was designed and made by Nigel Michki with the help of Suzie Kim and Shiyuan Wang.

The Yang Lab songs:
"Jingle Bell" | "Cool Kids"| Download lyrics

The lyrics of the two songs were written by our undergraduate student Mark Antosz in Dec 2016 to celebrate our Christmas party. They were sung and recorded by Mark and his friends.

Please check our lab blog for more...

Join us!


The Yang lab is affiliated with several departments and centers:

  • Biophysics
  • Physics
  • Applied Physics
  • Center for the Study of Complex Systems (CSCS)
  • Center of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (CCMB)

  • We are actively recruiting students and postdocs:

    Please check out our  Opportunities page and a  postdoc position flyer for more info.


    Jul 2019, Zhengda's farewell
    Jul 2019, Zhengda's farewell
    Jul 2019, Lab Puzzle Evening hosted by Usha
    Jul 2019, Group hotpot party hosted by Owen
    Jul 2019, A2 summer festival: Bob Ross painting along
    May 2019, Zhengda's graduation celebration
    May 2019, Zhengda's thesis defense
    May 2019, Group lunch
    May 2019, Hatcher graduate library
    Apr 2018, Ye's Rackham Graduate Exercises
    Oct 2018, sleeping bear sand dunes for two night camping
    Oct 2018, sleeping bear sand dunes for two night camping
    Oct 2018, sleeping bear sand dunes for two night camping
    Jul 2018, Group lunch Ann Arbor downtown
    Jul 2018, Banff, Canada; photo taken by Shiyuan
    Jul 2018, Banff, Canada; photo taken by Shiyuan
    Jul 2018, Banff, Canada
    Apr 2018, UM Undergraduate awards recognition
    Mar 2018, Chemistry atrium
    Dec 2017, Ye's graduation party
    Dec 2017, Ye's graduation party
    Aug 2017, Lab party
    Dec 2016, Students office
    Nov 2016, Rackham