Born and raised in Hong Kong, Elsa Yan graduated with First Class Honors from Department of Chemistry, CUHK, in 1995. She then went to Columbia University in the United States for further study. She received her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in 1996 and 2000, respectively. After graduation, Dr. Yan did post-doctoral work at the University of California at Berkeley. Later she became Visiting Scholar and Research Assistant Professor at Rockefeller University. In July this year, Dr Yan was appointed Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Yale University, one of the Ivy League schools. In this capacity, she teaches physical chemistry and biological science subjects. She will also set up an inter-disciplinary laboratory at Yale.
Elsa has been interested in physical chemistry since her undergraduate days at CUHK. Under the guidance and encouragement of two physical chemists in the Department of Chemistry, Professors Chi Wu and Steve C. F. Au-Yeung, she developed an excellent academic foundation and she is very grateful to the two professors and CUHK for the education and training she received. Elsa was very devoted to her study; she carried out chemistry research for four summers in several laboratories in the Department.
During the various phases of her studies, Elsa obtained a number of prizes and awards, including the First Prize in the Chemistry Olympiad, 1993, organized by Hong Kong Chemical Society and Royal Society of Chemistry, U.K. and Sir Edward Youde Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Achievement in 1994. At Columbia University, she received a Graduate Faculty Fellowship, Distinction for Doctor of Philosophy, and the Pegram Award for Excellent Achievement in Graduate Research.
After obtaining her doctoral degree, Elsa started working in a new research area encompassing physical chemistry and biological science. Since 2004, her research has shifted to the general area of life science and medical science. She often interacts with scientists from different disciplines such as clinical science, cell biology, biochemistry and biophysics. At the same time, she has continued her research on the functions of proteins. Her current work is mainly on the investigation of the activation mechanism of G-protein coupled receptors using laser spectroscopy and molecular biology techniques.
Elsa Yan and her parents at the graduation ceremony of Columbia University (2000)
Elsa Yan in front of Sterling Library, Yale University (2007)
Rhodopsin: A photoreceptor and a prototypical model system for G protein-coupled receptors. This system has been the focus of Elsa Yan’s research for many years.