Yuan Li

After the college entrance examination in 2016, Yuan started her undergraduate studies at China Agricultural University (CAU), majoring in plant protection. During her time at CAU, she explored the realms of entomology and plant pathology and was inspired to study insects as agricultural and public health pest. In 2018, Yuan pursued her academic journey further by transferring to the Entomology department of Cornell University through a “2+2” program. In 2019, she joined the Buchon Lab and facilitated a series of experiments focusing on the gut microbiota of yellow fever mosquito, adult female Aedes aegypti. In the summer of 2020, Yuan earned a bachelor’s degree in Entomology from Cornell and a bachelor’s degree of Plant Protection from CAU. In the fall of the same year, Yuan joined the Piermarini Lab at Ohio State University and by the end of 2022, she successfully received a Master of Science degree in Entomology.

Yuan is always interested in the physiology and biology of mosquitoes as human and veterinary disease vectors. Her M.S. project in OSU focused on Malpighian tubules as a vital tissue of calcium regulation in adult female Ae. aegypti. She first examined how various dietary calcium loads or blood meals impacted the calcium levels in female mosquitoes using a calcium-selective electrometer. She also analyzed the mRNA abundance of several putative calcium transporters. Inspired by the results of transcripts, she then chose one calcium transporter and carried out Western blotting and immunofluorescent localization to identify the protein expressions of this transporter in mosquito tubules. With the guidance and support from her M.S. advisor Prof. Peter Piermarini, she received research grants of more than $6,000, presented her thesis project in the format of posters and oral presentations in multiple conferences, and won two 1st-place awards in research poster competitions and one 2nd-place award in student-talk competition.

Yuan joined the Dong Lab in August 2023 as a Ph.D. student of Duke Biology department. She is very passionate to learn how different ion channels contribute to the neuro-signal transmission in female mosquitoes and how different toxins can interfere with ion channels, both in vitro and in vivo. She acquired the technique of molecular cloning during her first semester in the Dong Lab and will continue to expand her expertise in mosquito neurophysiology and toxicology in the coming years. Currently, she is engaged in learning mosquito behavioral bioassays and two-electrode voltage clamp assays.

Email: yl946@duke.edu/ yuan.li@duke.edu