Current lab members

Hongfei Chen
Graduate Student

hongfei.chen at

Hongfei joined the lab in January 2019 after getting his Master degree from Northwest A&F University, China. He works on the genetics of floral integration and pollinator shifts among three closely related monkeyflower species, the bumblebee-pollinated Mimulus lewisii, the hummingbird-pollinated M. cardinalis, and the self-pollinated M. parishii.

Vandana Gurung
Graduate Student

(co-advised with Dr. Pam Diggle) vandana.gurung at

Vandana obtained her Master degree in Botany from University of Delhi in 2015 and came to the UConn EEB graduate program in August 2016. She had worked closely with us in the first two years here and officially joined the Yuan lab in 2018. She works on the genetic and developmental basis of corolla tube variation. In her spare time, Vandana enjoys music, cooking and reading fiction.

Steven Jarsen
Graduate Student
steven.jarsen at

Steven joined the lab in September 2021 after finishing his undergraduate education at UConn. He is interested in the molecular mechanisms of ecologically interesting phenotypes. Outside of the lab, Steven likes cooking and playing video games.

Amy LaFountain
Postdoctoral Fellow
amy.lafountain at
Amy first joined the lab in August 2016 as a Ph.D student. She initiated the project on the genetics, development, and evolution of a novel phenotype in Mimulus verbenaceus, and defended her dissertation in August 2021. She stays in the lab as a postdoc to continue working on the phenotypic novelty project as well as several other projects. Before joining us, Amy worked as a research technician in the UConn Chemistry department and was an expert on chemical analysis of  carotenoids. In her spare time, Amy enjoys running, hiking, and watching sitcoms.

Mei Liang
Postdoctoral Fellow

meiliang678 at 


Mei came to us in November 2019 after finishing her Ph.D on the evolution of self-compatibility in Citrus at Huazhong Agricultural University, China. Here her main project is on the development and evolution of self-organizing pigmentation patterns in Mimulus, but she also works on a few side projects on the molecular basis of flower color variation among Mimulus species. When she is not in the lab, she is probably in the greenhouse (this is not a joke).

Qiaoshan Lin
Graduate Student

(co-advised with Dr. Jill Wegrzyn)

qiaoshan.lin at

Qiaoshan joined us in August 2016 after finishing her undergraduate education at the Southern University of Science and Technology, China. She has been instrumental in annotating the chromosome-level genomes of the Mimulus species we study, and in optimizing the computational pipeline for bulk segregant analysis to identify causal genes of Mimulus EMS mutants, although her dissertation is actually on the role of small RNAs in floral organ identity determination. Outside of the lab, Qiaoshan is a fine artist, particularly fond of digital painting.

Chang Liu
Part-time technician

cliu706 at

Chang did her undergraduate studies at Sichuan University, China, and obtained her Master degree in Plant Systematics from Idaho State University. She worked as a research technician at University of Georgia and has been working in the lab as a volunteer or part-time technician since 2013. Outside of the lab, Chang enjoys baking, hiking, and spending time with her kids.
Ya Min
Postdoctoral Fellow
ya.min at
Minya joined the lab in October 2021 after finishing her Ph.D on the developmental mechanism of floral meristem termination in Aquilegia with Dr. Elena Kramer at Harvard University. Now she is taking advantage of the rich genetic resources and functional tools in the Mimulus system to explore the genetic and developmental control of meristem size and organ primordium initiation. In her spare time, Minya enjoys traveling, playing piano, and going to rock concerts.
Sarita Muñoz-Gómez
Graduate Student
sarita.munoz-gomez at 
Sarita joined the lab in September 2021 after finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Antioquia, Colombia. She did her undergraduate thesis on the regulation of flower color in the Aristolochiaceae family with Dr. Natalia Pabon-Mora. At UConn She is busy with engineering novel flower pigmentation patterns in Mimulus using a synthetic biology approach. Outside of the lab, Sarita enjoys growing and photographing plants, drawing, painting, and designing stuff.
Nathan Schaumburger
Undergraduate Student
nathan.schaumburger at
Nathan is an undergraduate double majoring in Biology and Mathematics. He is interested in the mechanism of pattern formation, and has been doing computer simulations to understand anthocyanin spot or stripe formation driven by the reaction-diffusion system, and carrying out genetic mapping experiment to identify genes that cause pattern variation between Mimulus species.
Yuan_photoYaowu Yuan
Associate Professor
Biology / Pharmacy 305A
Phone: 860-486-4059
yaowu.yuan at
Yaowu obtained his B.S. in Biology (2004) from Sichuan University, China, and Ph.D in Plant Systematics (2008) from University of Washington (Seattle). He then received postdoc training at University of Georgia (2009-2010) on plant genomics and transposable elements, and then at University of Washington (2011-2013) on the genetics of plant adaptation and speciation. He has been fascinated by the diversity of flower color and form since undergraduate days. He moved to UConn and set up the lab in 2013 to study exactly that. Outside of the lab, Yaowu enjoys reading the history of science, watching sitcoms, and hiking and fishing with his kids.

Lab Alumni


Baoqing Ding (10/2014-02/2021), currently Professor at Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China.

Graduate Students

Amy LaFountain (08/2016-08/2021), Ph.D student, currently stays in the lab as postdoc.

Hayley McMahon (08/2018-08/2020), Master student, currently Research Associate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Lauren Stanley (08/2014-05/2020), Ph.D student, currently NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Michigan State University.


Janelle Sagawa (08/2013-08/2014),  founding member of the lab

Visiting Students/Scholars

Zheng Xiao (03/2019-04/2020), Visiting Professor, Institute of Horticulture, Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China

Chen Feng (09/2017-09/2018), Visiting Graduate Student, South China Botanical Garden, CAS

Jingjian Li (07/2017-07/2018), Visiting Graduate Student, South China Agricultural University, China

Arielle Cooley (02/2017-03/2017), Visiting Professor, Whitman College, WA

Xuemei Sun  (01/2017-06/2017), Visiting Graduate Student, Qinghai University, China

Wenjie Chen (11/2015-11/2016), Visiting Professor, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, CAS

Fengjuan Mou (08/2015-08/2016), Visiting Professor, Southwest Forestry University, China

Undergraduate Researchers

Lisa Olsen (02/2018-05/2020): Genetic Counseling Graduate Program at University of Arizona

Caitlin Foster (01/2018-05/2020): Medical School at University of Connecticut

Maussi Arrunategui (09/2017-05/2019)

Griffin Struyk (08/2014-05/2017): Medical School at University of Minnesota

Connor Hill (05/2015-06/2016): Ph.D program at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Henry Guo (06/2014-05/2016)

Sean Reilly (01/2014-05/2016): Physician of Internal Medicine in Philadelphia, PA

Alex Dykas (01/2014-12/2014): Software Engineer in Boston, MA

Matthew Strobel (08/2013-05/2015): Ph.D. program in Genetics at University of New Hampshire

Dominika Bajguz (08/2013-05/2015): Genetic Counselor at Novant Health

High School Students

Alicia Mazzura (summer of 2019)

Alexandra Kwiecien (summer of 2018)

Kiara Monahan (summers of 2016, 2017, 2018): Undergraduate student at UC Berkeley