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Yi received a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Automation from Beihang University (BUAA). After a few years in the industry, he went to graduate school and got a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, focusing on optofluidic systems. During his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Chinese Academy of Sciences, he developed methods combining nano-surface-chemistry, microfluidics and nanostructures to engineer functional neuronal networks on chips. He also developed methods to quantify neural dynamics and circuit motifs in these networks on chips.
Yi joined GENIE team in Janelia to develop genetically-encoded neuronal indicators, and has contributed to the CaMPARI, jRGECO1/jRCaMP1 and GCaMP6 projects. He screened and characterized novel mutants, through wide-field imaging of fly larva neuromuscular junction during electrical stimulation ex vivo; and through two-photon imaging and electrophysiology of adult fly visual and olfactory circuits in vivo. He developed methods for functional whole brain circuit tracing using calcium integrators and optogenetics, and revealed an olfactory circuit for a courtship-promoting odor. He also developed multichannel multiphoton calcium imaging in vivo using spectral variants of calcium indicators, and discovered neural signatures of dynamic visual stimulus selection and the transformations of neural information in a circuit that give rise to these neural signatures. He is carrying on this reciprocally-facilitating duality of imaging technology development and systems neuroscience study.