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 Melinda  Yang
Melinda Yang
Asst Professor of Biology

In the last decade, the number of both ancient and present-day genomes sequenced has exploded, leading to new discoveries each year on the genetic history of different species. The work in my lab has two major components. The first is the application of computational population genetic tools to the study of the evolutionary history of many organisms, particularly our own species, H. sapiens. My postdoctoral work at the Molecular Paleontology Lab in the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing, China focused on determining the genetic history of ancient humans in East Asia, including their relationship to present-day human populations. The second is the assessment and development of computational tools to determine and infer demographic relationships, especially with the inclusion of ancient DNA. My graduate work in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley included the development of population genetic tools used to study admixture using ancient and present-day genome-wide data, as well assessment of these tools through simulation. The focus of my research is to synthesize these two directions, assessing the robustness of currently used population genetic tools applied to these data and uncovering more on genetic variation and history of different species, with a particular emphasis on humans. For more information, please see:


Wang X, Zhou BW, Yang MA, Yin TT, Chen FL, Ommeh SC, Esmailizadeh A, Turner MT, Poyarkov AD, Savolainen P, Wang GD, Fu Q, Zhang YP. 2019.
“Canine transmissible venereal tumor genome reveals ancient introgression from coyotes to pre-contact dogs in North America.” Cell Research. doi:10.1038/s41422-019-0183-2

Sikora M, Pitulko VV, Sousa VC, Allentoft ME, Vinner L, Rasmussen S, Margaryan A, de Barros Damgaard P, de la Fuente C, Renaud G, Yang MA, …, Nielsen R, Meltzer DJ, Excoffier L, Willerslev E (54 co-authors total). 2019. “The population history of northeastern Siberia since the Pleistocene.” Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1279-z

Wang GD, Zhang M, Wang X, Yang MA, Cao P, Liu F, Lu H, Feng X, Skoglund P, Wang L, Fu Q, Zhang Y. 2019. “Genomic approaches reveal an endemic sub-population of gray wolves in Southern China.” Molecular Biology and Evolution. (under review)

Liu S, Huang S, Chen F, Zhao L, Yuan Y, Starko Francis S, …, Yang MA, …, Wang J, Albrechsten A, Jin X, Nielsen R, Xu X (37 co-authors total). 2018. "Genomic analyses from non-invasive prenatal testing reveal genetic associations, patterns of viral infections, and Chinese population history.” Cell. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.008

Min-Shan Ko A, Zhang Y, Yang MA, Hu, Y, Cao P, Feng X, Zhang L, Wei F, Fu Q. 2018. “Mitochondrial genome of a 22,000-year-old giant panda from southern China reveals a new panda lineage.” Current Biology. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.016

Yang MA, Fu Q. 2018. “Insights into Modern Human Prehistory Using Ancient Genomes.” Trends in Genetics. doi:10.1016/j.tig.2017.11.008

Yang MA, Gao X, Theunert C, Tong H, Aximu Petri A, Nickel B, Slatkin M, Meyer M, Pääbo S, Kelso J, Fu Q. 2017. “40,000-year-old individual from Asia provides insight into early population structure in Eurasia.” Current Biology. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.09.030

Yang MA and Slatkin M. 2016. “Using ancient samples in projection analysis.” G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. doi:10.1534/g3.115.023788

Librado P, Der Sarkissian C, Ermini L, Schubert M, Jonsson H, Albrechtsen A, Fumagalli M, Yang MA, Gambo C, Seguin-Orlando A, et al. 2015. “Tracking the origins of Yakutian horses and the genetic basis for their fast adaptation to subarctic environments.” Proc Nat Acad Sci. 112(50). doi:10.1073/pnas.1513696112

Der Sarkissian C, Ermini L, Schubert M, Yang MA, Librado P, Fumagalli M, Jonsson H, Bar-Gal GK, Albrechtsen A, Vieira FG, et al. 2015. “Evolutionary genomics and conservation of the endangered Przewalski’s horse.” Current Biology. 25(19). doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.032

Yang MA, Harris K, and Slatkin M. 2014. “The projection of a test genome onto a reference population and applications to humans and archaic hominins.” Genetics. 198(4). doi:10.1534/genetics.112.145359

Wall JD, Yang MA, Jay F, Kim SK, Durand EY, Stevison LS, Gignoux C, Woerner A, Hammer MF, and Slatkin M. 2013. “Higher levels of Neanderthal ancestry in East Asians that in Europeans.” Genetics. 194(1). doi:10.1534/genetics.112.148213

Yang MA, Sapfo-Malaspinas A, Durand E, and Slatkin M. 2012. “Ancient structure in Africa unlikely to explain Neanderthal and non-African genetic similarity.” Mol Biol Evol. 29(10). doi:10.1093/molbev/mss117

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
B.A., Swarthmore College
Contact Information
B117 Gottwald Science Center
(804) 662-3126
Areas of Expertise
Population Genetics
Human Evolution
Computational Genetics/Bioinformatics
Ancient DNA-based analyses