Yong Wang

Yong Wang

Assistant Professor

J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences


Phone: 479-575-4313

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Dr. Yong Wang received a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California Los Angeles in 2011. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Physics of Living Cells (funded by NSF) and Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2011-2014. He then was funded by the Human Frontier Science Program and worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto in 2014-2016. Wang’s lab works at the interface between physics, nanotechnology, and biology. The lab develops and utilizes cutting-edge biophysical tools at the single-molecule and single-cell levels to boost advances in biology and physics.


Our lab works at the interface between physics, nanotechnology, and biology. We build cutting-edge biophysical tools to boost advances in biology and to gain fresh views of the nature; and we observe biology and nature to inspire new physics and novel ways to apply physics.

1. Antibiotic Resistance & Mechanisms of New Antibiotic Agents

Drug therapy plays a crucial role in preventing and treating infections caused by viruses, fungi, and bacteria. However, in the past 15-20 years, a formidable challenge has been brought to the fore in the clinical arena and food security as antibiotic treatments against infections are becoming less and less effective. Increasing outbreaks of multi-drug resistant “superbugs” have been reported in the United States and all over the world. Therefore, there is an urgent need for understanding the antibiotic resistance of bacteria and developing new alternative agents to organic antibiotics to fight against infectious bacteria.

(a) Understand the antibiotic mechanism of silver nanoparticles

Among the alternative antibiotic agents, silver nanoparticles have attracted broad interests and attention due to their capabilities for suppressing the growth of bacteria and killing bacteria. However, the exact mechanisms for the antimicrobial effects of metal nanoparticles remain poorly understood. This project aims to establish the fundamental mechanisms of the antimicrobial behavior of metal nanoparticles as alternatives to commonly prescribed antibiotics. We are developing methodologies using super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, which will allow the studies of individual biomolecules (e.g., proteins, DNA, and lipids) and their dynamics with a spatial resolution of 20 nanometers and a temporal resolution of 10-30 milliseconds to investigate the interactions between individual live bacteria and silver nanoparticles and obtain knowledge of silver nanoparticles’ antibiotic effects.

(b) Plasmid Dynamics in Bacteria & Antibiotic Resistance

As resistance and virulence genes of bacteria are commonly carried on plasmids, which are self-replicating, mobile pieces of extra-chromosomal DNA that help their host cells to encounter and/or adapt to new environmental challenges. Plasmids are responsible for their own propagation in dividing host cells. To understand how the bacteria maintain antibiotic resistance, it is worthwhile to understand how plasmids are segregated, partitioned, propagated and maintained over generations in bacterial cells upon cell division. We are utilizing super-resolution fluorescence microscopy in combination with other single-molecule techniques (such as single-particle tracking – sptPALM – and fluorescence in situ hybridization) to study plasmid dynamics (both spatial organization and dynamic diffusion) in bacteria. We expect to have a quantitative understanding on plasmid dynamics, which will place us in a much stronger position to develop strategies for interfering with the maintenance of plasmids that are virulent and/or resistant to antibiotics.

2. Mechanical Properties of Biological Molecules and Systems

As physicists, we have a keen interest in applying ideas from physics to biological molecules and systems. In this project, we aim to understand the mechanical properties of DNA, proteins, bacteria, and cells, by developing and using novel techniques.

  • PHYS 3113 - Analytical Mechanics
  • PHYS 4073 - Quantum Mechanics
  • PHYS 5773/4773 - Optical Properties of Solids


Ph.D. - University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) - 2011

M.S. - University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) - 2007

B.S. - University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) - 2005



  • Sadoon, A. A., and Wang, Y.* (2018). Anomalous, non-Gaussian, viscoelastic and age-dependent dynamics of histone-like H-NS proteins in live Escherichia coli. Physical Review E, accepted (in press).


  • Haque, M., Imamura, R., Brown, G. A., Krishnamurthi, V. R., Niyonshuti, I. I., Marcelle, T., Mathurin, L. E., Chen, J.#, and Wang, Y.* (2017). An Experiment-Based Model Quantifying Antimicrobial Activity of Silver Nanoparticles on Escherichia coliRSC Advances, 7: 56173-56182. [pdf]
  • Jiang, S., Park, S., Challapalli, S.D., Fei, J. and Wang, Y.* (2017). Robust Nonparametric Quantification of Clustering Density of Molecules in Single-Molecule Localization Microscopy. PLOS ONE, 12(6): e0179975. [pdf]
  • Nino, D., Rafiei, N., Wang, Y., Zilman, A. and Milstein. J.N.* (2017). Molecular Counting with Localization Microscopy: A Bayesian Estimate Based on Fluorophore Statistics. Biophysical Journal, 112(9): 1777–85. [pdf]
  • Wang, Y.* (2017). Spatial Distribution of High Copy Number Plasmids in Bacteria. Plasmids, 91: 2–8. [pdf]


  • Wang, Y.*, Penkul, P., and Milstein, J. N.* (2016). Quantitative localization microscopy in combination with DNA smFISH reveals new features of the organization of high-copy number plasmids in bacteria, Biophysical Journal, 111:467–79. [pdf]

Before 2016

  • Wang, Y., Cai, E., Rosenkranz, T., Ge, P., Teng, K. W., Lim, S. J., Smith, A. M., Chung, H. J., Sach, F., Green, W. N., Gottlieb, P., and Selvin, P. R. (2014). Small quantum dots conjugated to nanobodies as immunofluorescence probes for nanometric microscopy,Bioconjugate Chemistry, 25(12): 2205–2211. [pdf]
  • Cai, E., Ge, P., Lee, S. H., Jeyifous, O., Wang, Y., Liu, Y., Wilson, K. M., Lim, S. J., Baird, M. A., Stone, J. E., Lee, K. Y., Davidson, M. W., Chung, H. J., Schulten, K., Smith, A. M., Green, W. N., and Selvin, P. R. (2014). Stable small quantum dots for synaptic receptor tracking on live neurons, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 53(46): 12484–12488. [pdf]
  • Wang, Y. * , Cai, E. * , Sheung, J., Lee, S. H., and Selvin, P. R. (2014). Fluorescence Imaging with One-Nanometer Accuracy (FIONA), Journal of Visualized Experiments, 91:e51774. [pdf]
    *: Equal Contribution
  • Wang, Y., Liu, Y., DeBerg, H. A., Nomura, T., Hoffman, M. T., Rohde, P. R., Schulten, K., Martinac, B., and Selvin, P. R. (2014). Single molecule FRET reveals pore size and opening mechanism of a mechano-sensitive ion channel. eLife, 3, e01834. (In the News) [pdf]
  • Wang, Y., Fruhwirth, G., Cai, E., Ng, T., and Selvin, P. R. (2013). 3D super-resolution imaging with blinking quantum dots. Nano Letters, 13(11), 5233–5241. [pdf]
  • Wang, Y., and Zocchi, G. (2011). Viscoelastic Transition and Yield Strain of the Folded Protein. PLoS ONE, 6(12), e28097. (In the News) [pdf]
  • Qu, H., Wang, Y., Tseng, C. Y., and Zocchi, G. (2011). Critical torque for kink formation in double-stranded DNA. Phys. Rev. X, 1, 021008. [pdf]
  • Wang, Y., and Zocchi, G. (2011). The folded protein as a viscoelastic solid, Europhysics Letters, 96, 18003. [pdf]
  • Wang, Y., and Zocchi, G. (2010). Elasticity of globular proteins measured from the AC susceptibility, Phys. Rev. Lett., 105(23), 238104. (Editor’s Suggestion; highlighted by the Physics Spotlighting Exceptional Research and Materials 360) [pdf]
  • Qu, H., Tseng, C. Y., Wang, Y., Levine, A. J., and Zocchi, G. (2010). The elastic energy of sharply bent nicked DNA, Europhysics Letters, 90, 18003. (In the News) [pdf]
  • Wang, Y., and Zocchi, G. (2010). Shape of fair weather clouds, Phys. Rev. Lett., 104(11), 118502. (Invited to APS Press Conference) [pdf]
  • Wang, Y., Wang, A., Qu, H., and Zocchi, G. (2009). Protein-DNA chimeras: synthesis of two-arm chimeras and non-mechanical effects of the DNA spring, J Phys Condens Matter, 21(33):335103. [pdf]
  • Lai, F., Wang, Y., Li, M., Wang, H., Song, Y., Jiang, Y. (2007). Determination of optical constants and inhomogeneity of optical films by two-step film envelope method, Thin Solid Films, 515(11), 4763-4767. [pdf]
  • Fan, H. Y., and Wang, Y. (2006). Study Hankel Transforms and Properties of Bessel Function via Entangled State Representation Transformation in Quantum Mechanics,Commun. Theor. Phys., 45, 819–824. [pdf]
  • Fan, H. Y., and Wang, Y. (2006). Generating Generalized Bessel Equations by Virtue of Bose Operator Algebra and Entangled State Representations, Commun. Theor. Phys., 45, 71–74. [pdf]


  • 2014–2016, Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2013–2014, Center for the Physics of Living Cells (CPLC) Postdoctoral Fellowship (funded by NSF Physics Frontiers Centers)
  • 2010, University Conference Travel Grant Award, UCLA
  • 2005–2011, University Fee Fellowship, UCLA
  • 2005–2011, University Fellowship, UCLA
  • 2005–2008, University Nonresident Tuition Fellowship, UCLA
  • 2006, 2007, Physics & Astronomy Department Summer Research Award, UCLA
  • 2002, 2004, Outstanding Student Scholarship, USTC
  • 2003, Guanghua Education Scholarship, USTC