Science stars of China | Nature "Yan did graduate and postdoctoral research at Princeton University, New Jersey, then set up her own laboratory at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2007 when she was 30 years old, becoming one of the youngest-ever female professors in China. She focused on determining the structures of proteins embedded in cells’ plasma membranes, which are notoriously difficult to solve. One of her targets was the human glucose transporter GLUT1 — a protein that is essential for supplying energy to cells. Many labs had tried to determine its structure, but the protein had defied their efforts, in part because it readily changes its shape. Yan used a series of tricks to restrict its troublesome movements and finally managed to make crystals and solve its structure in 2014. 'People tried to crystallize GLUT1 for more than 50 years, and all of a sudden, bingo — she hit it,' says biochemist Ronald Kaback at the University of California, Los Angeles."