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Yiyang Gong


Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering

We're interested in understanding brain function using the combination of genetically encoded sensors and optical techniques. Using genetically encoded tools, we can target specific neuron types or specific projection pathways for recording or perturbation. Using optical microscopy, we can access individual neurons with high spatial and temporal accuracy. By employing and developing tools in both categories, we study brain circuitry by recording, perturbing, and controlling brain activity in various preparations.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Assistant Professor in Neurobiology
  • Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
  • Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. Stanford University, 2011

Research Interests

Recording and understanding brain activity by developing novel combinations of optical microscopy and genetically encoded sensors. Using these technologies, we wish to dissect neural circuit function and investigate how neural activity drives complex behaviors.

Courses Taught

  • BME 301L: Bioelectricity (AC or GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 518L: Modern Neuroscience Tools (GE, IM, EL)
  • BME 609: Optics and Photonics Seminar Series
  • BME 791: Graduate Independent Study
  • BME 792: Continuation of Graduate Independent Study
  • ECE 549: Optics and Photonics Seminar Series
  • EGR 491: Projects in Engineering
  • NEUROBIO 393: Research Independent Study
  • NEUROBIO 793: Research in Neurobiology
  • NEUROSCI 301L: Bioelectricity (AC or GE)
  • PHYSICS 549: Optics and Photonics Seminar Series

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Gong, Y; Huang, C; Li, JZ; Grewe, BF; Zhang, Y; Eismann, S; Schnitzer, MJ, High-speed recording of neural spikes in awake mice and flies with a fluorescent voltage sensor., Science (New York, N.Y.), vol 350 no. 6266 (2015), pp. 1361-1366 [10.1126/science.aab0810] [abs].
  • Gong, Y, The evolving capabilities of rhodopsin-based genetically encoded voltage indicators., Current Opinion in Chemical Biology, vol 27 (2015), pp. 84-89 [10.1016/j.cbpa.2015.05.006] [abs].
  • St-Pierre, F; Marshall, JD; Yang, Y; Gong, Y; Schnitzer, MJ; Lin, MZ, High-fidelity optical reporting of neuronal electrical activity with an ultrafast fluorescent voltage sensor., Nature Neuroscience, vol 17 no. 6 (2014), pp. 884-889 [10.1038/nn.3709] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Wagner, MJ; Zhong Li, J; Schnitzer, MJ, Imaging neural spiking in brain tissue using FRET-opsin protein voltage sensors., Nature Communications, vol 5 (2014) [10.1038/ncomms4674] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Li, JZ; Schnitzer, MJ, Enhanced Archaerhodopsin Fluorescent Protein Voltage Indicators., Plos One, vol 8 no. 6 (2013) [10.1371/journal.pone.0066959] [abs].
  • Lam, AJ; St-Pierre, F; Gong, Y; Marshall, JD; Cranfill, PJ; Baird, MA; McKeown, MR; Wiedenmann, J; Davidson, MW; Schnitzer, MJ; Tsien, RY; Lin, MZ, Improving FRET dynamic range with bright green and red fluorescent proteins., Nature Methods, vol 9 no. 10 (2012), pp. 1005-1012 [10.1038/nmeth.2171] [abs].
  • Majumdar, A; Kim, ED; Gong, Y; Bajcsy, M; Vučković, J, Phonon mediated off-resonant quantum dot-cavity coupling under resonant excitation of the quantum dot, Physical Review B, vol 84 no. 8 (2011) [10.1103/PhysRevB.84.085309] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Rundquist, A; Majumdar, A; Vucković, J, Low power resonant optical excitation of an optomechanical cavity., Optics Express, vol 19 no. 2 (2011), pp. 1429-1440 [10.1364/oe.19.001429] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Ishikawa, S; Cheng, SL; Gunji, M; Nishi, Y; Vučković, J, Photoluminescence from silicon dioxide photonic crystal cavities with embedded silicon nanocrystals, Physical Review B, vol 81 no. 23 (2010) [10.1103/PhysRevB.81.235317] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Makarova, M; Yerci, S; Li, R; Stevens, MJ; Baek, B; Nam, SW; Dal Negro, L; Vuckovic, J, Observation of transparency of Erbium-doped silicon nitride in photonic crystal nanobeam cavities., Optics Express, vol 18 no. 13 (2010), pp. 13863-13873 [10.1364/oe.18.013863] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Ellis, B; Shambat, G; Sarmiento, T; Harris, JS; Vuckovic, J, Nanobeam photonic crystal cavity quantum dot laser., Optics Express, vol 18 no. 9 (2010), pp. 8781-8789 [10.1364/oe.18.008781] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Vučković, J, Photonic crystal cavities in silicon dioxide, Applied Physics Letters, vol 96 no. 3 (2010) [10.1063/1.3297877] [abs].
  • Shambat, G; Gong, Y; Lu, J; Yerci, S; Li, R; Dal Negro, L; Vucković, J, Coupled fiber taper extraction of 1.53 microm photoluminescence from erbium doped silicon nitride photonic crystal cavities., Optics Express, vol 18 no. 6 (2010), pp. 5964-5973 [10.1364/oe.18.005964] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Makarova, M; Yerci, S; Li, R; Stevens, MJ; Baek, B; Nam, SW; Hadfield, RH; Dorenbos, SN; Zwiller, V; Vuckovic, J; Dal Negro, L, Linewidth narrowing and Purcell enhancement in photonic crystal cavities on an Er-doped silicon nitride platform., Optics Express, vol 18 no. 3 (2010), pp. 2601-2612 [10.1364/oe.18.002601] [abs].
  • Makarova, M; Gong, Y; Cheng, SL; Nishi, Y; Yerci, S; Li, R; Negro, LD; Vučković, J, Photonic crystal and plasmonic silicon-based light sources, Ieee Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, vol 16 no. 1 (2010), pp. 132-140 [10.1109/JSTQE.2009.2030777] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Yerci, S; Li, R; Dal Negro, L; Vucković, J, Enhanced light emission from erbium doped silicon nitride in plasmonic metal-insulator-metal structures., Optics Express, vol 17 no. 23 (2009), pp. 20642-20650 [10.1364/oe.17.020642] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Lu, J; Cheng, SL; Nishi, Y; Vučković, J, Plasmonic enhancement of emission from Si-nanocrystals, Applied Physics Letters, vol 94 no. 1 (2009) [10.1063/1.3055602] [abs].
  • Gong, Y; Vučković, J, Design of plasmon cavities for solid-state cavity quantum electrodynamics applications, Applied Physics Letters, vol 90 no. 3 (2007) [10.1063/1.2431450] [abs].