Dr. Yan has a simple role on “Bang Goes the Theory.” His job is to “explain complicated stuff in a way that makes it really easy to understand”.
Luckily, Yan is the real deal. As an undergraduate at Oxford, he studied under celebrated scientist Richard Dawkins, and later undertook research for Dawkins on the evolutionary relationships between major forms of life.
One result of their collaboration was a book, “The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life.”
Yan has a PhD in (deep breath) computational and mathematical modeling of self-incompatibility systems in plants. Perhaps one job on the show might be to explain what on earth that means (apparently it’s something to do with theorizing how plants evolved their reproductive methods).
Later, Yan became a lecturer in evolutionary biology at Leeds University, where he ran general courses on evolution and more specific modules on evolution, genetics and ecology.
So yes, Yan is certainly Bang’s resident chin scratcher, but luckily, he’s also brilliant at explaining the fundamentals of scientific thinking in layman’s terms. As well as on the show and the website, he’s being doing this for appreciative audiences across the UK at the Bang roadshows.
“I love trying to understand the world around me,” he says. “We find the world exciting from the moment we are born, and as children we explore it all the time. Now I’ve got the chance to get everyone to do that too. What a brilliant job!”