Ning Yan

“Be Curious, Stay Curious, Don’t Give Up”

We already know this forestry professor can find novel uses for tree bark. But what does she like to do for fun?


Ning Yan is a Professor and Endowed Value-Added Wood and Composite Chair at the University of Toronto. We asked her everything from what inspired her to become a researcher to what she does for fun in hopes of giving you a better understanding of one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a scientist?
Pursuing the answer to an intriguing question like, Why? What if? How?

What advice would you give young researchers?
Be curious, stay curious, and don’t give up.

What are you reading right now? 
I don’t find much time to read lately, but the next book I hope to read soon is: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, by Yuval Noah Harari.

What do you like to do for fun? 
Spending time with my daughters and do whatever they like to do!

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?
I have worked in a number of places (companies and research institutes) and I think being a professor is the best profession for me. I can’t think of any other profession I like to do other than being a professor right now.

Aside from things for your survival, what item would you most want to have with you on a deserted island?
Not sure, maybe some family photos and books.

Want to learn more about Prof. Yan’s research? Check out our blog on the Bark Biorefinery.