Yana is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania from which she received her Bachelor's degree in Biology and Anthropology, reflecting a deeply held interest in understanding the biological basis for how humans have evolved. She went on to carry out her graduate work in developmental and chemical biology as a student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School in the laboratory of Malcolm Whitman. Upon completing her doctorate Yana became a post-doc in the lab of Cliff Tabin in the Genetics Department of Harvard Medical School. Yana's research focused on the genetic basis for the evolution of adaptive human skin traits and the biological mechanisms that control the development and patterning of skin appendages, bridging developmental with evolutionary genetics and genomics. In pursing this interdisciplinary endeavor Yana was fortunate to have Pardis Sabeti an evolutionary geneticist at Harvard and the Broad Institute, Dan Lieberman an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University and Bruce Morgan a developmental biologist specializing in skin appendage formation as co-mentors.
Yana joined the Departments of Genetics and Dermatology at Penn in 2016 where her lab's research focuses on the genetic mechanisms governing the development and evolution of skin and reproductive traits.