Yan is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music at St. Olaf College. She received her Ph.D. in Music with a minor in Theater Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota.
Yan's work focuses on inter-cultural music composition and performance. As part of this interest, she has been commissioned to compose for and invited to perform in music festivals throughout the world. She considers both her music composition and dance choreography as paths to building multicultural understanding and tolerance.
Her work as a songwriter and music director is showcased in the album Glory Times, distributed by the China Scientific & Cultural Audio Video Publishing Company. Her score Solis Ortus won the SunRiver International Composition Competition and is published by China People's Cultural Publishing Company.
Yan distinguishes herself by choreographing movement to her original compositions. Her inspirations are rooted in multicultural and personal experiences. Her work has been funded by Humanities Without Walls.
A selection of Yan's varied publications includes the paper "Scene of Sichuan Opera" (co-authored with Mingzhu Song), and the books Cool Math for Hot Music, All About Music, and Basic Music Technology and The Future of Music-Towards a Computational Musical Theory of Everything (co-authored with Guerino Mazzola et. al.) by Springer.