Yeates earned his Bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 1983. He stayed on at UCLA and earned his PhD in 1988 while doing research under the direction of Prof. Douglas Rees. There he helped determine the crystal structure of the bacterial photosynthetic reaction center as part of a team racing to determine the first crystal structures of membrane proteins. He then moved to The Scripps Research Institute to do his postdoctoral research on the structure of poliovirus with Prof. James Hogle. Yeates returned to UCLA in 1990 to join the Faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His interdisciplinary research, combining molecular biology with computing and mathematics, has focused on macromolecular structure and computational genomics. His varied research findings include: an explanation for why proteins crystallize in certain favored arrangements; the development of new equations for detecting disorder in x-ray diffraction data from protein crystals; the discovery of thermophilic microbes rich in intracellular disulfide bonds; development of comparative genomics methods; development of designed protein cages or ‘nanohedra’; the discovery of novel topological features such as links and slipknots that stabilize thermostable proteins; and elucidation of the structure of the carboxysome shell and the shells of other bacterial microcompartments, which serves as primitive metabolic organelles inside many bacterial cells. Yeates is a member of the Molecular Biology Institute, the California Nanosystems Institute, the UCLA-DOE Institute of Genomics and Proteomics, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published approximately 150 research papers.