Yuko grew up in Niihama on the island of Shikoku, Japan. While taking physics classes in high school, she became intrigued by the idea of explaining various natural phenomena with basic physical principles, and thus decided to major in geophysics for college. When applying for graduate school in 1997, the largest El Nino event in modern history was developing, affecting weather patterns worldwide. This event sparked her interest in climate dynamics. How do the tropical ocean and atmosphere interact to yield such a spectacular event? How do changes in tropical ocean temperatures affect weather in distant regions?
Topics of Yuko's research range widely from the seasonal cycle of the tropical Atlantic to multidecadal variability in Antarctic ice core records, but their background themes have always been rooted in what fascinated her in 1997 - tropical ocean-atmosphere interactions and atmospheric teleconnections. During recent years, Yuko has broadened her horizons by applying her knowledge of modern climate dynamics to understand climate variability and change in the distant past and future.