Yan Wang receives 2023 Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award

By Anne Riker Garlington
head shot of Yan Wang
Dr. Yan Wang

Yan Wang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, was chosen to receive the 2023 Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award for her groundbreaking work in mobile health.

According to the American Public Health Association website, each year the award is granted to a public health professional, age 40 or younger, who is using an innovative solution to address a complex public health issue and who is making a significant, innovative contribution to the public health field.

“The commitment and accomplishments of these outstanding public health leaders is inspiring,” said Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., executive director of APHA. “Their contributions, and those of countless others, have helped strengthen the field and build a healthier nation as we continue to face serious public health challenges.”

Wang will be presented the award during the APHA Public Health Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on Monday, November 13. The honor consists of an engraved crystal award and a $1,500 honorarium, plus national recognition among her peers.

“Dr. Wang is making a significant contribution to addressing the complex public health issue of substance use and physical/mental health among vulnerable populations through novel research that combines mobile technologies with epidemiology,” said Stephen Kimmel, M.D., MSCE, and chair of the department of epidemiology.

In her research, Wang has focused on cannabis and alcohol use, particularly among vulnerable populations, including older adults and persons living with HIV. She has pioneered the use of biosensors as an objective measure for detecting alcohol use and has been developing mobile health interventions to help overcome barriers to substance use treatment.

Earlier this year, Wang was recognized as a 2023 recipient of the University of Florida’s Excellence Award for Assistant Professors, which is one of UF’s top honors for junior faculty.

Beth Virnig, Ph.D., M.P.H., dean of the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, said of Wang, “She is among the very top assistant professors nationwide and has demonstrated the skills and experience to manage very large and complex projects.”

When asked about being granted the award, Wang said, “I am really honored to receive this prestigious award and to represent our college’s young scholars at the APHA meeting. I would like to especially thank my wonderful collaborators who made my work possible. I believe there is great potential to leverage mobile technology for public health research, which is reflected in almost all my ongoing projects.”