UC Davis communication faculty Jingwen Zhang standing at podium with APHA written on front. Behind her a large screen shows her name, photo and the words “Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award.”
Jingwen Zhang, a UC Davis assistant professor of communication, receives an award at the American Public Health Association's 2021 meeting in Denver.

Communication Faculty Honored as Young Public Health Innovator

The American Public Health Association recently presented Jingwen Zhang, a UC Davis assistant professor of communication, with its 2021 Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award.

One of the association’s top awards, it recognizes a public health professional, age 40 or younger, who is using an innovative solution to address a complex public health issue.

The APHA honored Zhang for her research on communication and emerging media technologies that promote healthy lifestyles and preventive behaviors across diverse populations.

Her work includes social media-based interventions and the development of mobile app technologies and artificial intelligence chatbots designed to increase physical activity, contraceptive use and cancer prevention in underserved groups.

In nominating Zhang for the prize, Yoshimi Fukuoka, a professor of physiological nursing at UC San Francisco, described her as an internationally recognized leader in the field of health communication and persuasive technologies for health.

Dr. Zhang has made extensive research contributions to advancing persuasive technology and electronic and mobile health, especially for the purpose of improving lifestyle modification programs to reduce the public health burden of noncommunicable diseases.” — Yoshimi Fukuoka, UCSF professor

A smiling silver-haired man stands next to UC Davis faculty holding award made of clear, curving material.
Zhang, right, with the namesake of her young public health innovator award, Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. (Courtesy Jingwen Zhang)

Zhang has published more than 40 scholarly articles in leading journals. Her work has been supported by the National Cancer Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

She was among 10 APHA award recipients this year. Others included a member of Congress and nine scholars from across the nation. The awards were presented Oct. 26 during APHA’s annual meeting in Denver.

The Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award was established in 2019 by El-Mohandes, a pediatrician, epidemiologist and dean of the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy at City University of New York and a former APHA executive board member.

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science

Learn more about Zhang’s research

Vaccine Myths on Social Media Can Be Effectively Reduced With Credible Fact Checking

Using Facts to Promote Cancer Prevention on Social Media Is More Effective Than Personal Stories


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