Dr. Yan Wang, a new Research Assistant Scientist in the department of epidemiology at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, has won the Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Honor. Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (NIH/OBSSR), the Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Honors program recognizes peer-reviewed articles with demonstrated behavioral and social scientific excellence in areas within NIH’s mission. Dr. Wang has also been invited to write a guest post for the NIH/OBSSR’s website to disseminate the research findings.
This honor recognizes Dr. Wang’s article, “Stress and alcohol use in rural Chinese residents: A moderated mediation model examining the roles of resilience and negative emotions,” which appeared in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and is co-authored with her mentor, Dr. Xinguang Chen, a professor in the UF department of epidemiology. The research was part of an NIH-funded project (R01 MH086322) to assess social capital and health risk behaviors using a large random sample of Chinese residents in Wuhan, China. As an underserved population, residents in rural China are facing increased stress as a result of dramatic social and economic changes. Dr. Wang’s research found a high prevalence of alcohol dependence among this population, and uncovered the underlying mechanism from stress to alcohol dependence through the mediation of negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression. More importantly, this research identified the potential protective mechanism of how resilience can buffer the impact of stress on negative emotions and in turn reduce alcohol use. This finding suggests the potential success of resilience training as a feasible and effective alcohol intervention strategy.
Dr. Wang has training and expertise in both psychology and epidemiology. With an interdisciplinary perspective, her research focuses on using advanced methodology to investigate the complex etiological processes involved in risk behaviors, especially alcohol/tobacco use and sexual risk behaviors. She has worked on a number of NIH-funded projects, including those on mental health and risk behaviors among urban, rural-to-urban migrants, and rural residents in China, alcohol use among persons living with HIV/AIDS in Florida, and advanced quantum modeling on sexual risk behaviors.