Dr. Yifang Zhu, professor of environmental health sciences and associate dean for academic programs at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has been appointed acting dean by UCLA executive vice chancellor and provost, Scott L. Waugh, effective September 1.
Dr. Zhu, an alum of the Fielding School, brings a wealth of local and global leadership experience to the role of acting dean. She was appointed to the California Air Resource Board’s Research Screening Committee in January 2014 and is collaborating with Chinese researchers to address critical air pollution faced by Chinese cities and to advocate for measures to improve air quality in China. Dr. Zhu was recently selected by Los Angeles supervisor Ms. Hilda Solis to serve as her expert advisor on air quality issues in Los Angeles County, and also serves as an editor for Aerosol and Air Quality Research, a guest editor for Aerosol Science and Technology, and as a member of the editorial board for Atmospheric Environment.
Dr. Zhu’s scholarship and creativity have been recognized by a series of national and international awards, including the Walter A. Rosenblith New Investigator Award from the Health Effects Institute in 2007, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation in 2009, the Haagen-Smit Prize from Atmosphere Environment in 2011, and the prestigious “Eminent Young Overseas Chinese” award from the State Council of the People’s Republic of China in 2015. Dr. Zhu has been recognized for both her exceptional teaching and mentorship of public health students.
Waugh previously announced that the dean of the Fielding School, Dr. Jody Heymann, would step down at the end of August. “Dean Heymann has worked tirelessly to increase student scholarships, to support innovative community-based training and educational programs, and to expand the Fielding School’s national and global impact with a focus on addressing health disparities and improving population health at scale,” Waugh shared in a message to the university community. “Financial support to public health students grew 32 percent during her deanship. Additionally, Dean Heymann helped to raise $70 million in the FSPH fundraising campaign with the overwhelming majority of funds going to ensuring world class research is translated into public health impact and to student scholarships.”
Dr. Heymann developed and disseminated new publicly accessible data tools and led the creation of a novel public use data portal to provide ready public access to the data generated by faculty at the Fielding School. She also substantially expanded the School’s scholarship on health equity by launching a new center focused on addressing health disparities caused by racism and related forms of discrimination, raising funds for a junior faculty chair dedicated to increasing health equity, and successfully recruiting a group of new faculty in this area.
Throughout her tenure as dean, Dr. Heymann remained active in her service to national and global institutions. She served as a member of the National Academy of Medicine, met with state policymakers working on family and labor policy, and worked with UNICEF, UNDESA, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and a wide range of national and global civil society organizations on increasing equal opportunity and reducing health and educational disparities. Dr. Heymann returned full-time to policy work, research, and teaching as a Fielding School faculty member on September 1.