Dr. Yawen Li became interested in social work research while conducting field observation on a group of homeless youth during her early academic years. With a BA degree in English from the University of Yunnan, she became an interpreter while working for Doctors Without Borders and later a project officer for the Salvation Army on sanitation and HIV/AIDS prevention project in rural China. This work furthered her interest in health research and led her to pursue higher education and earn her MSW form the University of Hong Kong in 2002. During her MSW program, she also participated in breast cancer research as a research assistant. Her strong passion to health research led her to complete her PhD from the University of Southern California in 2009. Dr. Li’s research focuses on identifying social determinants of health and health behaviors using a life course perspective. She focuses on topics like healthy diets, physical activities and exercise, social participation, economic disparities, trauma, and social support for Chinese American. Dr. Li has collaborated with senior services agencies including Gaby and Mary West Senior Center to develop a web base GIS program that will San Diegans to search for senior services in the city of San Diego. Currently Dr. Li works with AHMC Healthcare to develop a culturally tailored diabetes self-management program for Chinese Americans living in San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles.
Dr. Li is very proud to be teaching at SDSU because she has the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students. She especially appreciates the opportunity to work with first-generation college students because she admires how much they respect and value their education. Dr. Li also feels very fortunate to be working at SDSU because she feels supported by her peers and faculty and has the opportunity to continue doing what she loves—research. Dr. Li said is happy to be working at SDSU because it provides her with academic freedom to do research in many areas, thus allowing her to work with other schools to develop experience in other disciplines. Dr. Li is proud to be working in a schools that stands out as a top research university. She wants students to take advantage of the cutting edge research they are being taught because it will provide them with the tools necessary to compete in the social work industry and advance their future careers— “If students are interested in research, they need to come talk to me!”
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written by Claudia Gonzalez, MSW student