Yuan Zhang, PhD (as of April 2023)

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Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences


Dr. Zhang did her postdoctoral work at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She received a Ph.D. in Gerontology from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2019, where she was a pre-doctoral trainee on the T32 Multidisciplinary Research Training Grant in Gerontology.

Taking a multidisciplinary approach, Zhang's work seeks to integrate social and biological data to understand the effects of individual- and societal-level factors on aging processes across place and time. She uses data from several population-based cohort studies around the world to examine how social factors at different life stages shape physiological health and impact health in later life. Her current research, for which she was awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes on Aging, investigates the biosocial pathways of cognitive aging in both higher and lower to middle income countries.


Education & Training: 

PhD, University of Southern California  

MS, University of Michigan  

BA, Central University of Finance and Economics  


Honors and Awards: 

University of Southern California, Doctoral Student Award, 2019 

University of Southern California, Heinz Osterburg Prize, 2019 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center, NICHD, Postdoctoral Traineeship, 2019-2021 


Selected Publications: 

Farina MP, Zhang YS, Kim JK, Hayward MD, Crimmins EM. Trends in Dementia Prevalence, Incidence, and Mortality in the United States (2000-2016). Journal of Aging and Health. 2022; 34(1):100-108. doi:10.1177/08982643211029716 

Zhang YS, Strauss JA, Hu P, Zhao Y, Crimmins EM. Links Between Mortality and Socioeconomic Characteristics, Disease Burden, and Biological and Physical Functioning in the Aging Chinese Population. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. 2022; 77(2):365-377. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbab059 

Zhang YS, Hu P, Strauss JA, Zhao Y, Wang Y, Crimmins EM. Ascertaining cause of mortality among middle-aged and older persons using computer-coded and expert review verbal autopsies in the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. Global Health Action. 2020;13(1):1768502. doi:10.1080/16549716.2020.1768502

Sudharsanan N, Zhang Y, Payne CF, Dow W, & Crimmins E. (2020). Education and adult mortality in middle-income countries: Surprising gradients in six nationally-representative longitudinal surveys. SSM - Population Health, 12, 100649. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100649

Crimmins EM & Zhang YS. (2019). Aging populations, mortality, and life expectancy. Annual Review of Sociology, 45(1). https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-073117-041351

Zhang YS, Saito Y & Crimmins EM. (2019). Changing impact of obesity on active life expectancy of older Americans. The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 74(12), 1944–1951. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glz133