Jessica Yu is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. She is interested in using novel data science and geospatial approaches, community stakeholder engagement and policymaking to address inequities in public and environmental health related to urbanization and climate change. Working closely with colleagues at Stanford Law School, her current research is focused on the development of generalized public health guidance and best practices for protecting vulnerable populations from the health impacts of wildfire smoke. In collaboration with local and state-level governmental partners and non-profit organizations, her research seeks to develop a quantitative planning process for wildfire risk reduction in California.
Prior to joining Stanford, Jessica worked on global and environmental health projects in Canada, India and South Africa. During her earlier research, she conducted focus groups and interviews with civil society organizations, policymakers and residents living in slum and mining communities in India and South Africa. Through these life experiences, she was privileged to learn first-hand some of the greatest inequities faced by vulnerable populations, including social and environmental determinants of natural and human-induced disasters.
More recently, she completed her doctor of philosophy in population and public health at the University of British Columbia funded by Wellcome Trust under the Pathways to Equitable Healthy Cities project. In her doctoral work, she assessed the built environmental factors related to healthy and resilient cities by quantifying and assessing disparities of health and climate change vulnerabilities across neighborhoods in Metro Vancouver. Her work led to the region’s first neighborhood-level measures of life expectancy, cause-specific mortality rates and climate health vulnerability index scores for extreme heat, inland flooding, sea level rise, wildfire smoke and ground-level ozone. Her hope is to continue to apply and expand her scientific skills to address the emerging threats of wildfire and other climate change-related policy challenges in California and beyond.