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Yang recognized by Society for Risk Analysis with achievement award


Published December 9, 2021

headshot of Janet Yang.
“I see risk science playing a bigger role in the future by guiding policy and public dialogue in our increasingly risky world. ”
Janet Yang, professor
Department of Communication

Janet Yang, professor of communication in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received the 2021 Chauncey Starr Distinguished Young Risk Analyst Award from the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA).

SRA presents the award annually to one of its members age 40 or younger for outstanding achievement in science or public policy relating to risk analysis, while demonstrating exceptional promise for continued contributions to the field.

“This is my 15th year attending SRA, which makes this award extra special,” says Yang. “I’m inspired to continue advancing the field of risk communication by conducting well-executed research about timely risk topics and working diligently with my collaborators.”

Risk science provides guidance for how to characterize risk. Through risk assessment, risk perception and communication, risk management and governance, and problem-solving, risk science contributes to the development of effective tools and methods that can improve communication of risk information to citizens, lawmakers, media and interest groups.

It’s about clarification and explanation of risk and the challenges associated with measuring threat and determining perceptions. Risk science is applicable to nearly every facet of life, from politics to natural phenomena to medical treatments, and is fundamental to academic disciplines across the physical and social sciences and humanities.

“I see risk science playing a bigger role in the future by guiding policy and public dialogue in our increasingly risky world,” Yang says.

Yang’s research focuses on factors that influence how people perceive risk related to science, health and environmental issues. She has examined the impact of risk perception on communication behaviors related to topics such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, recycling, vaccination, Ebola and vaping.

“SRA has really helped me with my research because it allows me to receive feedback on my own work directly from experts and also expand my knowledge on the state-of–the-art literature on risk sciences,” Yang says.

The organization will present the award at its annual meeting Dec. 5-9. 

In addition to the Chauncey Star award, Yang is also the recipient of the 2020 Krieghbaum Under-40 Award of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

“I’m grateful for my family, mentors, colleagues and graduate students who have supported me along the way,” she says.