Aihua Zhu recalls growing up in northwestern China in the Gobi Desert and experiencing dust storms that often made it difficult to breath.
It was her first recognition of how the environment can influence people’s health, and as a new Senior Analyst in Informatics at Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, Aihua is eager to help turn community data into information that people can use to live healthier lives.
“I am a data person. I majored in earth science. It’s totally different and unrelated to health, but I did enjoy working in environmental science before and that is related to human health with air pollution study and climate change,” Aihua said. “Working in this area is another way to use data to generate some useful information for the public and for the organization to get the whole system to improve and to work better for the public.”
Aihua who lives with her family in Overland Park, comes from working as a program evaluation data analyst for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services in Topeka. There she worked on creating reports on long-term care trends and other data for leaders at the agency.
“I’m very happy to have Aihua join the Informatics Team. She is a strong analyst, and she will bring many talents to our organization,” said Director of Informatics Sonia Jordan. “I’m excited to see her develop our behavioral health analytical support in the future.”
Aihua earned her doctorate in earth science from the University of California-San Diego, as both she and her husband came to the United States in 2003 for graduate school.
Her husband, Fengpeng Sun, is now an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and her children Eli, 9, and Ivy, 5, attend school in the Blue Valley district.
Aihua said after she started on Jan. 31 that she was excited to learn more about behavioral health data in Douglas County.
“Data is data,” she said. “As long as there’s data, I can handle it.”