Avoid converting email field to anchor tag

Hi,

I am working in a custom html template for my Rmd reports and I want to add the author's email as an icon (fontawesome) on the header. This is how this part of the template looks like:

$if(author.name)$
  <span>
    $if(author.email)$
      <a href="$author.email$"><i class="fas fa-at"></i></a>
    $endif$
    <h2>$author.name$</h2>
  </span>
$else$
  <h2>$author$</h2>
$endif$

And in the Rmd header:

author: 
  name: "John Doe"
  email: "john@doe.com"

This does not work because pandoc seems to convert $author.email$ to an anchor by default. My pandoc skills are very limited and googling/scanning the documentation did not help.

Is there a way to avoid this automatic conversion (via a tag for example) or to force this pandoc variable to be just a string? Any other tips are welcome.

Thanks!