I am an Assistant Professor of Computational Communication at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Life Sciences Communication and an affiliate of the UW-Madison Robert & Jean Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. My research employs data science to examine how digital media and technologies affect politicians' accountability to public well-being and how deliberative designs can improve public discourse on controversial and emerging technologies.
Under the first research line, I examine the strategies politicians use to manage and manipulate online citizen requests in democratic and authoritarian countries. I demonstrated how the promise of digital technology to empower citizens’ voices can be compromised by political interests and information burdens. My new projects under this line investigates how politicians respond to testimonies from scientists and manipulate science for political agendas.
Under the second research line, I explore whether ordinary citizens have the capacity to engage in thoughtful discussion on complex policy issues when they are exposed to deliberative communication environments vs organic online platforms such as social media. I demonstrated that a deliberative process can foster people’s thoughtful discussion on well-being issues including food security, sustainable agriculture and environment, and public health. This thoughtful discussion can further increase civic participation in community development. My new projects further explore this line in two ways. One is about designing effective communication strategies (through deliberation and framing) to advance public understanding of highly complex science topics such as gene-editing and AI. The other involves studying how to mitigate the spread of misinformation and increase diversity in science communication across digital platforms such as YouTube and Instagram.
I received Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University, MPA from SIPA, Columbia University, and bachelor in political science and economics (second major) from Fudan University. My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and was published/accepted in peer-reviewed journals across disciplines including American Political Science Review, Politics, Public Understanding of Science, Journal of Science Communication, International Public Management Journal, Frontiers In Sustainable Cities, The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, and Proceedings of the 20th International Academic Mindtrek Conference.