I am an assistant professor in applied consumer analytics and strategic communication in the Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics at the University of Georgia. I received my Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.
My scholarship is at the intersection of computational social science, visual communication, and science communication. My research combines computer vision methods, surveys, and experiments to investigate the production and effects of visual messages across different communication contexts. Some examples include visual portrayals of politicians, visuals in social movements, images of climate change, data visualizations, and fitspiration images. My recent research, funded by the National Science Foundation, examines how attributes of misinformation claims in visual formats (e.g., photographs, memes, and visualizations) influence viewers’ credibility perceptions.
I also study science communication, with a focus on public perceptions of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, such as facial recognition and self-driving cars. I am particularly interested in how emerging AI technologies are connected to debates about inequality and social justice and how these factors affect public opinion. In the wake of the pandemic, I have also developed a line of research on the political polarization of science, which demonstrates the importance of ideologies and worldviews in shaping our responses to issues such as Covid-19, vaccination, and AI applications.
My works have been published (or are forthcoming) in leading venues in multiple social science disciplines, including the Journal of Communication, Communication Research, New Media & Society, Political Communication, the International Journal of Press/Politics, Sociological Methods & Research, Public Understanding of Science, Risk Analysis, Personality and Individual Differences, and the Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. I have received multiple top paper awards from the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association.
I received my M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and B.S. degree from Peking University. In my spare time, I enjoy photography, hiking, biking, museums, movies, and open-world video games.
P.S. I am on the lookout for research assistants throughout the year. If you are a motivated student and have an interest in the field of computational social science, please feel free to drop me an email.
- Our paper “Metrics in action: How social media metrics shape news production on Facebook” (coauthored with Subhayan Mukerjee and Tian Yang) is accepted by the Journal of Communication! Check this preprint!
- Two papers/abstracts accepted to APSA23 in L.A.! My collaborators and I will talk about how visual messages mobilize participation in online activism as well as how we can investigate misinformation perceptions using computer vision methods.
- Our forum article “An agenda for studying credibility perceptions of visual misinformation” (coauthored with Yingdan Lu and Cindy Shen) is online at Political Communication. Check this thread.
- Our paper “How visual aesthetics and calorie density predict food image popularity on Instagram: A computer vision analysis” (coauthored with Muna Sharma) is online at Health Communication. For a quick overview, check out this Twitter thread or read the news article about our research on UGA Today.
- Our book chapter “Computational visual analysis in political communication” (coauthored with Yingdan Lu), included in the Research Handbook on Visual Politics, is out now!
- Seven papers/abstracts accepted to ICA23 in Toronto! My collaborators and I will present works on many exciting topics such as social media metrics, visual misinformation, morality in pandemics, and political memes. Also, stay tuned with our panel (co-organized with Subhayan Mukerjee and Tian Yang) titled “Modeling time: Computational approaches for the analysis of longitudinal, temporal, and time-dynamic data.” I will also serve as the discussant for panel “Video-as-data in computational communication: Toward a mixed-method pathway.”
- My paper “The role of ideological components in shaping acceptance of facial recognition technology and reactions to algorithm bias” is online at Public Understanding of Science. Check this Twitter thread.
- Our study “Fitspiration on Instagram: Identifying topic clusters in user comments to posts with objectification features” in Health Communication (coauthored with Volha Murashka and Jiaying Liu) is featured by ABC WBAY.
- My paper “Politics of COVID-19 vaccine mandates: Left/right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and libertarianism” is online at Personality and Individual Differences. This research is featured by PsyPost.
- Our paper “Image Clustering: An Unsupervised Approach to Categorize Visual Data in Social Science Research” (coauthored with Han Zhang) is online at Sociological Methods & Research! Check this tweet summary.
- Our grant “Understanding how visual features of misinformation influence credibility perceptions” (with Cindy Shen) is awarded by the National Science Foundation!
- Our paper on the morality of COVID-19 messages on Facebook (coauthored with Brin Xu) is accepted for presentation at ACCI 2022.
- My article “Give me liberty or give me COVID-19: How social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism, and libertarianism explain Americans’ reactions to COVID-19” is now published in Risk Analysis. You can also read a news release on the article or my tweet summary.
- On Feb 11, I will give a talk about “emerging directions of computer vision applications in social science research” for the Agricultural Data Science program at the University of Georgia.
- Five papers accepted at ICA 2022!
- Our paper “Image Clustering: An Unsupervised Approach to Categorize Visual Data in Social Science Research” (coauthored with Han Zhang) is now forthcoming at Sociological Methods & Research. Check our preprint!
- Excited that I received a top paper award from the National Communication Association.
- My paper “Athec: A Python Library for Computational Aesthetic Analysis of Visual Media in Social Science Research” is now forthcoming in the Special issue “Images as Data” at Computational Communication Research. You can read the preprint or experiment with the codes.