Who we are

Mike Yao, Ph.D.

Mike is Professor of Digital Media and Director of the Institute of Communications Research (ICR) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research delves into the interplay between media, technology, society, and human communication. He examines how people engage with emerging technologies like AI and immersive multimedia across diverse social settings and how these interactions influence social behavior and human communication in digitally mediated spaces.

Leona Su, Ph.D.

Leona is an Assistant Professor in the Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising. She is also a faculty affiliate at the Institute of Communications Research (ICR), the Center for Digital Agriculture (CDA), and the Informatics Programs. Her research examines the interplay between media and society, with a particular focus on how social media and new technologies influence human communication and social behaviors in the context of scientific and health topics.

Mia Wang, Ph.D.

Mia is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, specializing in Advertising, Public Relations, and Media Design. Her research centers on the psychological impacts of immersive media technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). She studies how these technologies influence cognition and emotion in various contexts, including consumer psychology and health promotion. Additionally, she explores the role of AI and human-computer interaction in online shopping environments.

Jeffery Ho, Ph.D.

Jeffrey is an Associate Professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design. His research integrates social science theories into the design of media content and interactive technologies. He is particularly interested in the cross-disciplinary inclusion of arts and design within the social sciences and engineering. His work aims to contribute to both everyday life and specialized professional fields.

Seo-yoon Lee, Ph.D.

Yoon is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media Program, Department of Information Science Technology, Technology Division of Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on revealing the factors that motivate individuals to engage in toxic online communication and the nuanced impacts of emerging media technologies on strategic communication, particularly in addressing health and environmental concerns.

Weizi Liu

Weizi is a Ph.D. candidate in Informatics (iSchool, UIUC). Her research employs mixed methods to study human-computer interaction, focusing on areas such as user trust, technology acceptance, and information disclosure. Currently, she is examining gendered language use in conversations with AI and trust factors in recommender systems. Her interdisciplinary approach combines user experience design with empirical analysis.

Qingxiao Zheng

Qingxiao is a Ph.D. candidate in Information Science (iSchool, UIUC). Her research is aimed at enhancing AI-mediated human communication through the design of social agents. To do this, she merges user experience methods with behavioral data analytics. Recently, she has focused on developing tools that leverage Large Language Models (LLMs) to create trustworthy and empowering user experiences with AI technologies.

Mohit Gupta

Mohit Gupta is a Ph.D. student in Informatics (iSchool, UIUC). His work in computational psychometrics seeks to understand reading behaviors and the psychological effects of textual content. Using qualitative methods, he incorporates these human behaviors into algorithms that analyze text data. His research aims to bridge the gap between psychology and computational analysis.

Maryam Jahadakbar

Maryam is a Ph.D. student in informatics (iSchool, UIUC) with a background in architecture, focusing on creating interactive spaces that incorporate emotions, behavior, thinking, and individual differences by merging the physical and digital worlds using interactive technology. She is uses this technology to improve children’s needs and experiences in health, education, and entertainment.

Mengke Wu

Mengke is a Ph.D. student in Informatics (iSchool, UIUC). Her research focuses on user experience research in human-computer interaction. She studies the dynamic interplay between humans and AI systems, including human perceptions, behaviors, interface designs, and social implications. With a background in UX design, she aims to contribute to the design of digital systems that encourage positive social interactions and promote a better digital ecosystem.

Zixuan (Melodie) Zhao

Zixuan's is a Ph.D. student in Media and Communication (ICR, UIUC). Her research delves into the complex relationship between digital media use and its social and psychological outcomes. She explores the tension between authentic and virtual identities, examining how digital platforms influence biases and social challenges. Her work aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the impact of digital media on individual and societal levels.

Nelson Oshodi

Nelson Oshodi

Nelson, a master’s student in Advertising (College of Media UIUC), is dedicated to revolutionizing Advertising through AI and immersive technologies like AR and VR. His interdisciplinary pursuits reflect a commitment to innovation and the exploration of cutting-edge technologies in the advertising domain and creating safe online spaces for children.

Molly Pfeifer is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Psychology and Media Studies. Her work focuses on how media, especially social media, influences self-esteem and emotional experience.

Yuki Minamii is a Master’s student at the Kyushu University (Japan). He aims to enhance mental well-being through artistic and creative practices. His work concentrates on using creative interventions as a form of preventative mental health care and as a means to combat loneliness.

Lizi Ma is a Master’s student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Advertising. She is interested in interactive digital media, user experiences and marketing, specifically in how Augmented Reality (AR) can influence consumers when shopping online.

Weiyu Ding is a Master’s student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Library and Information Science. Her research interests specialize in social computing and human-computer interaction, specially in social media and technology-assisted interactions (e.g., AR/VR).