Research2018-06-26T07:35:38+00:00

Research

In our complex and challenging socio-political environment, research exploring the technological and social factors that shape our civic behavior gains a new relevance. My work examines the ways in which digital platforms and interpersonal connections transform how we communicate, how we seek and evaluate (mis)information, how we get mobilized for civic action or discouraged from participating in the political process. I study how our social interactions, both in person and online, influence what we know, what we believe to be true, and how we act upon it. To investigate patterns of direct and mediated social influence, I use a network science approach and rely on a mix of digital trace and self-reported data. My past work has examined transformations of the media system, political and civic participation, and the social aspects of new technologies. My agenda as a scholar also includes advancing computational and network methods, as well as promoting ethical research practices, transparency, and replicability in the social sciences. 

While I use a variety of tools for data manipulation and statistical analysis, the bulk of my work is done using the R language for statistical computing + RStudio. You can find my R tips & tutorials on my blog or my GitHub page.
Other statistical software packages I have experience with include SPSS, Stata, LISREL & PRELIS, and AMOS. The network analysis & visualization tools I’ve worked with include igraph, Statnet, RSiena, the PNet family, Gephi, NodeXL, Pajek, UCINET, Network Workbench, LexiURL, WordIJ, and Visone.

My recent papers and publications are available here.

Current projects

Our online and offline connections to people, organizations, and news sources provide the infrastructure over which information and influence spread. Studying those complex social systems presents new theoretical, methodological, and practical challenges, but also creates opportunities to conduct innovative and exciting research. My scholarship investigates the technological and network factors affecting our news consumption, civic, and political activity. My current work includes projects that examine the impact of social structures and technology on civic behavior and spreading misinformation; a theory-building endeavor extending our understanding of communication and influence flows; and a book-length project on network methodology.

Past projects

  • Evolution of the political web: A collaboration of the Lazer Lab with the Internet Archive and Matt Weber at Rutgers University. My work involved analysis of large-scale historical web data, extract hyperlink networks, and track their dynamics over time. Our team is currently working with crawls of the government (.gov) domain, which have been made publicly available.
  • Multiplex networks and political outcomes: In collaboration with researchers at OSU and Cornell University, this project of the Lazer Lab examines longitudinal social networks among college students at 14 universities in the US. We conducted a series of analyses using full-network data for six different relationships (social, academic, and political) at multiple points in time over 6 years.
  • Volunteer Science: Another initiative of the Lazer Lab, Volunteer Science is a digital platform for social science experiments. The site already provides the means for virtual replication of classic experimental designs like reaction time tests, the traveling salesperson problem, prisoner’s dilemma, the Bavelas experiments linking network structure and task performance, and others. Sign up for the platform as a researcher, or join it as a participant and volunteer your time for science.
  • Part of the Metamorphosis group lead by Sandra Ball-Rokeach, studied the impact of new media on civic engagement and intergroup dialogue in diverse communities. As a member of the Alhambra project team, I worked on the development and maintenance of a research-driven local news website: the Alhambra Source. I was also part of the MetaConnects project aimed at translating communication research for community organizers.
  • Member of a multi-university working group collaborating with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to redefine media diversity in a digital age and explore policy implications. Lead research assistant for a study commissioned by the FCC to examine the information needs of communities and the media ecologies that serve them. Read more about the project here.