Alvin Zhou

Alvin Zhou

Ph.D. Candidate

UPenn Annenberg

About Me

Hi, welcome to my homepage. I am Alvin Zhou, a PhD candidate in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where I am advised by Sandra González-Bailón. I am expected to defend my dissertation and graduate in Summer 2022, and will be on the job market since Fall 2021.

My research focuses on political communication and strategic communication, with a heavy dosage of computational social science. In the past few years, I have presented my work at the Computational Methods, Organizational Communication, Public Relations, and Political Communication divisions of major academic conferences. My articles have appeared in venues such as Journal of Communication, Computers in Human Behavior, and Public Relations Review, with recent writing currently under revise & resubmit at Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Journal of Public Relations Research, and Social Media + Society.

There are three strands to my research. In the first instance, I employ large-scale datasets to consider how digital media are transforming the ways in which people access information, maintain relationships, and organize for social change. Projects under this theme have investigated questions such as the paradox between cross-cutting news consumption and misinformation exposure, the longitudinal network dynamics of social movement organizing, and how homophily and social inequalities permeate the process.

My second line of research takes a variable-based approach to digital media, and uses web experiments and observational data to assess how media platforms nudge user behavior and create relational consequences. Projects under this theme have evaluated the role of affordances in political talks and relationship formation, furthered theoretical understanding of what anonymity means in computer mediation, and evaluated how common interactive features on social media regulate policy discussions.

I am also conducting cross-institution collaborations with a number of colleagues to create public-facing insights on recent social crises and technological developments. For example, our teams are assessing the effectiveness of public communication on COVID-19 vaccines using data provided by Facebook and the implications of AI-enabled chatbots for organizational listening and relational capacities.

A full list of my published articles, prepared manuscripts, and academic awards can be found on my CV.

My prior academic training includes an MA in Statistics (UPenn Wharton) and an MA in Strategic Public Relations (USC Annenberg). I received my undergraduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Journalism from Tsinghua University.


  • Strategic Communication
  • Political Communication
  • Computational Social Science


  • PhD in Communication, 2022

    UPenn Annenberg School

  • MA in Statistics, 2020

    UPenn Wharton School

  • MA in Strategic Public Relations, 2017

    USC Annenberg School