Alvin Zhou

Alvin Zhou

Ph.D. Candidate

UPenn Annenberg

About Me

Hi, welcome to my homepage. I am Alvin Zhou, a Ph.D. candidate (track: digital media, social networks, and computational social science) 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 Spring/Summer 2022, and will be on the job market since Fall/Winter 2021.

I conduct theory-driven computational research on political communication and strategic communication. You can find my published work 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. I usually present my studies at the Computational Methods, Public Relations, and Political Communication divisions of major academic conferences.

I graduated from the Wharton School with a dual Master in Statistics, focusing on the causal inference framework and machine learning methods. I obtained my M.A. in Strategic Public Relations from the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, supervised by Aimei Yang. I hold dual bachelor’s degrees (B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering & B.A. in Journalism) from Tsinghua University.

I am the group coordinator of the DiMeNet research group, where I work for a NSF grant that employs computational tools to study digital news consumption. I am also active in the DIG research group, where I am collaborating with Yphtach Lelkes and Kokil Jaidka on several studies that explore the role of affordances in human communication. I am also interested in using computational methods for theoretical inquiries on strategic communication. Past projects have examined how public relations fosters social capitals among diverse organizational publics and how digital media are changing its practice. This series of work has won a Robert Heath Award and two Top Faculty Paper Awards at ICA, a PRIDE Article of the Year Award and two Top Student Paper Awards at NCA, and an Arthur W. Page Legacy Scholar recognition.

I was a communication practitioner before entering the academia. Between 2014 and 2016, I was a reporter and later on a freelance writer at Vista Story. I have also worked for BlueFocus Communication Group as a public relations consultant, and for China Central Television and Xinhua News Agency as a reporter.


  • 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