Position title: Assistant Professor
316 Hiram Smith Hall
Virtual Office Hours: T 3:45-5:00 pm; or by appointment.
Kaiping Chen is an assistant professor in computational communication in the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an affiliate of the UW-Madison Robert & Jean Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies and the Center for East Asian Studies.
Chen’s research employs data science to examine how digital media and technologies affect political accountability to public well-being and how deliberative designs can improve public discourse on controversial and emerging technologies. Under the first research line, Chen revealed the strategies politicians use to manage and manipulate online citizen requests in democratic and authoritarian countries. Chen demonstrated how the promise of digital technology to empower citizens’ voices can be compromised by political interests and information burdens. Chen’s new projects under this line investigate how politicians respond to testimonies from scientists and manipulate science for political agendas. Under the second research line, Chen explores whether ordinary citizens have the capacity to engage in thoughtful discussion on complex policy issues when they are exposed to deliberative communication environments vs organic online platforms such as social media. Chen demonstrated that a deliberative process can foster people’s thoughtful discussion on well-being issues including food security, sustainable agriculture and environment, and public health. This thoughtful discussion can further increase civic participation in community development. Chen’s new projects further explore this line in two ways. One is about designing effective communication strategies (through deliberation and framing) to advance public understanding of highly complex science topics such as gene-editing and AI. The other involves studying how to mitigate the spread of misinformation on science topics across digital platforms. Chen’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Her works have been published, or forthcoming, in peer-reviewed journals across disciplines including American Political Science Review, Public Opinion Quarterly, Public Understanding of Science, Journal of Science Communication, Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, International Public Management Journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, among others.
Chen received her Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University and earned her Master of Public Administration from Columbia University.