“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” - Albert Einstein 

Current projects


The digital behaviors of the generation who grew up with the Internet have been under the spotlight in recent years. I study the ways in which members of the Millennial generation use digital media, in collaboration with  my advisor Gloria Mark, and Melissa Niiya, Stephanie Reich, Mark Warschauer from the School of Education at UC Irvine. We use mixed methods of computer and phone logging, sensor logging, experience sampling, survey, and interview to capture how college students incorporate digital media in their everyday college life. 

Specificially, we have explored the relationship between stress and multitasking on the computer, created an ecological view of college students’ social media use, and examined effects of sleep on digital media use. Currently, our on-going research foci include 1) using smartphone logs to predict stress; 2) exploring multitasking practices, motivations, and relevance in the college context; and 3) investigating the relationship between academic performance and digital behaviors.

In my dissertation, I address the following questions: How do social media sites such as Facebook facilitate the informal learning practices of college students? How are the ways in which college students pay attention to and engage with Facebook content relate to their informal learning experience? What values does learning through Facebook engender in a students learning ecology in college?

Selected Publications:

Wang, Y. and Mark, G. (2017). Engaging with Political and Social Issues on Facebook in College Life. (Accepted) The ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Media (CSCW’17)

Mark, G., Wang, Y., Niiya, M. and Reich, S. (2016). Sleep Debt in Student Life: Online Attention Focus, Facebook, and Mood. In Proceedings of the ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’16).

Wang, Y., Niiya, M., Mark, G., Reich, S. and Warschauer, M. (2015). Coming of Age (Digitally): An Ecological View of Social Media Use among College Students. (Accepted) ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Media (CSCW’15). (paper)

Mark, G., Wang, Y. and Niiya, M. (2014). Stress and Multitasking in Everyday College Life: An Empirical Study of Online Activity. In Proceedings of the ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’14). (paper)

Past projects

The wide adoption of social networking services provided Chinese citizens, perhaps inadvertently, with a stage to consume and disseminate news as well as to vocalize viewpoints, at times competing with reports from highly curated official media sources. I conducted two survey studies to investigate the interplay between the official media channels and citizen media channels in the context of news.    


Wang, Y. and Mark, G. (2016) News Trustworthiness and Verification in China: The Tension of Dual Media Channels. First Monday, vol.21, (2) (February 1). DOI: (paper

Wang, Y. and Mark, G. (2013) Trust in Online News: Comparing Social Media and Official Media Use by Chinese Citizens. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW’13). (paper)


(Oct. - Dec. 2014) I worked as a visiting researcher for the Wildflower Montessori project by social computing group, MIT Media Lab. With Sep Kamvar, Nazmus Saquib, Gloria Mark, and others, we sought to understand the factors related to a pre-schooler's stress, mood, ability to focus, and pro-social behaviors. I helped set up the research environment, developed a web interface for behavioral coding, and conducted initial data collection. 


(Oct. 2011 – Sep. 2012) In collaboration with Northrop Grumman, we set out to evaluate how different interface designs affect information workers’ ability to grasp critical information under time pressure. We designed and built a working prototype that displays ten chat streams simultaneously in standard chat windows and ticker tapes. We conducted a lab experiment to compare these two interfaces by how well they support signal and context detection. I participated in prototype design, managed prototype development, and designed and conducted a lab experiment for the user study.

Publication: Wang, Y., Echenique, A., Shelton, M. and Mark, G. (2013) A Comparative Evaluation of Multiple Chat Stream Interfaces for Information-intensive Environments. In Proceedings of the ACM conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’13). (paper)


(Apr. - Oct. 2012) Following the Chen Guangcheng incident in 2012, I conducted a case study of censor circumventions on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo through online participant observation. I presented the findings at the 2nd International Symposium on Digital Ethics. 

Presentation: Wang, Y. (2012). A Case Study of Censor Circumvention in Chinese Micro-blogging Site. Presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Digital Ethics, October 29, 2012, Chicago.


(Jan. - Dec. 2012) I made passing contributions to the NSF funded project that studies the use of Web 2.0 technologies in times of crises and political events (e.g., Arab Spring, 2012 U.S. Presidential Election). I helped collect large scale blog data, participated in content coding, and conducted network analyses.

(May 2010 - May 2011) As part of the NSF ADVANCE program at New Jersey Institute of Technology, I conducted a campus-wide faculty collaboration network study using interview and network mapping (with Nancy Steffen-Fluhr, Roxanne Hiltz, Katia Passerine, Anatoliy Gruzd,  and Regina Collins). I presented the findings at the 31th Sunbelt Conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis.

Presentation: Wang, Y. and Steffen-Fluhr, N. (2011). Increasing the Reliability, Sustainability and Scalability of Social Network Data Collection. Presented at the 31st International Sunbelt Social Network Conference, Feb. 8 – 13, 2011, Florida.

© Yiran Wang 2016