I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Indiana University. I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at Columbia University with the Robert Merton Award for Best Dissertation. I have been using causal inference, network analysis, and machine learning methods to study social divisions, political polarization, and social determinants of health.
I am currently pursuing three research agendas. First, I aim to understand how Americans have responded to the COVID-19 disaster. I designed and conducted a daily nationwide network-oriented social survey that records over 36,300 Americans’ social lives and pandemic responses each day from April 10 2020 to April 5 2021. Using this data, I have been working on projects on trends of physical isolation and network patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic; othering processes in social networks and racial discrimination; network influences on mask-wearing and vaccine hesitancy; the impact of check-in networks on mental health and loneliness; and improving epidemic modeling using egocentric networks.
Second, I study how social contexts shape health status and behaviors using causal inference, multilevel modeling and network analysis. In my recent works, I employed a quasi-experimental design to identify peer influence on adolescents’ mental health; developed a novel multilevel modeling strategy to combine suicide cases and living individuals to study the contextual influence on suicide net of individual risk factors; and conducted the difference-in-difference analysis using panel matching to evaluate the impact of state policies targeting the US opioid epidemic. Currently, I have been investigating the impact of the Great Recession and unemployment on suicide, the role of religion in suicide, racial disparities in the US opioid epidemics, and the impacts of universal cash transfer on mental health outcomes.
Third, another stream of my research addresses the co-evolution of social networks, cultural beliefs, and political polarization across different contexts. My recent work shows that intense politicization induced political isolation in 2016, and further reduced a cross-ideological exposure in close social relationships in the aftermath of contested elections. My current work examines how cultural belief networks are activated in response to polarizing events. With support from National Science Foundation, I also investigate the characteristics of online foci that foster cross-ideological interactions and civil discourses. This project leverages a large-scale multilevel dataset that covers all public conversations that unfolded during the 2016 US presidential election campaign across 1,058 major political forums on Facebook, consisting of 1.2 billion comments, and 10.8 billion reactions among three hundred million users.
My work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Proceedings of National Academy of Science and several other outlets. You can find a link to my CV here.
PhD in Sociology, 2018
MA in Sociology, 2014
MA in Sociology, 2012
BA in Business Administration, 2009