ICR welcomes 2023 cohort

The Institute of Communications Research is excited to announce our newest cohort! Please learn more about the students' research interests below and join us in welcoming them to the University of Illinois College of Media community this fall. For more information, see full student profiles.

Weiting DuWeiting Du earned his master's degree in journalism from Michigan State University, specializing in science and environmental journalism, and holds a bachelor's degree in ecological environmental engineering from Chongqing University. Weiting’s research interests encompass media effects and risk communication under the context of climate change, with a particular interest in climate inactions. In parallel, Weiting explores how contemporary visual imagery represents the complex interplay between human-environment relationships, collective memories, and broader societal issues. Weiting's past research covers topics such as the social power of photography in China and persuasive health messages.

Yewon HongYewon Hong received her master’s degree in cultural studies/critical theory and analysis from the University of Amsterdam and a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Yonsei University. Her research interests include cuteness, aesthetics, affect, game, critical theory, cultural studies, and cultural analysis.


Yanbo LiYanbo Li’s research interests lie at the intersection of computational communication and political communication. Specifically, Li is interested in using computational methods to learn about online misinformation and incivility contagion inside and between different countries and the possible factors that foster these processes.


Veranika PaltaratskayaVeranika Paltaratskaya completed her bachelor's degree in neuroscience and art history at Emory University, and her master's in advertising at UIUC. Veranika’s master’s thesis focused on the topic of time perception during media use. Her current research focuses on time perception, message fatigue, and computational approaches to communications research. 


Se II (James) ParkSe II (James) Park received his master’s in advertising and bachelor’s in communication, both from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Se Il’s interdisciplinary research focuses on persuasive messages in the context of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Metaverse, and Web 3.0. He wants to examine the difference in consumer behavior in a more immersive and intelligent virtual. In addition, he worked for the Korean government agency, KOTRA, as a marketing consultant in Chicago and for a blockchain project, WEMIX, as a business development and PR manager in Korea.

Nisa RahmanNisa Rahman received her MS in advertising from the College of Media at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and BA in communication from Purdue University - West Lafayette. Nisa’s research interest lies in emerging technologies and their effect on social behavior in the context of health communication. This exploration takes shape through studies utilizing anthropomorphic conversational agents, i.e., "chatbots" to debunk health misinformation and persuade behavior change, as well as the effect of modality in cognitive processing. Nisa is also interested in the intersections between gender presentations and its influence in Human-AI Communication. 

Wei XiaoWei Xiao received her MA in communication, culture, and technology from Georgetown University and BA in communication and economics from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is broadly interested in exploring alternative approaches to the reasoning behind sharing dis/misinformation to debunk dis/misinformation or inoculate people against misinformation. Her research also involves technology policy topics, such as data privacy, free expression, and AI governance. While fighting traditional disinformation, Wei is equally dedicated to addressing the potential ramifications inherent in AI-amplified disinformation scenarios. 

Junwei ZhanJunwei Zhan received his master's degree in fine arts from the University of Oregon. Before joining ICR, he explored gardens and vehicles in Japan as media to better understand the condition and method of language/culture. Junwei's research interests are centered around the relations between subjectivity, governmentality, global media network and the network’s interpretive power, which eradicate the boundary between public/private space, human/posthuman and self-governing/self-enslaving. Besides his academic research on communication and media, he is also a cross-disciplinary artist.

Zixuan Melodie ZhaoZixuan (Melodie) Zhao earned her BA and MA degrees in journalism from the University of Missouri. She is primarily researching the social and psychological effects of media messages and digital media use. Her specific interests revolve around the interactions between interactive media technologies and individuals' identity, perceptions of "otherness," and social relationships, as well as their role in driving social mobilization or polarization. 

Nini ZhouNini Zhou’s research interests include critical studies of communication, free labor of women online, and female digital communities.