Zihan Gao


PhD Student Information School University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 53706 Email: zihan [dot] gao [at] wisc [dot] edu

View My GitHub Profile

About me

I am currently a third-year PhD student at the Information School of University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am fortunate to work with Prof. Jacob Thebault-Spieker and the amazing members in the Mad Collab. Before entering UW-Madison, I received my B.M. in Information Management Department and B.S. in Psychology Department from Peking University, under the supervision of Prof. Pengyi Zhang. Here is my CV.

Research Interest

I have delved into understanding the complexities faced by individuals, particularly those undergoing significant social transitions like migration for employment and assimilating into unfamiliar terrains. My endeavors focus on deciphering nuanced, often implicit localness-centric information, trying to address the existing data voids in contemporary systems like LLMs. I aim to develop innovative tools that seamlessly bridge the divide between abstract notions, such as localness, and tangible, quantifiable data. Furthermore, I have examined the ramifications of permanent suspensions on social media platforms. My research extends beyond a singular platform, shedding light on content moderation’s ripple effects across the broader digital landscape. I am committed to unraveling the behaviors of deplatformed users and providing insights to inform judicious decision-making processes related to permanent suspensions, ensuring a balanced and inclusive digital ecosystem.


[1] Zihan Gao. Jacob Thebault-Spieker. 2024. Investigating Influential Users’ Responses to Permanent Suspension on Social Media. CSCW 2024. pdf

[2] Zihan Gao. Jiepu Jiang. Evaluating Human-AI Hybrid Conversational Systems with Chatbot Message Suggestions. In Proceedings of the 30th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2021).pdf

[3] Jieli Liu, Zihan Gao, Pengyi Zhang. “Exploring How Topic Characteristics Influence Online Discussion Quality.” In Proceedings of the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 2020.(poster)pdf


TA in UW-Madison IS Dept from Spring 2022 to Spring 2023 (Course: Data and Algorithms: Ethics and Policy)