Zihan Gao


PhD Student
Information School
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706

Email: zihan [dot] gao [at] wisc [dot] edu

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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

My research focuses on the interplay between Human-in-the-Loop, Spatial Computing, and Social Computing. Moving to a new place often presents challenges that span the understanding of the local geography, culture, social integration, etc. My current projects aim to identify and address the gaps in local knowledge that newcomers face. The goal is to develop tools that leverage techniques from Human-Computer Interaction, Spatial Computing, and Machine Learning. These tools are designed to provide clear, quantifiable insights into local contexts at a large scale, making it easier for people to integrate and feel at home in new environments.


[1] Zihan Gao. Justin Cranshaw. Jacob Thebault-Spieker. 2024. Journeying Through Sense of Place with Mental Maps: Characterizing Changing Spatial Understanding and Sense of Place During Migration for Work. CSCW 2024.

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

[3] 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

[4] 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)