I'm Stephen Yang,
a media and AI researcher
Scroll down to learn more about who I am and what I do
Who's Stephen?
I'm Stephen Yang, a communication, human-computer interaction (HCI) and user experience (UX) researcher studying how AI are reshaping the ways we foster trust and authenticity on and through media. I ask: where do agency and intelligence lie when machines stand in for humans to make value judgment?

If you're interested in following my thoughts or working with me, feel free to follow me on Twitter or reach out to me at stepeche.yang [at] gmail [dot] com.
Download my CV
What am I doing?
From October 2023 to July 2023, I'm taking a gap year where I will be performing my mandatory military service in Taipei, Taiwan.

I'm applying to PhD programs in Communication and Information Science for a start date in Fall 2023. For my doctoral research, I seek to investigate the new logic of agency and intelligence when generative artificial intelligence (AI) stand in for human producers to make aesthetic and value judgment in media and cultural production.

From writing assistants (e.g., Grammarly), text-to-image generators (e.g., OpenAI’s DALL-E), to “smart” design templates (e.g., Microsoft Designer), how do technologists envision the ideals of human agency when designing these tools? How do media producers – from journalists to social media creators – craft their authentic voice when adopting these tools? As AI-generated content increasingly proliferates our media landscape, how can platform providers govern the use and misuse of such tools?
What have I done?
Most recently, I was a research intern at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England, where I studied the social, economic, and organizational logic of content creation with Nancy Baym. You can read about our research here.

In May 2022, I graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University, with a B.S. in Communication and Information Science. I graduated as the Degree Marshal of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science and a Merrill Presidential Scholar.

At Cornell, I have explored how people foster trust, authenticity, and relationships through their use and appropriation of communication technologies across a variety of socio-technical contexts, from AI development, architectural design, clinical decision-making, youth subculture, to networked activism.
Recent Updates
  • November 4, 2022 -  I just presented my project, "“Secrecy as Self-Making: Mobile Media Tactics in Underground Electronic/Dance Music Scenes," at the 23rd annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) in Dublin!
  • September 23, 2022 -  I published an article that synthesizes the social, economic, and organizational logic of content creation on the Social Media Collective blog!
  • May 31, 2022 -  I started my internship at Microsoft Research New England this summer! I'm working with Nancy Baym, Mary Gray, and Tarleton Gillespie at the Social Media Collective.
  • May 28, 2022 -  I graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University as the inaugural Degree Marshal for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science!
  • March 23, 2022 -  I am selected as a Merrill Presidential Scholar at Cornell University. Merrill Scholars represent the top 1% of graduating seniors with outstanding scholastic achievement, strong leadership ability, and demonstrated potential for contributing to society.
  • January 12, 2022 - A conference paper I co-wrote with Emily La, “The Role of Hashtags and Mobile Media in Shaping Discourse During the #IChooseFish Environmental Movement,” has  been accepted to the 72nd annual conference of the International Communication Association!
A growing number of AI researchers and practitioners agree that AI needs greater stakeholder participation, yet there's a lack of consensus regarding the specific goals, scope, and methods required for achieving meaningful participation in AI system development. By developing a conceptual framework for analyzing participatory approaches to AI design, we seek to provide recommendations to aid AI researchers and practitioners in thinking through how to foster stakeholder 's agency in AI design and development.
To navigate between hyper-visibility and under-visibility, members of under-the-radar, on-the-margin, and niche communities develop norms surrounding their mobile and social media use to foster sociality among insiders while refracting attention from outsiders. This research examines how promoters and attendees in underground electronic/dance music culture (EDMC) maintain the boundaries of the “underground” by co-constructing norms surrounding their mobile  social media use.  
Clinical decision support tools (DSTs), powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), promise to improve clinicians’ diagnosis and treatment decision-making. To examine how such systems can calibrate clinicians' trust, we investigated how clinicians validated each other’s suggestions through biomedical literature in their day-to-day practices and designed a new form of DST that embraces these naturalistic interactions.
Diversity and Inclusion
I'm a queer person of color growing up in a non-English-speaking household. As someone who have affiliations with elite institutions, I often sit in between marginality and privilege. To put my commitment to diversity and inclusion in practice, I actively seek ways to reduce barriers to success for those coming from marginalized backgrounds. This often translates to sharing tacit knowledge I acquired from prior experience and from my position of privilege.

To help foster a space of inclusivity in the classroom, I have served a a teaching assistant for 6 classes throughout my college career.  In addition, as part of the International Students Union (ISU), I curated the International Student Survival Guide to help international students adjust to life at Cornell. Furthermore, I served as a peer mentor for the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board and the COMM-Unity Project under the Department of Communication at Cornell.