I'm Stephen Yang,
a UX and HCI researcher
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Who's Stephen?
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I'm Stephen Yang, a UX and HCI researcher. I’m currently a senior at Cornell University studying Communication and Information Science.  This summer, I will be interning at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England!

As a researcher, I study participatory approaches to AI design with Prof. Qian Yang, and I study mobile social media practices on the margins with Prof. Lee Humphreys.

I run a bi-weekly column in the the Cornell Daily Sun where I write about the shifting landscape of technology and culture. My most recent article discusses what the internet trend of “yassification” reveals about the gendered ideals embedded in the design of AI-powered photo-editing apps.

I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, where I spent my childhood finding new spots for taro desserts. I miss them all the time when I'm in the U.S.
Recent Updates
  • May 9, 2022 -  My project, "“Secrecy as Self-Making: Mobile Media Tactics in Underground Electronic/Dance Music Scenes," has been accepted to the 23rd annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR). See you in Dublin!
  • May 2, 2022 -  I  presented my honors thesis, “Secrecy as Self-Making: Mobile Media Tactics in Underground Electronic/Dance Music Scenes,” at the Communication Colloquium Series of the Department of Communication at Cornell University!
  • May 2, 2022 -  I am selected to serve as the inaugural Degree Marshal for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science at the Commencement Ceremonies for the 154th Graduating Class!
  • April 28, 2022 -  I just presented a workshop paper, "Examining Proxies for Stakeholder Participation in AI Design: Participating Via Stand-ins, Advocates, and Algorithmic Proxies," at the Proxies, Warm-ups, and Stand-ins  Virtual Symposium based on my collaborative project with Fernando Delgado, Michael Madaio, Qian Yang.
  • March 23, 2022 -  I am selected as a Merrill Presidential Scholar (top 1% of graduating seniors) at Cornell University. Merrill Scholars are graduating seniors  with outstanding scholastic achievement, strong leadership ability, and demonstrated potential for contributing to society.
  • Febuary 9, 2022 - I will be interning at Microsoft Research New England this summer! I will be working with Nancy Baym, Mary Gray, and Tarleton Gillespie at the Social Media Collective.
  • 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. I seek to provide recommendations to aid AI researchers and practitioners in thinking through how to increase stakeholder agency in AI design projects.
Complex algorithms and data-intensive predictions increasingly characterize clinical decision support tools (DSTs) Amidst the various attempts of explaining the inner-working of DST predictions, we investigated an alternative approach to explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) in the case of clinical DSTs – leveraging trusted source of evidence to explain DST predictions. Drawing from interviews with care providers, we seek to understand how clinicians search and make sense of biomedical literature to validate diagnostic or treatment hypotheses at point-of-care.
In light of privacy and surveillance concerns, countercultural communities often repurpose information and communication technologies (ICTs) to navigate the tension between maintaining their secrecy on the margins and growing their community through self-promotion. This project investigates how participants of underground dance scenes navigate such tension through their mobile social media practices. I'm interested in  how mobile social media remediate the communication, social and spatial practices of communities on the margins.
Following the series of controversies surrounding he ecological catastrophe along the north-central Vietnamese coast that begin in April 2016, the hashtag #IChooseFish serves as the proxy through which the Vietnamese public shared information on upcoming protests, emergency relief for residents in fishing villages, as well as fundraising efforts to conduct independent research in the contaminated area. This project seeks to contribute to an empirical understanding of how the adoption of hashtags and mobile social media has reshaped civic participation in the contemporary one-party state of Vietnam.
Research Interests
Much of my research centers around how communities on margins appropriate information and communication technologies (ICTs) to realize their own needs. My past projects have investigated practices surrounding mobile social media, clinical decision-support systems, and search engines.

Furthering these line of inquiries, I'm interested in how such technologies can be better designed and governed to empower such communities. I'm particularly drawn to participatory approaches to developing socio-technical systems with communities.

Trained in Communication, I have experience utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods, ranging from interviews, participant observation, design workshops, surveys, to regression analysis.
Diversity and Inclusion
As a queer person of color that didn't grow up in an English-speaking household., 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. 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 have been serving as a peer mentor for the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board and the COMM-Unity Project under the Department of Communication at Cornell.