“The longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind” were what Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, lived for. These are also my life goals and my motivations for research.
I am a Ph.D candidate in Communication from University of Connecticut (UConn). I obtained my M.A. in Television-Radio-Film and B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University and Dalian University of Technology (China), respectively. Throughout my career I’ve pursued cross training in both professional media production and academic research on message processing and design, with a focus on emotion and multimedia journalism.
I see myself as a storyteller, but more importantly, an active storyteller interested in conducting research in cognitive and emotional factors in the processing and effectiveness of health and risk messages. While traditional analytic-cognitive factors have been stressed in health and risk communication, emotion plays a critical role in decision-making. Therefore, applying emotion theories to study health and risk related social issues is my major research agenda.
I discovered my interest in research when I worked as an associate-director for a documentary TV program on human-animal and human-environment relationships at the China Central Television (CCTV), the leading TV network in China. As an associate-director, I firstly realized that telling a story is not only about following “The Hero’s Journey” in our textbook, but also building a relationship between the visual content and the audience. I began to think about how people mentally process the entertainment message and what makes a story appealing. Besides learning from experiences (i.e., using close-ups to build emotional connections and asking questions to engage the audiences), being a curious person, I also wanted to know why these production rules are rules, and whether our documentaries will really influence people’s perceptions, attitudes, memories and behaviors.
In my doctoral work at UConn, I've extended my research interest in online news sharing in collaboration with such faculty as Dr. Ross Buck, Dr. David Atkin, and Dr. Carolyn Lin. Currently, I am working on a dissertation addressing the design infographics, which has been widely used in digital journalism and data visualization. This work closely examines both the content and complexity of infographics, in terms of cognitive processing and persuasive effects.