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Zefeng Zhang

Hi there!

I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI), co-advised by Dr. Oliver Haimson and Dr. Michaelanne Thomas. 


I use ethnographic methods to study the interplay among labor, identity, mobility, and infrastructure in transnational contexts informed by the fields of HCI (Human-computer interaction), ICTD (Information Communication Technologies & Development), and Science and Technology Studies (STS).

Currently, I am conducting multi-sited ethnographic research for my dissertation in China. It explores the sociotechnical, cultural, and economic dimensions of AI/data labor in the context of large-scale data infrastructures and ways to improve technology design and policy for digitally-mediated labor communities.  


Prior to graduate school, I worked for a few years as a journalist and photographer in Beijing, China. I enjoy cycling, swimming, running, scuba diving, and mountaineering. Please feel free to contact me directly.

Research areas:

  • Human-Computer Interaction and Social Computing

  • Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

  • Information Communication Technologies & Development (ICTD)

  • Labor, Mobility, and Infrastructure

  • ​Platform and data governance 

  • Qualitative research methods


Selected for CSCW and AoIR Doctoral Consortium

I have been selected to be part of the CSCW 2023 Doctoral Consortium and AoIR 2023 Doctoral Colloquium! Extremely honored to be a part of these and get feedback on my early dissertation work. June 102023

Workshop paper accepted for CHI 2023

A workshop paper I co-authored with Oliver Haimson and Michaelanne Thomas titled "The Labor of Training Artificial Intelligence: Data Infrastructure, Mobility, and Marginality" has been accepted for the Behind the Scenes of Automation workshop at CHI 2023. I am also very excited to be serving as a Student Volunteer (SV). April 172023

Lieberthal-Rogel Travel and Research Fellowship

​I am very honored to receive the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies' Lieberthal-Rogel Travel and Research Fellowship. I am so excited that this award will support my research for Summer 2023! April 14, 2023

Rackham International Research Awards (RIRA)

I am very excited to announce that I have been awarded an International Institute Student Fellowship for my early dissertation fieldwork in China! April 14, 2023

Acceptance to the 2023 Digital IDEAS Summer Institute

I will be participating in the 2023 Digital IDEAS Summer
on Digital Physical Entanglements: Environments, Bodies, and Space this July at the Digital Studies Institute, University of Michigan.  March 21.2023


DIS 2023 program committee

I am serving on the program committee for DIS 2023 as an associate chair in Critical Computing and Design Theory & Change Through Design track. Very excited to support the paper-reviewing process!  Feburary. 21.2023

Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant funding received

I received a Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant for my early dissertation fieldwork in China. January 31.2023

Acceptance to Digital Ethnography Research Centre Summer Program

I will be participating in the Digital Ethnography Research Centre summer program on Digital Ethnography Fieldwork and Analysis: Studying hybrid contexts of human+ non-human+ more-than-human entanglements this Feb at RMIT University! January 20.2023

I'm now a Ph.D. Candidate!

So excited to announce that I passed my Field Prelim Exam today, and I'm now a PhD Candidate! Thanks so much to my prelim committee for all of their support and valuable feedback: Julie Hui, Kentaro Toyama, Michaelanne Thomas, and Oliver L. Haimson. August 25.2022

Paper accepted for CSCW 2022 

I am excited to announce that my pre-candidacy paper, "The Chinese Diaspora and The Attempted WeChat Ban: Platform Precarity, Anticipated Impacts, and Infrastructural Migration," co-authored by Oliver L. Haimson and Michaelanne Thomas, has been accepted for CSCW 2022. June 17.2022

Received Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award! 

I received UMSI’s Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) of the Year Award for the 2021-2022 academic year. I very much enjoyed working as a GSI in the Bachelor of Science in Information (BSI) courses - SI 482: Interaction Design Studio and SI 350: UX Field Research in the Public Sector. May 31.2022

Workshop papers accepted for CHI 2022 HCI Across Borders

Our workshop papers Migrations in the U.S. and Five Declarations on Borders for HCI: A Series of PositionStatements from the AnthroTech Lab were accepted by CHI 2022 HCI Across Borders workshop. This workshop focus on “Navigating Shifting Borders at CHI.” March 20, 2022

Papers accepted for CSCW 2022

"Social Media's Role During Identity Changes Related to Major Life Events," a paper I co-authored with Shanley Corvite (lead author) and Oliver L. Haimson, and "Separate Online Networks During Life Transitions: Support, Identity, and Challenges in Social Media and Online Communities," co-first-authored with Tianxiao Liu, Shanley Corvite, Oliver L. Haimson and co-authoredNazanin Andalibi. were accepted for CSCW 2022.  March 18, 2022

I passed my doctoral pre-candidacy defense!

I passed my pre-candidacy paper and defense today. Thanks so much to my committee for their support along the way: Kentaro Toyama, Michaelanne Thomas, and Oliver L. Haimson. September 23, 2021

Paper accepted for CSCW 2021 

"The Online Authenticity Paradox: What Being 'Authentic' on Social Media Means, and Barriers to Achieving It," co-authored with Oliver L. Haimson (lead author), Tianxiao Liu, and Shanley Corvite. June 17.2021

Workshop paper accepted for CHI 2021

A workshop paper I co-authored with Oliver Haimson and Michaelanne Thomas titled "The Chinese Diaspora: Overlapping Life Transitions, Barriers, and HCI" has been accepted for the Migration and Mobility in HCI Workshop at CHI 2021May 8, .2021 

I'm starting my PhD in Information at UMSI!

I'm starting my PhD in Information this fall at University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI). I am excited about working with Dr. Oliver Haimson and Dr. Michaelanne Thomas in the coming years. August 25, 2020

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