Spotlight Research

Computational Communication Research Lab: C^2

Our Computational Communication Research Lab (run by Profs. Hilbert, Shen, Frey & Barnett) uses the digital (big data) footprint, computer simulations, machine-learning and other techniques to detect new patterns in human and social communication.

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Data Science for the United Nations: 5 students in Chile

Prof. Hilbert and a team of five UC Davis students are developing a big data online observatory for the UN Secretariat in Latin America and the Caribbean. The project explores how public online data can be used to inform international development policies. Three students spent three months in Chile, while two others continue to stay there for even longer, and one new student will be joining the team.


Cyber Support: Bo Feng

How do people respond to advice? How do their responses vary when that advice comes from cyberspace? Associate Professor of Communication Bo Feng explores what factors improve the effectiveness of supportive cyber-messaging.

Communication varies across contexts. Figuring out effective, as well as ineffective, ways of communication requires a scientific approach.  

Communication in Virtual Reality and Video Games

In the VICTR Lab, Associate Professor Jorge Peña and students study communication technology—how people interact with the Internet, video games, virtual reality and other digital technology, and how these interactions affect real world behavior.

Undergraduate research assistant Emily Fong sits in one room of a two-room laboratory suite in Kerr Hall. A curtain-covered window separates the rooms. On Emily's side of the curtain hang instructions for an experiment. A sticky note pasted to a nearby iMac commands: “RECORD the Session or DIE!”

Are Men Better Gamers Than Women?

Study debunks the gender performance gap in two massively multiplayer online games.

Although more and more women have become gamers, gaming communities and culture are still somewhat hostile toward women. There is a long-held stereotype that men are better gamers than women. This has received some support in prior research on digital games, which illustrates a perceived gender gap in participation and performance, suggesting that men play more often and more competitively than women.

Sex in the Workplace on TV

New study: "Touchy Subjects: Sex in the Workplace on Broadcast, Cable, and Internet Television.

Workplace sexual harassment is a serious issue in the United States and globally. Attitudes towards sexual harassment may be shaped by the portrayal of sexual behavior in the workplace on television.

Study replicates avatar effects on gamers' physical activity in the real world

Does your avatar's size effect your physical activity?

In a recent study published in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Professor Jorge Peña and graduate students Subuhi Khan and Cassandra Alexopoulos show that men assigned to an obese avatar in a tennis video game showed decreased physical activity in the real world compared with those assigned to a thin avatar. This occurred regardless of the player’s actual body size.