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Hannah Wang Earns The Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Although they often conjure images of time-wasting and cat memes, online discussion communities may have quietly become the new crucibles of civic literacy and leadership skill development.

In collaboration with Prof. Seth Frey and Beril Bulat of the Computational Communication Lab, Communication undergraduate Hannah Wang, alongside Cognitive Science and Statistics major Stephen Fujimoto, investigated how these skills are developed by volunteer community moderators on the discussion site Reddit.
 
Surveying thousands of moderators who, with no formal training or support from Reddit, Inc., manage “subreddit” communities, they found a relationship between how moderators govern their community and psychological feelings of competency and connectedness. This suggests that by understanding the predictors of online community success and moderator empowerment, we may be able to improve the consistency and reliability of online community success. These findings may also aid platforms in providing solutions to a pressing problem: that most online communities fail.
 
This research has been accepted at the 24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, and will be presented this summer as well as published in the conference proceedings. And it is already making waves in the UC Davis community, as Hannah has been selected as the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. This award follows her prior honors, as this project was awarded the Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship and 3rd place in the 2021 Undergrad Slam video contest. Hannah and Stephen also had an opportunity to lead 23 other undergraduate researchers, who earned research credits distributing the survey and building the dataset, and benefitted from computational training from Prof. Frey.
 
The department is very proud of Stephen and Hannah's success and initiative, as well as the excellent mentoring that they received from Beril Bulat, a fourth year Ph.D. student in the department.