Zenan Chen, a.k.a Alan,
is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in Information Systems*. I study societal problems caused by technologies and their remedies.
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At the University of Minnesota, I employ both empirical and analytical methods to study excessive social media usage, surveillance on students, platform economics, and broadband market, with my advisors Jason Chan and Soumya Sen.
* I also maintain a list of IS scholars on #ISTwitter .
- Less is Not Always More:
Investigating the Impact of Goal Difficulty
and Immediacy of Social Media Blockers on Productivity— with Jason Chan
- Attendance Tracking Apps and Academic Performance: Evidence from a Field Study
— with Jason Chan, Yuan Sun
- Dynamics of User Preference in the Broadband Market: Implications on the pricing, provision, and coverage
— with Soumya Sen, Alok Gupta
- Platform Integration, First-party Advantage, and Third-party Content Creation
— with Soumya Sen
Draft available upon request
Methods & Skills
I am native to a wide range of machine learning & data analytics methods and tools, including Python, R, Stata, Mathematica, and many other popular data science tools and packages.
In my emprical research, I love to design experiments when possible. As a full-stack developer, I am capable of designing and executing digtial expeirments independently from scratch. For example, I developed a Chrome Extension and a server backend to execute and manage one of my randomized field experiments that examine the effect of social media blocker on productivity. I also employ causal inference methods to study data from natural experiments and secondary data. In my analytical reseach, I use game theory and microeconomic models to help study abstract problems.
I love contributing to the open-source community. I help fix bugs in data-science-related pakcages and develops open-source tools on Github.
I first taught Exploratory & Predictive Analytics, a 4000 level undergraduate course, in Fall 2020. I always try to engage with students and help students to think actively. I was welcomed by students, scoring 4.7/5 on RateMyProfessor and 5.23/6 in the official SRT.
I am also a long-time teaching assistant of the acclaimed Master of Business Analytics (MSBA) program at Carlson School of Management. In addition, I gave a guest lecture on Natural Language Processing in an MBA class.
Read my teaching statement
Read student testimonials
A bit of History
I was born in Guangzhou, a big city in southern China in 1996. From 2014 to 2018, I attended the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen.
I started multiple ventures and side-projects during my undergrad years. I first co-founded the Photography Interest Club (P.I.C.) with three other founding members. At the same time, I co-founded Qianjian (“humble opinions” in Chinese), a platform that promotes critical thinking and civil discussions by facilitating discussions on social issues online. As Qianjian became influential on the campus, I later expanded this venture and co-founded the Stay magazine, a student magazine that covers student life, career advice, social justice, and feminism.
I graduated in 2018 with a bachelor degree in Applied Economics. In August, I joined the Ph.D. program at Carlson School of Management @ UMN and moved to Minneapolis.
I enjoy art, design, skiing & snowboarding, road trips, and of course, photography and typesetting my own photo books. To me, street photography is an alternative lens to observe the world around me. I also take portraits of my good friends.