泽    南

Zenan Chen, a.k.a Alan,
is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in
Information Systems*.
I study Technologies ✕ Productivity.

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At the University of Minnesota, I employ both empirical and analytical methods to study the effects of design, usage, and provision of productivity-enhancing technologies.

* I maintain a list of IS scholars on  #ISTwitter
** I built ISJobs.xyz, a crowd-sourced job posting repository

Working Papers

  1. Less is Not Always More:
    Investigating the Impact of Block Difficulty
    and Immediacy of Social Media Blockers on Productivity
    with Jason Chan
  2. (Best Paper in General IS Track @ ICIS 2022, Best Student Paper @ WITS 2022)

  3. Investigating the Coordination of Functionality Richness, First-party Content Quality, and Revenue-sharing on Digital Platforms
    with Soumya Sen
  4. 5-minute Ignite Talk @ BU Platform Symposium 2022 

  5. Effects of General-purpose Chatbot on Human Performance
    - with Jason Chan

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 taught IDSC 4444 Descriptive & Predictive Analytics, an undergraduate course, in Fall 2020 and Fall 2021. I was welcomed by students, scoring 4.8/5 on RateMyProfessor and 5.36/6 in the official SRT.

Read student testimonials

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.

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.


Fun Stuff

I enjoy art, design, skiing & snowboarding, road trips, and of course, photography and typesetting my own photo books. I also take portraits of my good friends.