About Me

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Industrial and System Engineering, Virginia Tech

Email: ranxu@vt.edu

Research Interest: Quantitative methods, Computational social science, Social networks, Organizational behavior, Education and Science policy.

My current research has two streams. The first stream of my research is focused on social network analysis. My research in this area focus on (1) developing new methodology tools for social network analysis, and (2) applying statistical analysis and simulation methods to study how networks shape people’s behavior and how networks are formed. My dissertation concerns the identification, estimation and sensitivity analysis of contagion effects using longitudinal social network data. Other examples of my work in this area include developing agent-based models to study the co-evolution of network and behavior, using structured or unstructured data to study mating patterns of American black bears, communication patterns in social media of users in a traumatic event, how beginning math teachers navigate their careers through social networks, as well as how knowledge network evolves in over half a million US dissertations in the last two decades.

The second stream of my research is focused on system thinking. My research in this area focus on employing computational (e.g. agent-based modeling and system dynamics modeling) and empirical (data analytics) approaches to study the complex relations between factors at play in a decision system, and identify the strategies or policy levers that can best change the system. Examples of my work in this area include using agent-based model to study how to implement evidence based practice in human service organizations, using system dynamics model to develop a decision support system for customer adoption of a new technology product for Dell, using both system dynamics model and statistical analysis to identify the effect of elimination of mandatory retirement policy on the demographics of US faculty.

I received my PhD in measurement and quantitative methods from Michigan State University in 2016.