Messi (Hojun) Lee

Psychological & Brain Sciences

Calvin Lai & Jacob Montgomery 


I am a second year PhD student in the Division of Computational & Data Sciences and a McDonnell International Scholar from the partner institution Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I have a BSc in Quantitative Social Analysis and graduated with the Academic Achievement Award in 2020. As an undergraduate, I studied sentiments in censored song lyrics during the Third and Fourth Republic of South Korea and political astroturfing campaigns on Twitter.

I currently work at the Diversity Science Lab in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences with Calvin Lai and Jacob Montgomery (in the Political Sciences Department).

Research interests and current project:
We study biased representations of social groups in natural language. We are particularly interested in how racial and ethnic groups in the United States are prejudiced with respect to relative superiority/inferiority and Americanness/foreignness and use computational linguistic models to capture the collective and interactive processes by which these groups define themselves in relation to others.

Why did you decide to pursue your PhD at WashU?
Freshly out of undergrad, I wanted to continue doing research but was not sure if I wanted to continue studying political astroturfing campaigns. As part of my graduate experience, I wanted to spend the first year or so exploring various research opportunities and identifying research projects that I felt passionate about. As I was browsing options for grad school, the DCDS program at WashU caught my attention not only because it had a remarkable line-up of faculty members, but also because it required students to do rotations where they would have a chance to work with them.

Looking back, the flexibility of the program and the support from diverse faculty members in the program really pushed me to get to where I am. Two years into the program, I am proud of my research and grateful for the resources and opportunities I have here at WashU.