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David P. Fan

Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development
Adjunct Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

In my home department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, my research interests were originally in laboratory biology. At one point, I saw how the mathematics in my biological research could be transferred to describe the evolution of society in response to persuasive information. I studied that evolution by scoring press coverage by computer and using the scores to predict time trends of the adoption and unadoption of ideas.

Among the evolutions I have predicted have been the drop and rise in the reputation of carmaker Toyota following massive recalls in 2010, the adoption of the Internet, and the movement of pre-election polls both up and down during political elections. I further adapted my model to predict the diffusion of ideas in social networks over time. For many of the studies, the predictions were based on computer content analyses of text derived from news coverage and social media including blogs, Internet forums, and Twitter. I have been awarded four patents that have been used in my computer software for analyzing text.

Related Publications

Fan, D., Geddes, D., and Flory, F. (2013). The Toyota recall crisis: Media impact on Toyota’s corporate brand reputation. Corporate Reputation Review, February 2013 issue.

Best and Fan, 2012Best, S. and Fan, D. (2012). The campaign mattered … a little. Huffington Post,, Posted November 5.

Fan, D. (2012). Cumulative media effects. In Donsbach, W., editor, The International Encyclopedia of Communication. Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Blackwell Reference Online. 10 February,

Kim et al., 2011Kim, E., Han, J. Y., Shah, D., Shaw, B., McTavish, F., Gustafson, D. H., and Fan, D. (2011). Predictors of supportive message expression and reception in an interactive cancer communication system. Journal of Health Communication, 16(10):1106–1121.

Bengston et al., 2010Bengston, D. N., Fan, D. P., and Kaye, R. (2010). The national public’s values and interests related to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: A computer content analysis. International Journal of Wilderness, 16:13–20.