Me at the Nuremberg Imperial Castle, Germany in Summer 2017.

Hello there! Thanks for thinking I'm interesting enough to check up on. If you've come this far, I encourage you to say hello before you leave :)

My name is Yixin Zou (pronounced "Yee-Shin Zoh"). I am a PhD Candidate at University of Michigan, School of Information advised by Florian Schaub. I am part of the Security and Privacy Interaction (SPI) Lab, the Michigan Interactive and Social Computing (MISC) group, and the Center for Ethics, Society, and Computing (ESC). I also work closely with the Usable Privacy Policy Project team at Carnegie Mellon University, the GWUSEC Lab at George Washington University, and a New York City-based research team that studies computer security and privacy issues for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).

My research is broadly about usable security and privacy. I study factors that prevent people from adopting security and privacy protective measures, as well as the unique threat models and safety needs of at-risk populations (e.g., survivors of intimate partner violence and older adults). Based on such knowledge, I develop human-centered solutions that combine technology, policy, and education to help people protect themselves from perceived risks. My research has been published at top HCI and security venues including CHI, CSCW, and USENIX Security. I'm also interested in making my research relevant to policymakers: I've been an invited speaker at the US Federal Trade Commission's annual PrivacyCon, and a series of work with my CMU collaborators has directly influenced the California Consumer Privacy Act's rulemaking process.

I will be joining the Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy in January 2023 as a tenure-track faculty member! I'll have several openings for postdocs, PhD students, and research interns for my group at MPI-SP. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in working with me. To get an overview of my research interests and mentoring philosophy, please check out my [Research Statement] [Teaching Statement] [Diversity Statement].

Selected Honors and Awards


  • Jun 2022 My dissertation defense is scheduled to happen on August 24. I am both excited and terrified O.O
  • Jun 2022 I will be attending SOUPS 2022 in person! Looking forward to having fun in Boston. My co-authors and I have a paper "Aunties, Strangers, and the FBI: Online Privacy Concerns and Experiences of Muslim-American Women" (led by Tanisha Afnan).
  • May 2022 Finished my job search and accepted a tenure-track faculty position at MPI-SP. Yay!
  • May 2022 Had a great time at CHI 2022 in New Orleans. Check out the video presentation of our work on "Trauma-Informed Computing: Towards Safer Technology Experiences for All."
  • Jan 2022 I led a series of workshops to teach the general public about online self-defense as part of the Privacy@Michigan event.