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Luyao Zhang

Assistant Professor of Economics at Duke Kunshan University
DKU Faculty


Research: Luyao (Sunshine) Zhang is Assistant Professor of Economics and Senior Research Scientist at the Data Science Research Center at Duke Kunshan University (DKU). Her current research interests are at the interplay of computational and economic science around the application of groundbreaking technologies for social good, including artificial intelligence, blockchain and metaverse, and innovative computing. She has an abiding passion for interdisciplinary collaborations, especially for cutting-edge research of both profound insights and practical impacts, including computational economics and social science, crypto and token economics, behavioral and experimental economics, explainable and cooperative AI, and interdisciplinary big data. Her publications appear in economic and computational science journals and conference proceedings for general interest and beyond, including American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the World Economy, Nature Research Scientific Data, Springer Nature Social Indicators Research, Springer Nature Eastern Economic Journal, ACM CCS, AAAI/ACM AIES, ACM CSCW, IEEE S&P, Computing Conference, IEEE International Conference on Blockchain Proceedings, Remote Sensing, Journal of Digital Earth, Data and Information Management. She received Ph.D. in Economics at Ohio State University, supported by Presidential Fellowship and the National Science Foundation (NSF). She graduated from Peking University with a B.A. in Economics and a B.S. in Math and Applied Math. She holds certificates from the Blockchain Strategy program at Oxford University, the "Blockchain: Disruptive Technology" program from MIT professional education, and over 30 data science certificates. She is currently supported by the National Science Foundation in China (NSFC) for her research agenda entitled “Trust Mechanism Design on Blockchain: An Interdisciplinary Approach of Game Theory, Reinforcement Learning, and Human-AI Interactions.” She was awarded the 60 Pioneers in Blockchain Innovation by the National Collegiate Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Innovation Alliance in 2022. She also won the Kunshan Shortage Industrial Talent Program Award for her exceptional achievements in highly sought-after talents of scarcity. She won the Young Scientist Award for contribution and honorable achievement in innovative research at the 6th International Research Reward on Accounting and Financial Management by ScienceFather in 2023. 

Teaching: Luyao has taught economics courses and beyond for students with diverse backgrounds in the U.S., Europe, and China, proposing an Artificial Intelligence and Business Strategy initiative. She has won several teaching prizes for innovation in research-oriented and project-based education. She is passionate about promoting undergraduate research and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). The courses entitled “Intelligent Economics: An Explainable AI Approach,” “Computational Microeconomics,” and “Introduction to Machine Learning for Social Science” that she developed in this spirit have been listed in the undergraduate curriculum across disciplines. She leads an “Industry 4.0 Open Education Resource Publication Initiatives” supported by Duke Learning Innovation Center and DKU Center for Teaching and Learning under the Carrying the Innovation Forward program. She led the Duke CS+ project entitled “Decentralized Finance: Cryptocurrency and Blockchain on the Internet Computer” with professors in Computer Science and industry pioneers.  As an adjunct faculty member at New York University (NYU) Shanghai, she taught statistics courses in integrated marketing at the School of Professional Studies and core courses in economics, such as econometrics and game theory, in the summer program. 

Service: Luyao has dedicated herself to service with empathy, which she believes is one critical cornerstone of any civil society. She has served the academic community and beyond. At DKU, to advance research, she serves on the research policy committee; to care for students, she serves in the faculty adviser program for student care for both the Social Science Division and the Natural and Applied Sciences Division; and she also serves for the Student Affairs Review Board and is the advisor on the founding team of DKU Finance Club; to contribute to university-wide intellectual conversations, she serves as the Chair of the University Colloquium Committee. She also is the associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems. She is the Founding President of SciEcon CIC, a not-for-profit organization registered in the United Kingdom, aiming to cultivate integrated talents in research, innovation, and leadership for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research of profound insights and practical impacts, where she has jointly led open-source research and developer grant projects with blockchain pioneers in both academia and industry, supported by Ethereum Foundation, Dfinity Foundation, Primitive Lane, and so forth. She was the Founding President of Dance Illumination, a not-for-profit organization with 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt status in the United States to promote diverse dance histories, and the ambassador in Shanghai for Startup Genome. She was also selected to be on the inaugural executive committee for the Technical Committee in Computational Economics at the China Computer Federation (CCF TCCE) Led by Prof. Xiaotie Deng to pioneer a research agenda at the intersection of computer and economics science, cultivate integrated talents in computational economics, and make real-world impacts in joint efforts with industry partners and governments. She has been the program committee or reviewer for journals and conferences across disciplines, including Econometrica (ECMA), Review of Economic Studies (RES), Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (JEBO), Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) open access journals including Games, Electronics, and Applied Sciences, MIT Bitcoin Expo, Portuguese Financial Network(PFN) Conference, Academy of Management(AoM) Annual Meeting, Workshop on Fintech and Decentralized Finance (FiDeFix), Decision and Game Theory for Security (GameSec), ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), Crypto and Blockchain Economic Research (CBER) Forum Conference, AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society (AIES), International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED), ACM Conference On Computer-Supported Cooperative Work And Social Computing (CSCW), ChainScience, Cryptoeconomic System Blockchain Journal & Conference Series, Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) AI for Science Workshop  (AI4Science), AAAI-24 Workshop on Privacy-Preserving Artificial Intelligence (PPAI-24), Crypto Finance Conference St. Moritz Academic Research Track (CfC-SMART24), and so forth. She is also Electronic Market's guest editor for the Fintech and Decentralized Finance special issue. She serves on the Youth Editorial Board of Blockchain, a peer-reviewed open-access journal publishing original works, communications, reviews, perspectives, reports, and commentaries in all blockchain areas in basic research and application. She is also the academic editor for an open-source book project entitled “Blockchain–Pioneering the Web3 Infrastructure for an Intelligent Future,” appointed by IntechOpen, a leading global publisher of journals and books in science, technology, and medicine.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Assistant Professor of Economics at Duke Kunshan University · 2020 - Present DKU Faculty

Education, Training & Certifications

Ohio State University · 2018 Ph.D.
Ohio State University · 2013 M.A.
Peking University (China) · 2012 B.A.