About Me

I grew up in Texas, Kansas, New York and Maryland, traveling on a circuit of renaissance faires with my family. I attended Tufts University for undergrad, majoring in political science, psychology, and German studies. In 2012 I began pursuing my PhD in political science at the University of Minnesota, drawn by their strong program in political psychology and the collegiality of their graduate students and faculty. I received my doctorate in June 2018 after defending my dissertation on how threatening rhetoric affects public opinion and participation behavior. In August 2018 I joined the faculty at the US Naval Academy, where I am an assistant professor of Political Science. I teach primarily American Government and Political Psychology, in addition to advising students and serving as a department resource for American politics and survey research.

The University of Minnesota and the USNA have given me many opportunities to develop my research and teaching. Political science researchers often find conflicting results when they assume that all people will react similarly in similar situations. My research focuses on using theories of human development and cognition to reconcile these contradictions. My teaching draws on this by understanding that different students have different learning needs, and that multiple ways of interacting with material give students the best chance to understand and apply it.

I have published in several political science journals, and my research has been covered by the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage. But my first citation was from an interview in Well Met, an academic work on renaissance faires and counter-culture by Dr. Rachel Lee Rubin. In my spare time, I fence sabre competitively and referee fencing at regional and national events. If you googled Brianna Smith and are wondering if I am the same Brianna Smith – if it’s a story about political science or fencing, the answer is probably yes. Otherwise there are hundreds of Brianna Smiths in the United States, so the answer is probably no.