Professor, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, Penn State, State College, Pa.
Rachel Smith is a quantitative communication scientist who researches social influence. She advances theories that explain why certain persuasive messages delivered by specific types of influential people embedded in particular social structures are better able to change others' beliefs and behaviors, and ultimately change a community's beliefs and behaviors via diffusion. She also uses quantitative methods that embrace interdependence, such as network analysis, and explores how theory and method can best be used to design effective health campaigns that advance theory and improve well-being. She is captivated by mathematical modeling. Dr. Smith teaches undergraduate courses on persuasion, communication theory, health communication, and intercultural communication, and graduate seminars in quantitative research methods, social influence, health campaigns, and advanced methods for dyadic and network data. Her research has been funded by NIH, the Gates Foundation, CDC, USAID, and private foundations.