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Rachel A. Smith

Rachel A. Smith

Associate Head and Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences

216 Sparks Building
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-4201

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. B.A., Boston University, 1994
  2. B.S., Boston University, 1994
  3. M.S., University of Arizona, 1999
  4. Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2003


Rachel Smith is a quantitative, communication scientist who researches the social of social influence. Her theoretical approach emphasizes the socially situated and embodied nature of communication and wellbeing. She also uses quantitative methods that embrace interdependence (such as network analysis). She is particularly curious about messages that spread through social systems, such as the diffusion of health innovations and the creation of social stigmas. Her research considers three questions: How does social context shape interpersonal influence? Why do some social facts or collective norms emerge from interactions among community members? Why do some messages about health threats create stigmas about those with the health condition? Professor Smith teaches courses on health communication (CAS 453), social influence (CAS 302), health campaigns (CAS 567), basic quantitative methods (CAS 561), and advanced methods for dyadic and network data (CAS 563 “Pairs and pairings”). Her research has been funded by NIH, the Gates Foundation, CDC, USAID, and private foundations.