Kevin Smith
Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Professorship Political Science

Dr. Smith studies the biology and psychology of individual-level differences in political attitudes and behavior. In other words, he is interested in why some people are passionate about politics while others couldn’t care less, where conservatives and liberals get their political beliefs from, why those beliefs are so resistant to change, and how those beliefs drive choices and actions. He also retains a strong interest in public policy and state politics, which were his primary research interests during the first part of his academic career.

When outside the academic salt mines he is a fanatical Dallas Cowboys fan, a devotee of good ales and a voracious reader.

Research Areas

  • Public policy
  • Public Administration
  • American Politics
  • Biology and Politics

Current Research

  • Application of biological and evolutionary modes to political attitudes and behaviors
  • Employment of psychophysiology, behavioral genetics, neuro-imaging and experimental economics


  • Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Chair 2018
  • College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research and Creative Achievement Award 2010


  • Authored or co-authored ten books
  • Authored or co-authored more than 50 research articles that have appeared political science, psychology, biology and general science journals.

Career Highlights

  • Co-Director of the UNL Political Physiology Lab
  • Director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Systems Biology of Social Behavior (SB2) initiative
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1994