Introduction and Current Research
I joined the faculty at UNL in 2013, shortly after receiving my Ph.D. from Duke University. My research interests include social networks, quantitative methods, drug use and health. I have done methodological work on network sampling and missing data, as well as more substantive work on network processes and health outcomes. My work has been published in the American Sociological Review, Sociological Methodology, Social Networks, Social Science & Medicine, as well as other venues. You can find detailed information on my publications (including links to the papers) on my website, as well as from my Google Scholars page. My website also includes information about the courses I have taught, including all of the materials from a recent seminar on network analysis.
My research explores methodological and substantive problems related to social networks, substance use and health. Methodologically, my work centers on a core problem in network studies: how can network structure be measured when there is incomplete information, either because there is missing data or because the data come from a sample. The larger agenda is to make it easier to specify and test theories based on a network view of the social world—where the complex interdependencies between actors are explicitly mapped, even with limited data. For example, I have previously worked on a project that uses sampled network data to make inference about infection spread. I am also currently working on a project that examines the effect of measurement error on network inference. Substantively, my work focuses on the effect of social networks on health-related outcomes, such as substance use and emotional well-being. For example, in one on-going project, I am studying the risk factors associated with rural drug use, looking at the social network dynamics and behavioral contexts that contribute to overdose risk and increased risk of addiction. In another project, we are examining the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on social relationships, showing how increases in conflict affected mental health. Both of these projects are collaborative work with Robin Gauthier.
I am always looking for students to act as collaborators on projects related to social networks, methods, substance use and health. Feel free to contact me about possible research opportunities.
I have taught a number of different courses at UNL, many of them core methods courses: Introduction to Social Research II (an introductory, undergraduate statistics course); Advanced Regression Analysis (a graduate level course covering categorical models); Social Networks: Theory, Methods and Applications (a graduate level course in networks). I have also taught History of Social Theory (a graduate theory course) and Social Inequality (an undergraduate course on inequality).
Smith, Jeffrey A., Jonathan H. Morgan and James Moody. 2021. "Network Sampling
Coverage III: Imputation of Missing Network Data under Different Network and Missing Data Conditions." Social Networks 68:148-78. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2021.05.002.
Markowski, Kelly L., Jeffrey A. Smith, G. Robin Gauthier and Sela R. Harcey. 2021. "Practical Problems and Positive Experiences with Ecological Momentary Assessment: Reflections from People Who Use Drugs." The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse:1-8. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2021.1910700.
Smith, Jeffrey A. Smith and G. Robin Gauthier 2020. “Estimating Contextual Effects from Ego Network Data”. Sociological Methodology 50(1):215-75 doi: 10.1177/0081175020922879
Gauthier, Gertrude R., Jeffrey A. Smith, Catherine García, Marc A. Garcia and Patricia A. Thomas. 2020. “Exacerbating Inequalities: Social Networks, Racial/Ethnic Disparities, and the Covid-19 Pandemic in the United States.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbaa117
Smith, Jeffrey A. and Jessica Burrow. 2018. “Using Ego Network Data to Inform Agent-
Based Models of Diffusion.” Sociological Methods & Research. doi:10.1177/0049124118769100
Recent Grant Activity
Rural Drug Addiction Center (Director: Kirk Dombrowski)
National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Grant no. 1P20GM130461-01
Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (P20)
Role: Early Career Project Leader
Project Title: Capturing Rural Injection Risk Networks from Continuous-time Interaction Data
I am currently Graduate Chair for the sociology department. Perspective students should feel free to contact me with any questions about the department or the application process. I am also currently serving as a member of the advisory board for an NIH funded project on teaching network science in middle school. For more information and opportunities to get involved, please see: http://worldsofconnections.com/.