Director, National Institute for Risk & Resilience
Hank Jenkins-Smith earned his PhD in political science and public policy from the University of Rochester (1985). He has been employed as a policy analyst in the DOE Office of Policy Analysis (1982-83), and previously served on the faculty of Southern Methodist University, the University of New Mexico, and Texas A&M University. He is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor in the Department of Political Science, and serves as co-Director (with Dr. Silva) of the National Institute for Risk and Resilience. He is also the Director of the Center for Energy, Security and Society, and co-Director of the Center for Risk and Crisis Management.
Professor Jenkins-Smith has published books, articles and reports on public policy processes, risk perception, national security, and energy and environmental policy. He has served on National Research Council Committees focused on policies to transport spent nuclear fuel and disposal of chemical weapons, and he currently serves as an elected member on the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement and the American Political Science Association. In 2012, he gave several presentations to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to assist in the Commission's deliberations on public acceptance of new initiatives in nuclear facility siting.
Dr. Jenkins-Smith's current research focuses on theories of the public policy process, with particular emphasis on the management (and mis-management) of controversial technical issues involving high-risk perceptions on the part of the public. He applies a variant of Cultural Theory (as advanced by anthropologist Mary Douglas and political scientist Aaron Wildavsky) to understand variations in public understanding and response to a range of societal risks, including climate change, nuclear technologies, natural disasters, radioactive materials, vaccines, and others. As part of this work he has fielded a series of national surveys since 1993 focusing on public understanding and preferences regarding nuclear security, accompanied by a more recent series (starting in 2006) focusing on energy, environmental issues, and nuclear materials management.
In his spare time, Professor Jenkins-Smith engages in personal experiments in risk perception and management via skiing, scuba diving and motorcycling.