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Brian McKernan

Brian McKernan is a research assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University at Albany, SUNY. Brian is also a faculty fellow with Yale University’s Center for Cultural Sociology.

Broadly construed, Brian’s research program is devoted to theorizing, empirically studying, designing, and experimentally testing new and innovative approaches to tackling many of the serious challenges we face today. Some of his earliest and current research focuses on exploring how digital games may facilitate critical awareness and discussion of serious sociopolitical issues. To do so, Brian relies on key principles from recent work in cultural sociology, communication, and game studies to study how a variety of aesthetic and social factors may shape when and how different video game publics use games to discuss broader sociopolitical issues.

Brian’s research interests on digital games’ social significance led to a position as the postdoctoral associate for the CYCLES project from 2013 to 2015. CYCLES was a federally funded research program to design an educational video game that can teach players about cognitive biases and reduce the likelihood that they will commit these biases in the future. Brian is currently part of a $11.5 million project called Trackable Reasoning and Analysis for Collaboration and Evaluation (TRACE) project. Funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Program Activity (IARPA), the TRACE project aims to experiment with nudges, crowdsourcing, and other features to design and test an application that can help users engage in better analysis and decision making.

Brian has published several peer-reviewed journal articles and edited chapters, including research articles in American Journal of Cultural SociologyGames and CultureSociology Compass, Technology, Knowledge, & Learning, and Computers in Human Behavior. Prior to joining the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, Brian was an assistant professor of sociology at The Sage Colleges. Brian has also taught courses at New York University, Mount Holyoke College, and SUNY Albany.