Brian McKernan

105 Hinds Hall
Research Assistant Professor
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’s research interests include the design and study of serious games and other innovative software applications to strengthen human reasoning and address other pressing social issues. Brian has served as key personnel on two research contracts with IARPA focused on developing applications to improve human reasoning and decision-making. Brian has published several peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, and edited chapters on topics pertaining to technology, culture, games, and reasoning, including research articles in Computers in Human Behavior, Technology, Knowledge, & Learning, Games and Culture, and the American Journal of Cultural Sociology. Brian is also a faculty fellow with Yale University’s Center for Cultural Sociology.


Brian McKernan’s early work focused on exploring video games’ social significance and civic potential as well as the social factors that shape video games’ reception in a variety of different settings. In this early work, Brian was particularly interested in the capacity of video games to raise awareness and stimulate public discussion of serious social issues and the aesthetic and social factors that influence how different social groups respond to video games’ sociopolitical themes.

In more recent years, Brian has expanded his research to focus on designing and studying innovative software applications to strengthen human reasoning and address other pressing social issues. Brian was part of the CYCLES project, a federally-funded research program to design and test an educational game that can effectively teach players about cognitive biases and how to mitigate them. Brian is also a part of the TRACE team, an interdisciplinary project to design and test a software application that helps users engage in better reasoning and decision-making. Brian is particularly interested in designing and studying how innovative forms of crowdsourcing and smart nudges may promote better reasoning. Much of Brian’s current work focuses on exploring the factors that contribute to successful human + AI collaborations.