Naila A. Smith

Naila A. Smith

  • Assistant Professor

Office Location

Bavaro Hall
417 Emmet St S
PO Box 400267
Charlottesville VA 22903

Office Hours

Wednesdays 2-3 pm or by appointment


Naila A. Smith's research examines the role of sociocultural resources, assets, and risks in the academic and socio-emotional development of marginalized groups from childhood to emerging adulthood (ages 18-25). Smith has three main lines of research. In the first line of research, she uses a strengths-based approach to examine how marginalized youth engage in meaning-making about their identity and the role of identity in shaping other aspects of their development. In the second line of work, she explores how social relationships with parents, teachers, and peers contribute to the positive development of marginalized youth. She is especially interested in how the dynamic interplay of these relationships can promote or inhibit development. Finally, in the third line of her research, Smith investigates the role of risk factors such as discrimination and its subtler form, microaggressions, in the development of marginalized groups in the United States. In her work, she explores these developmental processes primarily among immigrant and ethnically and racially minoritized groups (e.g., Black American, Latinx) across multiple contexts (e.g., home, school, online). In her research, she employs quantitative methods, including advanced longitudinal methods to understand long-term changes in academic and socioemotional experiences and the consequences of risks and assets on development. She also uses person-centered methods such as latent profile analyses to understand how a combination of factors, working together simultaneously, might explain youth development more richly than considering each factor separately. Finally, she is trained in qualitative methodology and uses this in her work to gain an in-depth, nuanced understanding of the experiences of marginalized youth.


Ph.D., Fordham University, 2016
M.A., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2010
B.Sc. (First Class Honors), University of the West Indies, 2005

Curriculum Vitae

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