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Jennifer Schmidt, photographed for NPR, 13 November 2019, in Washington DC.

Jennifer Schmidt

Jennifer Schmidt is a senior producer for Hidden Brain. She is responsible for crafting the complex stories that are told on the show. She researches, writes, gathers field tape, and develops story structures. Some highlights of her work on Hidden Brain include episodes about the causes of the #MeToo movement, how diversity drives creativity, and the complex psychology of addiction.

Since joining NPR in January 2014, Schmidt has also worked as an editor on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She has put together pieces for various news desks, including a story about survivor goats from the California wildfires for NPR's health blog Shots and a piece on a new trend in C-sections in which women can watch their babies being born which aired on Morning Edition.

The recipient of numerous journalism awards, Schmidt has been awarded a PRNDI for feature reporting, a National Headliners award for breaking news, a silver CINDY, an EMMA for editing, and various other awards from the RTNDA, the Associated Press, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Schmidt's reporting has taken her across both the country and the world, from KPLU in Seattle and WBUR in Boston to freelancing in South Africa and Mexico. After living abroad for almost a decade, Schmidt now lives on a small farm near the Chesapeake Bay with a menagerie of animals including a one-eyed cat from South Africa, chickens, horses, two dogs from Mexico City, and goats.

Schmidt graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

  • In the past few weeks, the nation has been gripped by protests against police brutality toward black and brown Americans. The enormous number of demonstrators may be new, but the biases they're protesting are not. In 2017, we looked at research on an alleged form of bias in the justice system. This week, we revisit that story, and explore how public perceptions of rap music may have played a role in the prosecution of a man named Olutosin Oduwole.
  • President Trump said this week that a few "bad apples" were to blame for police killings of black people. But research suggests that something more complicated is at play — a force that affects everyone in the culture, not just police officers. In this bonus episode, we revisit our 2017 look at implicit bias and how a culture of racism can infect us all.
  • We all know people who prefer to follow the rules, and others who prefer to flout them. Psychologist Michele Gelfand defines these two ways of being as "tight" and "loose." She says the tight/loose framework can help us to better understand individuals, businesses, and even nations. This week, we look at the core traits of tight and loose worldviews, and how they may shape our lives — from interactions with our spouses to global efforts to fight the coronavirus.
  • A virus is more than a biological organism. It's a social organism. Historian Nancy Bristow shares the lessons about human behavior that we can take away from a century-old pandemic.
  • It sounds like a movie plot: police discover the body of a young man who's been murdered. The body tests positive for a deadly infectious disease. Authorities trace the killing to a gang. They race to find the gang members, who may also be incubating the virus. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit our 2016 story about disease, panic, and how a public health team used psychology to confront an epidemic.
  • What would drive someone to take another person's life? When researchers at the University of Chicago asked that question, the answer was a laundry list of slights: a stolen jacket, or a carelessly lobbed insult. It made them wonder whether crime rates could be driven down by teaching young men to pause, take a deep breath, and think before they act. In this 2017 episode, we go inside a program that teaches Chicago teens to do just that. We also explore what research has found about whether this approach actually works.
  • Social media sites offer quick and easy ways to share ideas, crack jokes, find old friends. But the things we post don't go away. We explore how one teenager's social media posts destroyed an opportunity he'd worked for all his life.
  • Our modern world is saturated with awards. From elementary school classrooms to Hollywood to the hallways of academia, there's no shortage of prizes — and people who covet them. Yet we rarely stop to ask, do they work? We pose that question to economist Bruno Frey, who argues that awards can have a powerful, positive effect on our behavior — but only if they're designed well.
  • What happens when we connect with people whose view of the world is very different from our own? In this month's Radio Replay, we bring you stories about the relationship between diversity, conflict, and creativity. This episode features reporting from our July 2018 podcast, "The Edge Effect," and from one of our 2016 shows, "Tribes and Traitors."
  • The CDC estimated that 72,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017. There are many reasons why the opioid crisis is so hard to confront. One of them is social stigma.