Brian Hughes

Brian Hughes

Research Asst Professor
Department of Justice,
Law & Criminology


Brian Hughes is a Research Assistant Professor in the program of Jus¬tice, Law, and Criminology. He is also the co-founder and Associate Director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL), where he develops studies and interventions to reduce the risk of radicalization to extremism. His scholarly research explores the impact of communication technology on political and religious extremism, terrorism and fringe culture. This work seeks to identify the affective and material commonalities between extremists of differing ideologies, cultures, times, and places.

His writing has appeared in the CTC Sentinel at West Point, the International Journal of Communication, CNN, and the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right.


PhD, American University, School of Communication.

Partnerships & Affiliations

Center for Analysis of the Radical Right Senior Fellow

International Communication Association Member

National Communication Association Member

Jihadi Networks of Culture and Communication research group at CARGC, Annenberg, University of Pennsylvania

Association of Internet Researchers Member

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

“Development of a Codebook of Online Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric to Manage COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(24). July 2021.

Selected Publications

“Uniting for Total Collapse: The January 6 Boost to Accelerationism,” (primary author with Cynthia Miller-Idriss), CTC Sentinel, May 2021.

Selected Publications

“Debate: Donald Trump and Fascism Studies,” Fascism 10(1). June 2021

Selected Publications

“Theologians, Poets, and Lone Wolves: Modeling Medium-Specific Processes of Radicalization,” International Journal of Communication 14(2020). March, 2020.

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

Political and religious terrorism, extremism, radicalization, far-right extremism

Additional Information

Brian Hughes is the co-founder and Associate Director of American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) and a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Public Affairs. His work focuses on developing evidence-based interventions to radicalization, extremism, polarization, and disinformation. He is frequently interviewed by local, national and international media outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera English, etc.