Smith, the program director of two competitively funded National Institutes of Health training grants, was among 489 distinguished fellows in this year’s cohort. Smith also leads Virginia Tech’s Comparative Genomics Lab, which focuses on activities involving both aspects of comparative genomics: building genomic information on little-understood avian species using information from more widely studied organisms and using information on model species to understand a biological phenomenon in humans.
“Being named an AAAS fellow is a humbling validation of my lifetime work. I am very grateful to Virginia Tech and to so many colleagues, administrators, and scholars who have helped move these ideas along to impact our research enterprise,” Smith said. “Virginia Tech provided the support for me to accomplish a lot of the goals I set out to pursue when I arrived here, especially in the face of challenges that life can pose.”
Since coming to Virginia Tech in 2000, Smith set out to create an innovative environment for conducting research. He pioneered research training grants from NIH at Virginia Tech, which has resulted in significant NIH funding and turned Virginia Tech into one of the leading land-grant institutions that receives NIH funding for training graduate students.
Two of Smith’s most successful programs are the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) and its sister program Post-Baccalaureate Research and Education Program (PREP). IMSD and PREP have brought a considerable number of graduate students to the institution, many of whom are minorities or from historically underrepresented groups, and bring in $800,000 annually.