Phil Smith grew up in a health-conscious household with parents who taught the benefits of a nutritious diet and regular exercise. An athlete, Smith saw the advantages of good conditioning in his performance on the field. Off the field, he also gained an awareness that making poor health behavior choices contributed to suffering at the individual and community levels.
After completing his undergraduate study, he knew he wanted a
career in promoting health and applied to both medical school and a
master’s program in UB’s School of Public Health and
Health Professions. He was accepted in both programs and, after
much reflection, determined that he could make the greatest impact
with a career in public health.
“I was really interested in the research opportunities and
other resources available to me here at UB and tried to take
advantage of as many of them as possible,” said Smith. He
earned a master’s in epidemiology in 2009 and decided to
further his education with a doctoral degree in community health
and health behavior at UB.
"This program was exceptional," he said. "The quality of
mentorship, opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research and the
emphasis on career preparedness were outstanding."
Through an NIH-funded grant and in collaboration with UB’s Research Institute on Addictions, Smith’s research examined the role substance abuse plays in relationships.
A 2013 graduate, Smith is now a postdoctoral fellow with the
Yale School of Medicine's School of Public Health and Department of
Psychiatry, a position funded by the National Institute of Mental
Health. "I’ll be conducting research with Dr. Sherry
McKee and Dr. Carolyn Mazure, looking at gender differences in
tobacco use and co-morbidity between tobacco use, other substance
use and mental illness," he said.