Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith is a current doctoral student in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior.

How did you become interested in community health and health behavior as your field of study?

I began working in data collection at Roswell Park in 2007 in the Department of Health Behavior. Much of the research I was involved with initially was related to tobacco use behaviors, examined through an epidemiologic and public health lens. I learned through my experience there that I was really interested in public health as a field, and eventually decided that I wanted to study tobacco and marijuana use behaviors.  Given the expertise of the faculty at CHHB in tobacco and substance use, coupled with my interest in studying behavioral outcomes, selecting this program seemed like the optimal choice.

Why did you choose UB?

As a Buffalo native, I pursued my undergraduate degrees in psychology and sociology at UB. I came to learn about the School of Public Health and Health Professions, and the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior through my contacts at Roswell. Until then, I was unaware that such a well-recognized, distinguished, accredited program in the topic I was interested in was located right in my own backyard.  I chose UB because it is a well-recognized, cost-effective, accredited program, and nearly all of the graduates I know have gone on to have very successful careers in prestigious research institutions and government agencies.

Tell us more about your experience in the community health and health behavior PhD program.

Most of the research I work on is related to the study of tobacco use behaviors.  I also work on my own project that extend that knowledge into emerging topics on marijuana use.  I’ve also worked on studies that examine factors that influence youth uptake of tobacco, studies that examine tobacco advertising effects on subsequent use, and I am now working more closely on e-cigarette research in the toxicology realm.  The coursework I have taken through CHHB has further reinforced my understanding of this topic area and has provided me with an enhanced knowledge base with which I can further contribute to my chosen field of study.

What do you enjoy the most about the community health and health behavior PhD program?

One of the key aspects of the CHHB program that attracted me was the focus on studying behavioral outcomes, since this is my primary area of interest. In traditional epidemiology programs, this isn’t always the case. The coursework is also enjoyable and engaging.  Additionally, I was really taken aback by the expertise of the department faculty. In CHHB, students are very fortunate to have access to such gifted teachers. Despite busy schedules and multiple commitments (which are common among most faculty at major Universities), the CHHB faculty really take time to mentor students and provide the necessary guidance and feedback to ensure students’ success along the way. Also, they are all really nice people, which I think is helpful to know.

How does receiving a degree from UB SPHHP set you apart?

Given my connections to other graduates of UB SPHHP and my own experience, I think that a degree from UB SPHHP prepares you to be competitively placed in an increasingly difficult job market.  The curriculum and research opportunities that are available at UB are unique, giving students a leg-up when entering the job market.