Ian Smith, BS ’20

Ian Smith headshot

Before he took an introductory psychology course at ONU, Ian Smith thought that clinical psychology was the only career option in the field. The course opened his eyes to the field’s broad possibilities.


“I realized that an entire domain of psychology existed that was dedicated to unearthing new information and answering questions about human behavior,” he says. “And as the class continued, I found I was spending more and more time thinking about questions and how they could be answered.”


Today, Smith is actively working to answer his questions. A Ph.D. student in neuroscience at the University of Delaware, he is researching fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), a class of prevalent developmental disorders that can result from a developing fetus receiving alcohol during pregnancy. FASDs can cause deficits in language, memory and attention. “Using animal models, I study how brain circuits and structures are changed by alcohol exposure, as well as potential interventions that can reduce these negative outcomes,” he says. 


Smith credits ONU for his current career trajectory. Through his involvement in music ensembles, research labs and a number of student organizations at ONU, he became well-rounded and learned time management. “I valued my time at a school where I was able to take on research responsibilities that would have otherwise been taken by graduate students at a larger university,” he said. “I’m also thankful to have been taught by outstanding faculty who I still keep in touch with today.”


Psychology, says Smith, is a varied and versatile field and he’s loving every minute of grad school. “Between teaching, mentoring and all the many different steps in the research process, I feel like my job never gets boring,” he says. “There’s always more to discuss and discover.”