Academics Todd Smith - Biochemistry
Contact Todd Smith; 802-251-7676
"Some background in chemistry and biochemistry is useful to all of us," says Todd Smith. "For example current debates about genetic engineering and genetically-modified foods, and the arguments for and against them, can be quite technical. The same is true for concerns about pesticides and their effects on human health. If students have exposure to ideas in chemistry they are better prepared to evaluate the information they’re bombarded with. We get to see on a daily basis why it’s relevant." Todd teaches courses in chemistry, biochemistry, human physiology, and molecular biology, while working with students in tutorials on topics ranging from avian physiology to Alzheimer’s disease and neuronal function.
Todd likes "giving students as many ways to explore as they can,” with texts, current research articles, labs and fieldwork. "I want to show students that people are using these techniques in their cutting-edge research." In addition to encouraging understanding of the social relevance of chemistry and biochemistry, Todd helps his students see the relevance of sharing findings: "The goal of performing research is to relate it to other people. Being able to effectively communicate what you’ve found is integral to doing science." Todd enjoys students who are excited by the idea of a self-designed study involving lab work or field work, eager to work in an interdisciplinary fashion and willing to keep an open mind about where their studies may take them.
Student Plans and Collaborations
- Laboratory research on the effect of an endocrine-disrupting chemical, bisphenol-A, on gene expression in chick testes. Evelyn Crawford '10, biochemistry/avian biology.
- A study of white-nose syndrome and population decline in bats, including laboratory research exploring the cause of the syndrome. Morgan Ingalls '10, biochemistry/molecular biology.
- A paper examining post-petroleum energy sources, focusing on low-input, high-diversity grasslands for ethanol production. Sam Lowenthal '09, environmental studies.
As a doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island, Todd studied heat-shock proteins, which provide cells temporary protection from environmental shocks. Todd’s current research focuses on anti-freeze proteins in fish, and how fish control the timing and production of those proteins. Todd has been an ad hoc reviewer for the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. In 2009, Todd taught a week-long biochemistry workshop at Hue University, Vietnam, regarding applications of biochemistry to organic pollutants in wastewater. He also led a Hill Center for World Studies "Empires & Science" workshop at the Watson Institute, Brown University, in 2008.
"RNA-DNA ratio in scales from juvenile cod (Gadus morhau) provides a non-lethal measure of feeding condition," (with L. Buckley). Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 132 (2003):9-17.
B.S., Middlebury College, 1986; M.S., University of Maine, 1991; Ph.D., University of Rhode Island, 1997; Marlboro College 1999 –