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Ryan Smith earns PhD

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Christopher Smith

On May 17, 2013, Ryan Christopher Smith of Hardyville graduated from Virginia Tech with a PhD in industrial/organizational psychology. During his tenure at Virginia Tech, Dr. Smith also received bachelor’s degrees in three different subjects—psychology, sociology, and political science—and a master of science degree in industrial/organizational psychology.

Dr. Smith’s dissertation was titled “A Multi-Year Field Investigation of Alcohol Consumption among University Students: Innovations in Assessing and Intervening to Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm.” This was a four-year field study of intervention techniques to promote safer alcohol consumption at university and college campuses. The study collected over 12,000 breath-alcohol tests from across over 100 nights of data collection. His dissertation is currently being considered for Virginia Tech’s Outstanding Dissertation Award.

During his time at Virginia Tech, Dr. Smith has been recognized for his commitment to research, academics, teaching, and community service. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed professional presentations and publications on alcohol consumption, traffic safety, race, education, bullying, and public policy. He has received multiple applied research awards from the Virginia Psychological Association and was the recipient of 2011 William Preston Society and Southern Conference of Graduate Schools Award for the best thesis in Social Science, Business, and Education. His research has been featured in a variety of news outlets, including USA Today, Edmunds, and Men’s Health.

For his dedication to teaching, Dr. Smith was named as the Virginia Tech Psychology Department’s 2013 Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher. His teaching excellence resulted in his selection into the Global Perspectives Program. This allowed him to take a several weeks trip to experience more than a dozen colleges and universities in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. The experience culminated with several presentations and formal discussions at the Swiss Embassy in D.C.

In addition to his academic and professional accomplishments, Dr. Smith has always strived to give back to his community. His more than 1,000 hours of service has resulted in receiving the Virginia Tech Graduate School’s highly competitive community service excellence merit certificate, Gwen Parker Gwen service commendation, and citizen scholar recognition. As one example, Dr. Smith makes several trips to Northern Virginia each year to serve as an expert panelist for the Perils of College Drinking Forum to educate parents and high school students about the dangers of binge drinking in college.

He recently received Virginia Tech’s highest distinction when he was named this year’s Graduate Man of the Year. He also was named Virginia Tech’s Undergraduate Man of the Year in 2008. This made him the first individual in Virginia Tech history to win both of the university’s highest recognitions.

Out of all of his professional and personal accomplishments, Dr. Smith is most proud to have served as the undergraduate student representative to Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors in the wake of the April 16 tragedy.

Dr. Smith recently accepted a faculty position as a research associate within the Center for Advanced Automotive Research at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. He works on the development, implementation, and assessment of next generation traffic safety systems. He also currently serves as a reviewer for The Journal of Safety Research and The American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Smith is a graduate of Middlesex High School and the son of Willard and Suzanne Smith of Hardyville.

posted 08.21.2013

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