How Dr. Jaime Smith took UB's small-town feel and applied it nationally to support the advancement of science
As a Legislative Analyst and Scientific Consultant at the National Institute of Health (NIH), Dr. Jaime Smith is eager to help future generations of scientists – and determined to affect positive change in Washington, D.C. With a graduate degree in biomedical sciences and a doctorate in biochemistry, she has all the skills, tools and education she needs to make it happen.
Initially, Dr. Smith was undecided about her educational future after completing her undergraduate degree. “I did not know that I wanted to go on and get my doctorate in biochemistry,” she says. “I wanted a graduate program with options.” Dr. Smith looked at four or five schools before she finally chose UB. The interdisciplinary program was a great fit because it gave her the option to try out a few different career paths before settling on the one that made the most sense. “You can rotate through up to four or five different departments,” she explains. “So, if you decide right away you want to get a degree in biochemistry, you can get started on it. But at UB, you also have the opportunity to change and try something else.”
After achieving her doctorate in biochemistry, Dr. Smith set her sights on a successful career, interviewing across the country and finally landing at the NIH because, as she says, “it is the world’s best research institution.” She completed her post-doctorate work at the NIH, and then transitioned into science and legislative policy. “I had been dabbling in policy as a hobby for a few years,” says Dr. Smith. “I think I developed an interest in policy being in the nation’s capital, especially in the political area of science. Funds are being cut at a time when science is at its best.”
In her current role, Dr. Smith works as a liaison between Congress and the NIH, preparing her director for meetings with Senators and Representatives. “UB has a very small community feel,” explains Dr. Smith. “You can bring that to a larger city like the nation’s capital and it allows you to connect with people on a personal level. And you need that when you are trying to connect with members of Congress.”