Rebecca Smith, DVM, MS, PhD

AVMA Members Working to Advance Animal and Human Health Through Research

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

Educational Background

I got my DVM from Cornell in 2005, after a BA in biology from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2001. I went on for an MS in biosecurity and risk analysis from Kansas State in 2007, then came back to Cornell for a PhD in epidemiology in 2011.  I spent 3 years as a post-doc at Cornell, and started my current position, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, in August 2014.

Do you have any pets?

We have 2 cats, 1-year-old littermates named Katarina and Orville.

What is the focus of your research?

My research focuses on improving disease control, using two major tools. First, I work on data analysis to understand the risk factors and outcomes associated with different disease processes. Second, I use a variety of modeling techniques to understand the 'big picture' of disease dynamics and to predict how well control programs will work.

What is the scientific and clinical significance of your research?

One particular focus of my research is the practicality and economic significance of disease control strategies in livestock herds. I also do some research aimed at patient-centered treatment of human disease. The real significance is connecting the basic science with clinical and production outcomes so that we can make informed decisions about disease control.

What do you find most enjoyable about research?

I enjoy asking questions and figuring out how I would go about answering them.

What advice do you have for veterinarians considering a career in biomedical research?

I recommend exploring different fields within biomedical research — it's a broad area, with a lot of variability. I didn't even know epidemiology existed when I started vet school! I also recommend looking practically at where you want to be and what you want to be doing in 5-10 years, then talking to someone in a similar position about how to get there.

See how other AVMA members are advancing animal and human health