Scholar of the Month | Kent State University

Scholar of the Month

Scholar Shares Her Expertise on Infectious Diseases

Scholar of the Month
Tara C. Smith
Associate Professor of Epidemiology 
College of Public Health
2013-present

Tara C. Smith is an associate professor of epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology in the College of Public Health. Her research focuses on emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases (infections which are transferred from animals to humans), Staphylococcus aureus, bacterial ecology and antibiotic resistance.

Smith was the first to identify livestock-associated strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the United States, and she has pioneered the investigation of this organism, receiving more than $3 million in funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to carry out these studies. 

Smith has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and she has presented her research at numerous national and international platforms, including talks on Capitol Hill on the topic of agriculture and antibiotic resistance. She also has written three books on infectious disease topics, and she currently writes about infectious disease for Slate.com.

Smith’s work has been profiled in many publications, including Science, Nature and The New York Times. She recently received international attention for her views about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. Smith was featured in a two-part CNN.com article on “Why You Should Vaccinate Your Children” and “How to Persuade Anti-Vaxxers to Vaccinate.” In 2014, she was interviewed extensively by the media for her expertise on Ebola virus disease. 

Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Toledo. She completed postdoctoral training in molecular epidemiology at the University of Michigan. Smith was tenured at the University of Iowa prior to moving to Kent State in 2013.

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About Kent State’s Scholar of the Month

Kent State’s Scholar of the Month recognizes faculty researchers and scholars whose recent work has had an important impact on their professional fields and has brought exposure to the university. Each month, a different college will have the opportunity to nominate a researcher/scholar for this recognition. There is also a month when a faculty member from the Regional Campuses will be featured.

The selection process is in the hands of the dean and his or her colleagues and faculty. Hence, this is recognition by the person’s college colleagues that is then taken up by the university. The deans communicate the person’s name to the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs for recognition as Scholar of the Month.