Interdisciplinary work is at the core of Susan Smith’s research and educational interests. Her undergraduate work in Biology serves as a basis for her research in Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Race and Biomedical Ethics. Her master’s work at the University of Guelph was completed under the direction of Michael Ruse and focused on the nature of human action with respect to free will and determinism. At the University at Buffalo, working with Jorge J.E. Garcia, she explored the metaphysical basis of race with a focus on its intersection with healthcare.
Dr. Smith’s current work explores the ethical issues related to genetic testing and, specifically, informed consent. She is part of an interdisciplinary study of the ethics of genetic testing and student-athletes in the NCAA.
Before coming to RPI, Dr. Smith taught at Mercyhurst University, Canisius College, and the University at Buffalo. She has taught courses in Biomedical Ethics, Research Ethics, Philosophy of Human Nature and Science, Technology and Human Values. Teaching has been a passion for her since she received her undergraduate degree in Education from the University of Windsor. Her main objective as a Philosophy instructor is to develop the critical thinking skills of her students. Dr. Smith encourages students to critically examine their own beliefs and to attempt to create rational defenses for those beliefs. Along with the development of critical thinking skills, she focuses upon the development of writing skills and learning the philosophical content of the particular area of philosophy relevant to a course. A tertiary goal is to make students comfortable within the field of philosophy so that they can competently read and analyze literature within the discipline and see its connection to their daily lives.
Smith was the Director of the Social Science Interdisciplinary Degree Programs at the University at Buffalo. She currently serves on the advisory board of the University at Buffalo Genomics, Education and the Microbiome (GEM) Community of Excellence.
PhD, Philosophy, University at Buffalo
MA, Philosophy, University at Guelph
Hons B.Sc, Biology and Philosophy, McMaster University
B.Ed., University of Windsor
Bioethics, Research Ethics, Philosophy of Race
2022 “Living a Philosophical Life” – selected by graduating senior class as one of four professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that had the most positive impact on them to deliver a lecture as part of the 2022 Rensselaer Last Lecture series. The Last Lecture Series was inspired by Dr. Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon University faculty who, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer delivered a last lecture, titled, “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”. Link to lecture: https://mediasite.mms.rpi.edu/Mediasite5/Channel/lastlecture/watch/4e772c791919433496cd611611541c011d
2021 “What “Works” for Rensselaer Students” – part of the 2020 Teaching Colloquium Series Talking About Teaching, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
2019 “The Relevance of Gracia’s Genetic Common Bundle View of Race for Contemporary Medical Research and Practice” Invited Paper - A Collection Individuals: The Philosophical Legacy of Jorge J.E. Gracia, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
2017 Playing God: A Conversation With Rensselaer Faculty About the Science, Application and Ethics of CRISPR/CAS 9 Gene Editing, Dr. Lois S. Peters Series: “The Ethics of Managing Emerging Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
2016 Research Ethics, CSTEP Program, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY (2013 & 2014)
2016 Research Ethics, LSAMP Program, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY (2013 & 2014)
2015 “Sickle cell screening of NCAA athletes: Legal obligations fulfilled, moral obligations lacking”, UB Scholars on the Road, Macaulay Honors College, New York, NY
2014 “Screening for Sickle Cell Trait in NCAA Athletes”, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA
2013 Medical Ethics: An Overview, Pre-Health Symposium University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
2013 Research Ethics, Chemical Engineering Graduate Program, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
2012 “Can Kitcher Have His Pluralism and Realism Too?”, Philo-Stem 3, The Midwest Workshop in Philosophy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Indiana-Purdue University, Ft. Wayne, IN
2012 The Use of Race in Clinical Research and Practice, UB Clinical/Research Ethics Symposium, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
2008 “Race and Medicine”, California Roundtable on Race, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
2008 “Biological Ethnicity”, Student Society of Philosophers, University of Texas, Austin, TX
2007 “Gender, Philosophy and Leadership”, Graduate Program in Organizational Leadership, Mercyhurst College, Erie, PA
2022 NPR – Academic Minute: Informed Consent of University Student Athletes (https://academicminute.org/2022/07/susan-smith-rensselaer-polytechnic-institute-informed-consent-of-university-student-athletes/)
2020 Newspoint 360 - Interview: Data Privacy and User Agreements (https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=TeUtE0L7xWI&feature=youtu.be)
2019 Podcast – Why Not Change The World? “Technology and Upgrading Humanity”
2021 For Every Day Matters – The RPI Research & Discover Blog “Creating an Inclusive Campus Community”
2020 For American Journal of Bioethics – Bioethics.net “Priority Access to COVID-19 Vaccine and American Healthcare”
2019 For Every Day Matters – The RPI Research & Discovery Blog “Do You Know Where Your Personal Information Is?”
2022 Chapter in The Philosophical Legacy of Jorge J.E. Gracia, “Using Race in Medical Research and Practice”, Rowman & Littlefield.
2018 (with Jorge J.E. Gracia) chapter in Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race, “Analytic Metaphysics: Race and Racial Identity”, eds, P. Taylor, L. Martin-Alcoff and L. Anderson, Routledge.
2015 Dinner at Orazio’s: Davide Triggle, the model of a mentor, Biochemical Pharmacology, 98:2 (November 2015): 308-312
2014 Sickle Cell Screening of College Athletes: Legal Obligations Fulfilled, Moral Obligations Lacking, Oregon Law Review, 92:4 (2014): 1127-1156. Co-authored with Miriam Shuchman
2013 The Conceptual Space of the Race Debate , Theoria, 137:60, 4 (December 2013): 68-89.
The following is a selection of recent publications in Scopus. Susan Smith has 1 indexed publications in the subjects of and Arts and Humanities.