Get to Know

Get to Know Becky Smith

Dr. Rebecca Smith

Dr. Becky Smith is an associate professor who began working at the college in 2014.

When did you begin working at the College of Veterinary Medicine?
I joined the college in 2014, as an assistant professor.

Describe your role at the college.
I’m primarily a research faculty member – I focus on research involving disease and health at the population level, which lets me work with a lot of amazing collaborators on a whole range of diseases. Right now, a lot of my work is on vector-borne diseases, like West Nile Virus and tick-borne disease, and I have a growing research program on antimicrobial resistance. I also do a bit of teaching, both to the graduate students (principles of epidemiology) and the veterinary students (statistics and diagnostic test evaluation).

These days, I also spend a lot of time outside the college. I’m a Health Innovations Professor at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine and a core member of the Infection Genomics for One Health theme at the Institute for Genomic Biology. I also have affiliations with the Center for Social and Behavioral Sciences, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and cross-disciplinary graduate programs like the Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, the Informatics Program, and Women and Gender in Global Perspectives. These affiliations let me reach out to collaborators in a wide range of fields, which just makes the science better.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I love getting to create tools that get used in the field, so one of my favorite parts of my job is talking to people who are on the ground in disease control about what they need and how I can help them get it.

Complete this sentence: My most memorable day at work was…
…giving a live interview for CBS Chicago where I had to explain the importance of washing bondage gear – we were in the midst of the mpox outbreak, and trying to spread the word about safe practices in the LGBT community. Not something my DVM prepared me for!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I spend a lot of time with my kids, but apart from that I enjoy a lot of domestic hobbies – cooking, knitting and crocheting, gardening (I’m converting my lawn to native prairie).

What is something your co-workers may be surprised to know about you?
I used to be in a band! Before moving to Illinois, my husband and I had a band with some of his colleagues, and we recorded (but never released) an album. I was the lead singer and lyricist.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
My family is trying to visit every single national park – we’ve been to seven so far, and try to visit at least one a year.

Do you have a favorite restaurant or place in the Champaign/Urbana area?
I love Flying Machine Avionics – best coffee in town, and the owner and baristas are just great people.

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Exercise! First thing I do every day is at least 30 minutes of something (yoga, weight lifting, cardio).

Do you have any pets?
We have two black cats, Orville and Katarina, but they’re not mine – my daughter adopted them on her second birthday. If I Zoom with you from my home office, you will meet them – they love to be on camera.