On June 3 during a virtual livestream ceremony, the UB Alumni Association recognized 18 outstanding alumni for their achievements and for bringing distinction to UB. The School of Public Health and Health Professions boasted two awardees who have made names for themselves in their chosen fields.
Philip Smith, PhD ’13, MS ’11, MS ’09, received the George W. Thorn Award, given to UB alumni under 40 who have made outstanding contributions to their career fields or academic areas. Smith is a tenure-track assistant professor in Miami University’s Department of Kinesiology and Health. After completing his doctorate at UB, Smith became a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University’s School of Public Health, where he conducted research about gender differences in tobacco use and comorbidity between substance use and mental illness. As associate research scientist at Yale’s School of Medicine, he examined women’s health and addictive behaviors. He was then hired as an assistant professor for CUNY School of Medicine’s Department of Community Health and Social Medicine.
Smith’s efforts have garnered him various research awards, more than 50 authored or co-authored publications, four professional memberships and five awards for his work— including an award for excellence in teaching. He also serves as an associate editor on the Editorial Board for “Nicotine and Tobacco Research.” His current research addresses health inequities resulting from tobacco use and the health risks of vaping and youth vaping. He also has overseen research grant budgets totaling over $1 million, and his research publications have been cited more than 2,000 times.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith has received recognition for developing innovative public health strategies for keeping the Miami University community safe. He has served as a COVID-19 resource locally and internationally through numerous media outlets.
Brian O’Connor, MS ‘91, BS ‘87, received SPHHP’s Distinguished Alumni Award, given in recognition of exceptional career accomplishments, community or university service, and research and scholarly activity. O’Connor is UB’s assistant vice president for data analytics. He has led the university in translating large volumes of raw data into actionable intelligence, transforming data into information and effectively communicating that intelligence to help drive better decision-making. His work has supported strategic and continuous growth across the university. O’Connor also has gained national recognition of his professional achievements and expertise, receiving numerous requests to present and consult across the country. As an exercise science alumnus, he maintains a vital connection to SPHHP, whose faculty and staff value his collegiality and support as they strive to improve health.