2014 Tillman Scholar

Andrew Smith

Virginia Tech

“Guided by my sense of purpose and gratitude, I intend to translate my knowledge that benefits trauma survivors.”

On 9/11/2001, Andrew was in his third week of basic training. He had joined the military to see the world, to experience life outside of his small town. But for Andrew and for many others, the world spontaneously changed forever—he would deploy twice over the next few years in support of OIF. His time in the military was profound and life-changing, and he formed lifelong bonds with fellow soldiers. He also observed fellow soldiers struggling to cope with the consequences of military service and combat experiences, developing relationships that established his passion for improving the lives of military service members and trauma survivors.

Several weeks after his military service ended, Andrew returned stateside to begin what would become a 13-year educational path—an undergraduate degree from Penn State, a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Tech, and a clinical residency in the VA Salt Lake City Healthcare System in 2017. His training culminated in a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience and neuropsychology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

Throughout this journey, Andrew has continuously sought to understand the complexities of how humans cope with extreme stress. As a researcher, he has built a program of studies focused on factors that promote trauma adaptation in a variety of contexts, including combat, mass violence, natural disasters, incarceration, and brain injury. As a clinician, he continues developing his efficacy to heal struggling trauma survivors via delivery of evidence-based-treatments. As a teacher, he strives to translate science into useful and applied forms.

Guided by his sense of purpose and gratitude, Andrew maintains his dedication and urgency to translate his knowledge into useful interventions that benefit trauma survivors. In September of 2018, he began a tenure-track faculty position in the University of Utah School of Medicine. In addition to his continued pursuits in empirical research, Andrew directs the Occupational Trauma Program specializing in clinical care and investigation among firefighters, first responders, and law enforcement. He also maintains a position as a Staff Psychologist in behavioral medicine at the Salt Lake City VA.