Susan L. Smith

Susan L. Smith
Lecturer, HASS Inquiry Faculty Coordinator
Cognitive Science

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 

Focus Area

Bioethics, Research Ethics, Philosophy of Race

Selected Scholarly Works

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.