George Mason's Board of Visitors

Robert F. Smith

Robert F. Smith

Robert Smith, currently professor and Interim Chair of Psychology, has been at George Mason University since earning his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976. He previously chaired the department from 1995-2006, facilitating strong faculty hires and significant growth in the department’s grant portfolio, now nearing $6,000,000 per year. He also directs the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience graduate programs within Psychology at Mason, and currently serves as chair of the Neurosciences Advisory Council, the governing group for interdisciplinary neurosciences at Mason.

Mr. Smith's research interests center on neural and behavioral effects of drugs during development; he has over 50 publications and more than 100 conference presentations. His lab has was first to demonstrate that consumption of nicotine during adolescence resulted in widespread and significant reorganization of brain, with consequent persisting effects on neural functioning and behavior.

Recent publications include demonstrations that effects of adolescent nicotine on behavior and neuroanatomy persist into adulthood [e.g, Brain Res 1151, 211-218, 2007; Neurotoxicol Teratol 2007, 29(1), 74-80], that persisting neuroanatomical effects of adolescent nicotine are qualitatively different from adolescent to adult [e.g., Synapse, 62 (1), 31-9, Synapse 64, 754-64], that adolescents find nicotine more reinforcing that adults in a conditioned place preference [CPP] paradigm, [Neurotoxicol Teratol, 2007, 29(1), 74-80], and that single-trial CPP for nicotine has a dose-response curve dramatically altered by prior stress [Psychopharmacol, 2012, 219(1) 73-82].

Mr. Smith teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, including introductory psychology, physiological psychology, neurochemistry, developmental psychobiology, and biological bases of substance abuse. His mentoring of individual student research, including 14 senior theses, 32 MA theses, and 14 dissertations, earned him the 1991 Raymond Fowler Award from the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students; he has also received a University Teaching Award and Advising Award.