Chris Smith, Ph.D., was born and raised in Greenwood, SC, He became interested in neuroscience while completing his undergraduate degree at Furman University. He attended UNC Chapel Hill where he earned his PhD in Neurobiology in 2014. As a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt for over 2 years, he is passionate not only about research but mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, serving the University as a member of the Postdoctoral Association executive board, and volunteering time judging science fairs at the high school and college level.
His research interests involve understanding individual differences in human reward, motivation, and choice behavior. Using behavioral genetic and neuroimaging (fMRI, PET) techniques, he hopes to better understand how value and choice are encoded in the brain and the role of neural modulators (particularly dopamine) in shaping these processes. Understanding choice behavior and how it can go awry has implications for why individuals make irrational choices in their daily lives and the poor choices seen in psychopathologies like drug addiction.