Dr. Jay Smart, 2016 Jahnke-White Service Award Recipient

Written by Lindsey Donohue, CAS communications Intern

Dr. Jay Smart, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, was awarded the Jahnke-White Service Award, which recognizes exceptional service contributions by a faculty member to the Department of Psychology. The Jahnke-White service award is named after two former Department Chairs and the recipient is selected by faculty vote. Dr. Smart feels the “recognition that his colleagues really appreciate what he is doing is so rewarding.”

Jay Smart 2016

(Dr. Jay Smart, 2016 Janke-White Award Winner)

Dr. Smart’s contributions include having served as the chair of Miami’s Institutional Review Board, which reviews all proposals for research with human participants conducted by Miami University researchers to ensure their compliance with ethical standards and regulations.  Dr. Smart’s IRB service helped ensure the reviewers, who come from across the University and the local community, understood psychological research. One of Dr. Smart’s students, Victoria Diana, noted the impact of his service to the IRB to her experience as a student.  Diana noted she was “very honored to have worked with Dr. Smart, both in his advising role, as well as his leadership in the IRB when [submitting] my research proposal last spring. His commitment to fostering my well-rounded academic experience is much appreciated; he is one of many phenomenal educators in the department that are responsible for my continued involvement and success here at Miami. Dr. Smart is one of the kindest leaders I have ever had the pleasure of working with; he will go above and beyond for any student who needs his assistance.”

Dr. Smart also serves as the Chief Departmental Advisor where he serves as a resource for students to assist with special advising as well as transfer requests and modifications to their major. Students praise Dr. Smart for his detailed oriented approach that gives him an advantage with advising sessions and to ensure students graduate on time.  He assisted Psychology major Alyson Yawitz with her student abroad experience. Alyson believes Dr. Smart helped her by “sitting down with me and looking in depth at the course syllabi and how they could best align with the Psychology major. I never felt intimidated and he was very supportive of everything that I needed. Dr. Smart helped make the best out of my study abroad experience and has helped provide students with the tools to be successful within the major.”

Dr. Smart’s research examines perception-action coupling, in the tradition of James Gibson’s Ecological approach to psychology. Dr. Smart’s research involves examining the consequences of interrupting the perception-action cycle by disrupting an individual’s ability to regulate their own behavior. He says he is most “interested in how functional relationships between perception and action are regained (adaption) and the cost of not being able to do so (motion sickness).” This research bridges his interests in motor control, perception, and Human Factors.

Dr. Smart teaches a variety of courses in Perception, Cognition, Research Methods, Human Factors, the Psychology of Design as well as Creativity, Innovation and Design Thinking. His teaching philosophy is composed of four functions: providing information, generating new knowledge, providing guidance, and supporting student growth. He believes in refining students’ ability to “evaluate this knowledge and seek further knowledge, illuminating the relevance of the course material for everyday life, and encouraging students to seek opportunities to further work in the field.” A typical classroom setting for Dr. Smart is based on questions and students seeking their own answers. This helps empower his students and allows them to develop skills to generate thought.

Two of Dr. Smart’s core values are the importance of research and mentoring, and he encourages students to do both. He embodies these values through his service to both the research mission of the University, through his service to the IRB, and to its teaching mission, in his role as Chief Departmental Advisor. He is committed to students’ success through research, community involvement and by his enthusiastic demeanor, and is excited about continuing to work in these areas.