April Smith

April Smith

Assistant Professor

116 Psychology Building
Oxford, OH 45056
513-529-3751
aprilsmith@MiamiOH.edu
REDS Lab Home Page
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. April Smith received her B.A. in Psychology and Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin. She then taught English in Japan for two years as part of the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program. Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. from Florida State University’s Clinical Psychology Program, and completed her clinical residency at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Smith is currently an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Miami University and the director of the Research on Eating Disorders and Suicidality (REDS) Laboratory.

Teaching Interests

I find that encouraging students to act like scientists by conducting their own experiments and thinking scientifically stimulates learning and cements understanding. It is my hope that my students will retain this scientific way of thinking and evaluating information even after they have graduated. I emphasize practical, everyday applications of the material I cover, and I encourage my students to use psychological research to better understand themselves and the world around them.

Courses Taught

I teach abnormal psychology (undergraduate), seminars at the graduate and undergraduate level on eating disorders, lifespan psychopathology (graduate), intervention (graduate), practicum (graduate).

Research Interests

The ultimate goal of my research program is to reduce suicide-related morbidity and mortality, particularly among individuals with eating disorders. Much of my early work tested the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS; Joiner, 2005) among people with eating disorders (e.g., Smith et al., 2017). Taken together, my work suggests that the IPTS provides a useful, though perhaps incomplete, explanation of the elevated suicide risk among eating disorder samples. I plan to continue testing the theory while also considering other biological, sociocultural, and psychological factors that may contribute to suicide risk among individuals with eating disorders.

My most recent work, which includes a meta-analysis (Smith et al., in press; Smith et al., in press), examines whether eating disorders are longitudinal predictors of suicidality. This work highlights the crucial need for methodologically rigorous research to more conclusively determine the nature of the association between eating disorders and suicidality, as well as the timing of the mortality risk. I am excited to pursue this line of research over the coming years.

My work also investigates factors that may make individuals susceptible to both disordered eating and suicidal behavior—such as interoceptive deficits. Interoception refers to being aware of emotional and physical sensations in the body (e.g., hunger, cold, heart rate, anxiety). People with interoceptive deficits are literally “out of touch” with their bodies. This disconnect from the body may facilitate self-injury. Our research supports this supposition, and suggests that interoceptive deficits not only differentiate those who think about suicide from those who engage in suicidal behavior, but may also provide information about who is at imminent risk for suicidal behavior (Forest et al., 2015; Smith et al., 2017).

Finally, I am very interested in translating my research to intervention platforms that are inexpensive and widely accessible. To that end I am working to develop accessible (i.e., computer and smart-phone based) interventions for disordered eating.

Professional Recognition

Dr. Smith was named a 2016 Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. Additionally, in 2017 Dr. Smith received the Miami University Junior Faculty Scholar Award. Dr. Smith's research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Department of Defense.

Selected Publications

* indicates Miami graduate student coauthor

** indicates Miami undergraduate coauthor

  • Smith, A. R., Forrest, L. N., Velkoff, E. A., Ribeiro, J. D., & Franklin, J. (in press). Implicit attitudes toward eating stimuli differentiate eating disorder and non-eating disorder groups and predict eating disorder behaviors. International Journal of Eating Disorders.
  • Smith, A. R., Velkoff, E. A., Ribeiro, J. D., & Franklin, J. (in press). Are eating disorders and related symptoms risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors? A meta-analysis. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior.
  • Smith, A. R., Zuromski, K., & Dodd, D. R. (2018). Eating disorders and suicidality: What we know, what we don’t know, and suggestions for future research. Current Opinion in Psychology, 22, 63-67.
  • Smith, A. R., Forrest, L. N., Velkoff, E. A. (in press). Out of touch: Interoceptive deficits are elevated in suicide attempters with eating disorders. Eating Disorders: Journal of Treatment and Prevention.
  • Smith, A. R., Dodd, D. R., *Forrest, L. N., Witte, T. W., Bodell, L., Ribeiro, J. D., Goodwin, N., Siegfried, N., Bartlett, M. (2016). Does the Interpersonal–Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS) provide a useful framework for understanding suicide risk among eating disorder patients? A test of the validity of the IPTS. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 49, 1082-1086.
  • Forrest, L. N., Smith, A. R., & White, R., & Joiner, T. E. (2015). (Dis)connected: An examination of interoception in individuals with suicidality. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 124, 754-763.

Grants

  • Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC) Department of Defense, Award # W81XWH-16-2-0004 Title: Interoceptive deficits and suicidality Role: Principal Investigator Period: November 2017—April 2018
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) National Research Service Award, 1 F31 MH083382 Title: Anorexia Nervosa and Suicidal Behaviors Period: June 2009—July 2012