From the garage to grad studies

Grad profile: Jock Smith, Faculty of Graduate Studies

- May 23, 2013

Jock Smith at work in the lab. (Danny Abriel photo)
Jock Smith at work in the lab. (Danny Abriel photo)

Every spring and fall, we profile just a few of our amazing graduates in our convocation handout. We proudly feature these stories here on Dal News. Congrats to all our new graduates!

From gas tanks to gas masks, Jock Smith has travelled a long road to completing his PhD in physics.

Starting out as an automotive mechanic, Smith completed a motor vehicle repair program and gained interprovincial journeyman status as an automotive technician before he made the switch to physics and enrolled at Dalhousie.

“It was a good time in my life to try something different,” he explains.

Smith was able to relate many aspects of automotive mechanics to physics when he changed career paths. “I think that the strong work ethic and systematic approach to problem solving that I developed working 
in the trade helped.”

Originally from Harvey Station, N.B., Smith is now a three-time Dal alumnus, having completed his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees here. During his decade at Dalhousie, Smith has developed two patents for materials used to remove toxins from contaminated air. In collaboration with other members of the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, he tested the effects of various chemicals used to impregnate carbon, creating a carbon “sponge” that can naturally absorb harmful gases. His important graduate research can be applied to improving gas masks used by emergency personnel.

Smith is graduating with numerous publications and awards under his belt; he is also leaving Dal with a ring around his finger. In the second year of his undergraduate degree, he met his future wife in Professor David Tindall’s office, where the two classmates had stopped to ask 
questions about an assignment. Married while both he and his wife, Catherine, were students in the physics doctorate program, Smith is now 
a proud father to their son, Oren.

As he pursues industry jobs in materials science or research and development, Smith has not forgotten his time in the garage.

“I really enjoyed working on cars and still do,” he says. “Ultimately I would love to work in an area where I could combine skills.”


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