Yorie Smart

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Unsung Heroes

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PEOPLE: THE HEART OF THE CVM

Yorie Smart

As a kid growing up in Japan, Yorie Smart was fascinated by American culture. She watched American movies and listened to American music. But she never dreamed that someday she would be living in America.

In high school, however, Smart got an opportunity to spend her senior year on an international student exchange—and ended up in St. Paul, Minnesota. A few years later, she returned to the Twin Cities, enrolled at the University of Minnesota, and earned a degree in psychology. She eventually got a job at a Minneapolis foundation, married a man from Boston, settled down in the Twin Cities, and had two children.

Today, Smart works as a grants administrator at the College of Veterinary Medicine, managing training grants for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. In addition to coordinating students and fellows’ training activities, such as seminars, retreats, and courses, Smart is charged with tracking the researchers for more than 15 years, as they develop into seasoned scientists and professors, using research to transform the world.

Yorie Smart gives an orientation to Mariah Wu, a neuroscience graduate student joining the University of Minnesota’s PharmacoNeuroImmunology program, an intensive laboratory-based research experience.Yorie Smart gives an orientation to Mariah Wu, a neuroscience graduate student joining the University of Minnesota’s PharmacoNeuroImmunology program, an intensive laboratory-based research experience.

“I’ve been at the U for 17 years,” Smart says, “so I know everybody who was on these training grants—who they are, where they are, what they accomplished.”

Smart herself once considered going into biomedical research, but ultimately she decided she would make a better administrator than researcher.

“I think if I got into grad school, I wouldn’t have been a good researcher. I don’t have the patience,” she says.

Nonetheless, Smart seems to have the patience required to manage grants and other tasks. In her off hours, she not only coaches her daughter’s basketball team, she also uses her experience of playing classical piano for 14 years to teach students how to play keyboard. She currently has seven students, including her own two teenage children.

“Regardless of age, whether they’re one of my piano students or a graduate student, I want them to succeed. That’s my passion,” Smart says. “I want them to be good players or good researchers in the future.”