Met a Graduate Student

Ten Minutes with Kristin K. Smith
Ph.D. Student, Earth Sciences

Photo of KristinKristin Smith wanted to attend graduate school to further develop her research skills and build expertise in rural development. She chose MSU’s Ph.D. program in earth sciences so she could become part of Dr. Julia Haggerty's Resources and Communities Research Group. Kristin studies how communities in northeastern Montana and northwestern North Dakota have responded to impacts from energy development and how municipal decision-making impacts long-term community and economic resilience. 

Despite the demands of her research, Kristin has found time to engage with several groups across campus including the University Graduate Council. She believes strongly that volunteering helps build a thriving MSU community and encourages other graduate students to become involved.


Getting to Know Kristin

What inspired you to serve on University Graduate Council (UGC)? I wanted to learn more about MSU’s operations and decision-making processes. After I graduate, I want to work in higher education. Prior to serving on UGC, I did not have a good understanding of the administrative side of being a faculty member. UGC helped to deepen my knowledge of how a research university operates, from the day-to-day operations to more long-term strategic planning.

Why should other graduate students become involved with UGC? Serving on UGC is both a professional development opportunity for students and a way to make your opinions heard on campus. As students, we often hear about decisions from the administration, but we may or may not understand why they were made.  Serving on UGC is a way to understand the context, thought process, and official procedures that go into decisions. Serving on the UGC allows you to voice student concerns while also empowering you to serve as an important conduit between UGC and the graduate student body thus increasing transparency.

What is your advice to future graduate students? Be an active member of our MSU community. Volunteer. Serve on committees. Organize a ski day for your department. It’s easy to overlook the networking and professional development opportunities that arise outside of your lab or research site, so seek them out. My graduate experience has been deeply enriched by my participation in groups like the Earth Sciences Student Colloquium, the Graduate Women in Sciences & Engineering Network, and UGC.