Sam Smith

Sam Smith BA '21



Degree and Class Year

BA ’21


Sewanee, Tennessee

Current City

Fort Collins, Colorado




College Outdoors, 2019 International Affairs Symposium Steering Committee Member

Overseas study

East Africa

Continuing Studies

Colorado State University, Ecology Program in the Department of Biology

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Quirky, Comfortable, Challenging

Life After L&C

August 2022 Update

What have you been doing since graduation?

Since graduating from Lewis & Clark, I briefly worked at as a mechanic in a bicycle shop in Bozeman, Montana, before heading to graduate school at Colorado State University. At CSU I use quantitative and computational methods to study disease dynamics in the ecology program.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for grad school?

Lewis & Clark, especially the biology and international affairs departments, taught me how to think independently, ask questions, and problem solve, which have been critical skills in graduate school.

What would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

Lewis & Clark taught me to challenge the status quo by asking whether there is a more equitable, just, or simply better way to conduct myself and my science and participate in my community.

How do you stay connected to Lewis & Clark as an alum?

I am happy to continue receiving alumni newsletters, and follow Lewis & Clark news on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Have you been to Alumni Weekend or other programming, like Homecoming, etc.? What did you enjoy about the event(s)?

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to attend any post-graduation programming at LC.

Life at L&C

Sam Smith BA '21 What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

Cellular and Molecular Biology with Sharon Torigoe. Prior to this class I always thought that I was more of an ecology or environmental science kind of guy, but this course has totally changed my perspective! Professor Torigoe uses a team-based learning/teaching style where she lectures very little and replaces it with lots of discussion and problem solving. Each class period we use concepts from our reading and very brief lectures to solve various biological questions. It’s also exciting to apply all the chemistry I’ve taken!

Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

Biology Professors Ken Clifton and Margaret Metz have shaped my time at Lewis & Clark. Professor Clifton taught my first biology course here. He and I also led a College Outdoors freshwater ecology trip to Florida, and I am now going to study abroad with him in Tanzania! Professor Metz is my advisor, taught my Plant Biology course, and I am now working in her community ecology lab studying the mechanisms that drive forest diversity. Both Professor Clifton and Metz have had a really influential role in shaping how I see and interpret the natural world.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I knew I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college, but I didn’t know where. A combination of all of the exciting academic options and the West Coast drew me to Lewis & Clark in the end. College Outdoors also played a huge role in my decision to attend Lewis & Clark, as I knew I wanted an outlet to get outside and CO is one of the best programs in the country! After visiting campus and experiencing Portland I knew that I wanted to attend Lewis & Clark. Being so close to the city while having Oregon’s coast, mountains, and desert in my backyard was really important to me!

If you have studied or will study overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience so far?

The East Africa (Tanzania) program was an obvious choice for me as it integrated my biology interests into a study abroad experience. I had also worked on a grassland ecology project the summer prior to applying for the program and I knew that we would spend a significant amount of time on safari in the East African Savannah, so it seemed like an excellent opportunity to build off of that experience.

Studying abroad through L&C is especially amazing because on many programs you get to interact with a faculty member in a really meaningful way and build a lasting connection. My experience in Tanzania really contributed to developing my plan for what I want to do after graduation and begin setting goals for my future, which is an especially unique opportunity.

Describe your involvement with College Outdoors. How does your College Outdoors experience complement your academic experience?

Most important, College Outdoors gives me an outlet, as someone without a car, to get off campus and go outside during the weekend. I find that College Outdoors trips refresh and prepare me for the following week and this “reset” ultimately plays a significant role in my academic success. Working with and leading trips for College Outdoors is an excellent complement to the classroom because it has offered me professional experience and ways to develop as a leader and outdoors person that I might not have been granted otherwise. Leading trips has challenged my shy disposition and made me a more confident and better communicator, which I know will be invaluable as I enter the working world. Trips with College Outdoors are also an excellent way to continue my biology education as they allow me to continue interacting with and experiencing different ecosystems and environments.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Come visit and ask questions! I know this seems obvious, but seeing the campus and interacting with everyone here will give you the best perspective as to what life at Lewis & Clark is like! (Note from Admission: Visiting in person is wonderful, but during the COVID-19 crisis, you’ll need to experience our campus virtually.)