Biographical Sketch: Joel M. Smith, PhD


Joel was born in Raleigh, NC in November of 1987. His childhood was enriched with the sciences, as his father remains a practicing pediatrician and his mother a secondary school chemistry teacher. After becoming interested in chemistry and music in high school, he pursued undergraduate studies at Furman University in Greenville, SC where he was a double major, completing a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Music in 2010. While at Furman, he cultivated his musical interests in the piano studio of Prof. David Gross while also conducting research in organic synthesis under the direction of Prof. Brian Goess. Additionally, in 2009, Joel spent one summer abroad at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), performing research in the lab of Prof. Fernando Coelho as an NSF REU student.


Following his undergraduate degree, he moved to sunny Southern California to pursue graduate studies under the advisory of Prof. Neil Garg. As an NSF GRFP fellow, his research concerned the total synthesis of complex alkaloid natural products, mainly those of the akuammiline alkaloid class. After the completion of his graduate degree in 2015, Joel moved to the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA to perform postdoctoral research with Prof. Phil Baran as an Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow. Since joining the Baran lab, he has been interested in research concerning terpenoid natural product synthesis and reaction discovery in the realm of transition metal catalysis.


Following his postdoctoral work, in the fall of 2018 Joel will begin as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University. His lab will be primarily invested in advancing the art and science of synthetic organic chemistry with research foci in catalysis, reaction invention, and the multistep synthesis of therapeutically important molecules.