This week we would like to introduce you to the “Father” of the HABIT Program, Dr. Glenn Smith. He has retired from Mayo Clinic, but continues to work in perhaps the even more demanding job as Chair of the Psychology Program at the University of Florida. Here’s Miranda’s interview with Dr. Smith:
Miranda Morris: How are you involved with the HABIT Program?
Dr. Glenn Smith: As the most senior member of the team, my colleagues often defer to me as the leader or founder of the HABIT program. In truth, this program has evolved because of the commitment of numerous bright and dedicated people, not the least of whom are Dr. Melanie Chandler, you Miranda Morris, and others at Mayo Florida and Dr. Dona Locke and all of her great team at Mayo Arizona. Having left Mayo in Minnesota in order to become the Chair of the University of Florida’s Clinical Psychology program I now get to introduce a whole new generation of future neuropsychologists to this great program.
MM: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
GS: That is too long ago to remember! I do recall knowing what I didn’t want to be. My father was a painting contractor and as a tween and teen I would work for him in the summers. It was hot, messy, hard work that he did day-in for years. He knew he could keep me motivated for college and graduate school by showing me that I didn’t want that work life.
MM: What is your favorite thing about the HABIT Program?
GS: Every new session rekindles my admiration and inspiration by watching people facing Alzheimer’s and related conditions heroically. It is amazing to watch them accept the challenge to do everything they can to live their best lives in spite of those diagnoses.
MM: What’s your favorite way to de-stress?
GS: Sometimes exercise, sometimes Sudoku, sometimes hanging out with my big dog, nightly spending time with the family.
MM: How did you get into studying memory?
GS: In high school I was asked to be peer counselor. That is when I knew I wanted to be psychologist. In college I took a course on aging and that is when I decided to become a neuropsychologist working with older adults. On fellowship is when I began to form ideas about how to bring rehabilitation models to MCI.
MM: Some of the healthy habits that we talk about in the program include eating well, emotional self-care and getting quality sleep. With such a busy work life and a family, how do you make sure to practice the habits of wellness?
GS: Candidly. it is an on-going effort to practice what we preach. I am a good sleeper (and expert power nap taker) so that’s not an issue. Fortunately, my spouse is great about eating right, without her I would not do so well in that category.
MM: What do you usually use the “Notes” section of your calendar for?
GS: I just now opened to my most recent entry and found I had written down a couple of ideas for new research projects.
MM: How long have you been a part of HABIT?
GS: Since before it started.
MM: What is a typical day like for you ?
GS: These days I am an administrator, which means I spend 15% of my day signing bureaucratic documents, 20% of my day answering emails, 50% of my day in meetings and 15% of my day doing things that are interesting, useful and/or fun.
Dr. Smith’s graduate student lab on a night out at a recent conference (January 2020).