Celebrating Staff: Meet Tobie Smith

Get to know Tobie Smith, who takes on the role of Academic Department Manager of the Department of Biological Sciences.

Andrew Lyle - 4 October 2022

Get to know Tobie Smith, Academic Department Manager of the Department of Biological Sciences. Photo supplied.

The Faculty of Science’s biology programs are world-leading and were recently ranked second in Canada. As one of the largest departments at the University of Alberta, maintaining this calibre of research and teaching excellence takes no small amount of support expertise. 

Tobie Smith joined the Department of Biological Sciences this summer in the role of Academic Department Manager (ADM), bringing to the role her extensive experiences as Faculty of Science facilities manager from 2016 to 2020 and former ADM of Humanities in the Faculty of Arts.

Meet Tobie and hear from her on the importance of connections to her work — and how the first week in her new role brought a new perspective on fruit flies.

How long have you worked at the Faculty of Science?

I joined the Faculty of Science as Facilities Manager in December 2016. I took a secondment in the Fall of 2020 to January 2022 to be part of SET. I served as ADM for Humanities in the Faculty of Arts until August 2022 when I returned to Science in my new role as ADM for the Department of Biological Sciences.

What is a typical day on campus like for you?

A typical day involves lots of listening and asking questions so I can better understand what’s happening for our faculty, staff and students. The majority of my days are really spent making connections. Either I’m connecting with others or I’m doing the connecting and putting people in touch with others. I also try to get out of the office and go on field trips to see different aspects of the department as part of my way of getting to know it better. 

What's the most common question people ask you about your job?

My friends always want to know if working in the Faculty of Science is like the movie Night at the Museum. They like to imagine that the dinosaurs and other specimens all come to life at night without any of us being the wiser. Since I’ve never been here in the middle of the night, I have no way of knowing if it’s true or not so I just let them believe what they want. 

What is your favourite memory from work?

I joined the University in 2009 and worked for Facilities and Operations. As part of my role, I had the opportunity to really see the behind the scenes of campus infrastructure. One of the highlights is the tour I took of the Utilities heating and cooling plants. It was like walking through the heart of what keeps campus — and other buildings surrounding the university — running. 

Favourite thing about working at the Faculty of Science?

You never know who you’re going to meet or what you’re going to learn. My first week in this new role, I learned how we feed fruit flies as part of the support to teaching and research. That experience has made me look at those little creatures a bit differently. 

Curious to learn more? Find more information on teaching and learning in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science