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Sonya T. Smith (she/her)

Professor & Director, Atmospheric Sciences Program

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering, CEA
  • Graduate School


Dr. Smith obtained her Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from The University of Virginia (UVA) and was the first African-American woman to do so. She joined the Howard University faculty that same year and is the first female Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Smith has established an interdisciplinary theoretical and computational research laboratory entitled the Applied Fluids-Thermal Research Laboratory (@FTERLab).  Her expertise is in developing customized simulations for a variety of engineering applications. Current projects include thermal management of electronic packaging in fixed-wing, UAV and space vehicles; as well as modeling and simulation of biomechanical systems. She has received support for her research from NSF, NIH, NASA, DOD and industry.

Dr. Smith is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,  a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME),  and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).  Her memberships in other professional societies include, the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the National Technical Association (NTA) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).  She is also served President of Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society from June 2019-July 2020 and is a lifetime member. 

As an experienced scientist and engineer, Dr. Smith is committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. She leads Howard University's NSF ADVANCE-IT award (HU ADVANCE-IT). ADVANCE-IT aims to solve the institutional and national problem of Advancement and Leadership of Women in STEM. She is a long-time board member and former President of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). The WEPAN is a leading champion in North America for advancing women's inclusion in engineering. Dr. Smith's personal goal is to be a mentor and resource for all students and young faculty/professionals, but especially to those traditionally underrepresented in STEM.