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Skidmore College
Health and Human Physiological Sciences

Denise SmithDenise L. Smith

Tisch Distinguished Professor, Professor for Health and Human Physiological Sciences Department and Director First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory

Phone: 518-580-5389
Fax:  518-580-8356
Office:  Sports and Recreation Center # 241


  • Ph.D. University of Illinois, 1990
  • M.S. University of Illinois, 1985
  • M.S. University of Illinois, 1985

Areas of Specialization:

  • Exercise Physiology
  • Occupational Physiology
  • Heat Stress
  • Cardiovascular Health

Classes Taught:

  • HP 111 Introduction to Exercise Physiology
  • HP 126/127 Human Anatomy and Physiology I/II
  • HP 241 Exercise Testing and Prescription
  • HP 299 Internships
  • HP 311 Advanced Exercise Physiology
  • HP 355 Research Design
  • HP 371 Independent Study
  • HP 375 Senior Research

Books Published:

  • Exercise Physiology: for Health, Fitness, and Performance. Fifth edition. Benjamin Cummings, 2017.

  • Advanced Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology. Human Kinetics, 2011.

Current Research Interests:

Professor Smith's primary area of research is cardiovascular health, with a specific focus on the relationship between heat stress and cardiovascular function. A significant portion of her research focuses on the cardiovascular strain associated with firefighting activity. She has led several government-funded studies to investigate strategies to minimize the physiological strain associated with firefighting. Professor Smith has also conducted several laboratory studies designed to identify specific components of firefighting activity (work performed, heat stress, sympathetic nervous stimulation) that are responsible for specific physiological responses to the combined stress of firefighting. Professor Smith has coauthored several textbooks and has published over 60 scientific papers, primarily on firefighter cardiovascular health. She has been awarded more than 15 million dollars in research funding, with awards from FEMA-AFG, DHS S&T, NIOSH, and DoD.

Recent Publications:

Fent, K.W., McCormick, S., LaGuardia, M., Chen, I., Kerber, S., Smith, D.L., Horn, G., Meyer, A., Luellen, D. (2020). Flame retardants, dioxins, and furans in air and on firefighters’ protective ensembles during controlled residential firefighting. Environ Int. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.105756

Smith. D.L., Bode, E.D., Mathias, K.C. (2020). Weight change in firefighters and associated changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors over a five year period. Med Sci Sports Exerc. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002398

Horn, G.P., Kerber, S., Lattz, J, Kesler,R.M., Smith, D.L., Mayer, A., Bertke, S., Fent, K.W. (2020). Development of fireground exposure simulator (FES) prop for PPE testing evaluation. Fire Technology. DOI: 10.1007/s10694-020-00981-3

Smith. D.L., Graham, E., Stewart, D., Mathias, K.C. (2020). Cardiovascular disease risk factor changes over 5 years among male and female US firefighters­. JOEM. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001846

Soares, E., Smith, D.L., Porto, L. (2020). Worldwide prevalence of obesity among firefighters: a systematic review protocol. BJM. DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031282

 Smith, D.L., Horn, G.P., Fernhall, B., Kesler, R.M., Fent, K.W., Kerber, S., Rowland, T.W. (2019). Electrocardiographic responses following live-fire firefighting drills. J Occ & Env Med. 61(12):1030-1035. 

Wilkinson, A.F., Matias, A.A., Eddy, C.I.K., Soares, E.M.K., King, J.K., Smith, D.L. (2019). Physiologic strain of SCBA confidence course training compared to circuit training and live-fire training. Applied Ergonomics. DOI:

Haller, H.M. and Smith D.L. (2019). Examination of strenuous activity preceding cardiac death during firefighting duties. Safety. DOI: 10.3390/safety5030050

Fent, K., Toennis, C., Sammons, D., Robertson, S., Calafat, A., Pleil, J., Wallace, A.G., Kerber, S., Smith, D., Horn, G. (2019). Firefighters’ and instructors’ absorption of PAHs and benzene during training exercises. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.06.006

Smith, D.L., Friedman, N.M.G., Bloom, S.I., Armero, W.L., Pence, B.D., Cook, M.D., Fernhall, B., Horn, G.P., Woods, J. (2019). Firefighting Induces Acute Inflammatory Responses that are not Relieved by Asprin in Older Firefighters. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001626

Fent, K.W., Mayer, A., Bertke, S., Kerber, S., Smith, D., Horn, G.P. (2019). Understanding airborne

contaminants produced by different fuel packages during training fires. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2019.1617870

Kerber, S., Regan, J.W., Horn, G.P., Fent, K.W., Smith, D.L. (2019). Effect of firefighting intervention on occupant tenability during a residential fire. Fire Technology. DOI:

Porto, L.G.G., Schmidt, A.C.B., de Souza, J.M., Nogueira, R.M., Fontana, K.E., Molina, G.E., Korre, M., Smith, D.L., Junqueira, L.F., Kales, S.N. (2019). Firefighters’ basal cardiac autonomic function and its associations with cardiorespiratory fitness. Work. 62(3):485-495.

Lidoriki, I., Sotos-Prieto, M., Smith, D.L., Kales, S.N. (2019). Firefighting associated cancers: can healthier body weight and eating be potential countermeasures. Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001555

Horn, G.P., Stewart, J.W., Kesler, R.M., DeBloise, J.P., Kerber, S., Fent, K.W., Scott, W.S., Fernhall, B., Smith, D.L. (2019). Firefighter and fire instructor’s physiological response and safety in various training fire environments. Safety Science. 116:287-294.

Smith, D.L., Haller, J.M., Korre, M., Sampani, K., Grossi Porto, L.G., Fehling, P.C., Christophi, C.A., Kales, S.N.  (2019).  The relation of emergency duties to cardiac death among United States firefighters.  American Journal of Cardiology. 123(5):736-741.

Mayer, A.C., Fent, K.W., Bertke, S., Horn, G.P., Smith, D.L., Kerber, S., La Guardia, M.J.  (2019).  Firefighter hood contamination: efficiency of laundering to remove PAHs and FRs. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 16(2):129-140, DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2018.1540877

Smith, D.L., Haller, H.M., Korre, M., Fehling, P.C., Sampani, K., Porto, L., Christophi, C.A., Kales, S.N. (2018). Pathoanatomic findings associated with duty-related cardiac death in US firefighters: a case-control study. Journal of the American Heart Association. 7(18):e009446

Gainey, S.J., Horn, G.P., Towers, A.E., Oelschlager, M.L., Tir, V.L., Drnevich, J., Fent, K.W., Kerber, S., Smith, D.L., Freund, G.G. (2018). Exposure to a firefighting overhaul environment without respiratory protection increases immune dysregulation and lung disease risk. PLos One. 13(8):e0201830.

Horn, G.P., Kesler, R.M., Kerber, S., Fent, K.W., Schroeder, T.J., Scott, W.S., Fehling, P.C., Fernhall, B., Smith, D.L. (2018). Thermal response to firefighting activities in residential structure fires: impact of job assignment and suppression tactic. Ergonomics. 61(3):404-419.

Banerjee, R.K., Kalathil, R.T., Zachariah, S.A., Paul, A.K., Amit Bhattacharya, A., Horn, G.P., Smith, D.L.  (2018). Comparison between experimental and heart rate-derived core body temperatures using a three-dimensional whole body model.  Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications.  11(2):024502-024502-6.

Fent, K.W., Evans, D.E., Babik, K., Striley, C., Bertke, S., Kerber, S., Smith, D., Horn, G.P.  (2018).  Airborne contaminants during controlled residential fires.  Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 15(5):399-412. DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2018.1445260

Kesler, R.M., Ensari, I., Bollaert, R.E., Motl, R.W., Hsiao-Wecksler, E.T., Rosengren, K.S., Fernhall, B., Smith, D.L., Horn, G.P.  (2018).  Physiological response to firefighting activities of various work cycles using extended duration and prototype SCBA.  Ergonomics. 61(3):390-403.