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Skidmore College
First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory



Dr smith

Denise L. Smith, Ph.D., FACSM

Director of the First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory, professor of health and human physiological sciences

Denise Smith has researched the cardiovascular strain of firefighting for nearly 20 years, is highly active in the Fire Service and has collaborated with many national organizations (including the NVFC, IAFF, IAFC and NFPA) and has conducted numerous line-of-duty fatality investigations due to cardiac issues for NIOSH. She has co-authored two textbooks and published more than 75 scientific papers.

dr pat fehling

Patricia C. Fehling, Ph.D., FACSM

Professor of health and Human physiological sciences

Patricia Fehling has successfully led firefighter related studies at Skidmore College, including an AFG-funded study in 2007 that dealt with monitoring firefighters during duty days (24 hours) to quantify cardiovascular strain while performing a wide range of firefighting activities. Fehling is an exercise physiologist and currently serves as the chair of the Health and Exercise Sciences Department.

Brittany Hollerbach

Brittany Hollerbach, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory

Brittany recently received her Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Kansas State University. She has collaborated on several nationally funded behavioral health studies with firefighters. She is a former firefighter, which sparked her passion for firefighter health research. Currently, Brittany is examining large occupational studies with a focus on cardiopulmonary exercise testing as a reliable means of assessing fitness and cardiovascular health in the fire service.


Kevin Mathias, Ph.D.

Project manager, First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory

Kevin completed his Ph.D. in Nutrition Sciences from the University of North Carolina, and since then has completed many research projects related to obesity and health. Kevin is currently working with data from occupational medical exams to examine the current status of major cardiovascular disease risk factors in the fire service, and trends in firefighter health over time. 


 Emilie Bode

Emilie Bode, B.S.

Project Coordinator, First Responder Health and Safety Laboratory

Emilie graduated from the Health and Human Physiological Department of Skidmore College in 2019. During her 2018-19 academic year, she studied cardiovascular aspects of human performance under Dr. Smith's professorship and completed her senior thesis investigating the effect of pre-sleep, low glycemic index carbohydrate ingestion on morning endurance performance.