West Virginia University student Kelly Smith has been named to USA TODAY ’s 2006 All-USA College Academic Third Team. The issue featuring the honorees hits newsstands Wednesday (Feb. 15).

A WVU graduate student from McDonald , Pa. , Smith earned two undergraduate degreesone in biometric systems and the other in computer engineeringfrom the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in December. She is currently working on a master’s degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in biometrics, which she hopes to finish next December.

In addition to her studies, Smith is a graduate fellow with the federal government and recently completed a summer internship with the FBI in Washington , D.C.

Her numerous undergraduate activities included being founding president of WVU ’s Student Society for the Advancement of Biometrics and president of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering student advisory councils.

She has also participated in the Society of Women in Engineering, Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu engineering honoraries, Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Alpha Omicron Pi and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

For Smith, who already has an impressive list of accolades to her name, the USA TODAY honor was the icing on the cake.

I am really excited,she said.I had looked at past years and who had won. I was proud to get WVU on the list again. This is recognition not just for myself, but for the University and its outstanding achievements.

Smith said WVU ’s cutting-edge biometrics programone of the first academic degree programs of its kind in the nationgave her opportunities she wouldn’t have received at any other college or university.

Thanks to the professors here, I’ve had the opportunity to speak in front of numerous U.S. government and foreign dignitaries who have come to WVU to see the biometrics program,she said.The University opened doors for me. Knowing how much the professors care here at WVU , I know I made the right choice.

As an FBI intern in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy last summer, Smith played a key role in the development of the frequently asked questions and glossary pages for the Biometrics Catalog.

This award is most deserved, and I am extremely happy for Kelly,said Larry Hornak, professor of computer science and electrical engineering and director of the Center for Identification Technology Research, or CITeR.I have known her since she was a freshman. With this honor, Kelly continues to do what she has done since she entered WVU be both a path blazer and a role model for her fellow students.

Bojan Cukic, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering and co-director of CITeR, called Smithoutstandingly professional.

She is very efficient, very responsible and not only in a scientific way,he said.She

goes on recruiting trips, and she organized our Student Society for the Advancement of Biometrics.

As an undergraduate student, Smith had the unique opportunity to work in a lab, assisting WVU faculty on a National Science Foundation-sponsored project creating a public database that researchers around the world can use for biometrics research, Cukic noted. The project involved collecting iris patterns, fingerprints, palm prints and voice samples from about 300 volunteers.

The four-year project is becoming one of the most valuable resources in biometrics research,he said.

Aaron Peoples, a chemistry student from Canonsburg , Pa. , was the last WVU student to earn USA TODAY honors. In 2004, he received academic team honorable mention.

In addition, the following students have made the list: Ryan Schiffbauer, honorable mention, 2003; Mike Wood, first team, 2002; Peter Love, first team, 2001; Anna Blobaum, second team, 1999; Carmella Evans, first team, 1997; John Unger, first team, 1992; and Brian Caveney, first team, 1991.