Loss of Two Colleagues, Friends, Role Models

December 13, 2018

The Autism Intervention Research Network for Behavioral Health (AIR-B) is celebrating the lives of two extraordinary individuals, Dr. Tristram Smith, Ph.D., and Dr. Loretta Jones, M.A., Th.D. Both individuals made substantial contributions to building meaningful partnerships in their communities, as well as communities across the country.

Dr. Tristram Smith passed away on August 6, 2018. He was the Haggerty-Friedman Professor in Developmental/Behavioral Pediatric Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). As noted by Dr. Iadarola at the University of Rochester, while Dr. Smith was an internationally renowned researcher, he will be "best remembered for his self-deprecating humor while simultaneously inspiring an admiring room full of parents and professionals. He was a man of brilliance but also kindness, integrity, creatively, and a quick, dry wit". Longtime AIRB collaborator, Dr. Smith was a mentor to many trainees across sites and will be sorely missed.

We also lost Dr. Loretta Jones, who passed away on November 22, 2018. Dr. Jones, the founder of Healthy African American Families (HAAF II) and the AIR-B network's longtime community partner of seven years, provided us with guidance on her vision of the importance of building partnerships between community members and academics as co-equals in order to address inequalities in health care and to better serve our communities. Dr. Jones was a strong woman - fierce, passionate, and un- afraid to call out even the most established researchers any time she believed a decision did not consider community as the top priority. Her contributions have had a significant impact on underrepresented communities and on research; namely, community-partnered participatory research (CPPR), which she developed with her colleagues. CPPR teaches us all that research can be, and should be, done with the community, not just about or in the community; as Dr. Jones would say, it's about "we, us, our."

Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones both achieved many honors over their lifetimes, and have left legacies that will go on to influence the field of healthcare generally, and autism research specifically for years to come.

Pictures of Dr. Loretta Jones and Dr. Tristram Smith during AIR-B3's community conference in South Los Angeles, 2015.