Dr. Smith has always combined research and teaching, for example teaching field courses at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado while conducting her field research, and mentoring over 30 undergraduate and several graduate students through their research projects as she teaches introductory and upper-level courses. Her research is in two fields: behavioral ecology and science education. For her undergraduate research she studied optimal foraging in barn owls, for her M.S., anti-predator behavior and foraging behavior and the coexistence of desert rodents, and for her Ph.D. tested a trade-off model of species coexistence among a group of ground-dwelling squirrels as well as the evolutionary origins of sociality and anti-predator behaviors. Currently the focus of her biological research is on the behavior, ecology, and evolution of burying beetles (Nicrophorus), particularly population dynamics and reproductive strategies. In biology education she studies the effectiveness of a variety of teaching methods, including methods to enhance teacher training and inquiry-based activities.