Professor Smith earned her undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Wyoming and both graduate degrees in economics (M.A. and Ph.D.) at Virginia Tech. She joined the UM-Dearborn faculty in 1988.
Professor Smith’s research focuses on the relationships between health and socioeconomic status. For example, she published a book on whether participation in the food stamps program causes obesity among low income Americans. She has also examined whether asthma leads to lower wealth accumulation or if wealth protects against asthma. A recent publication shows that income and wealth are not major predictors of fast-food consumption among adults, but hours worked and regularly reading ingredient labels are.