Welcome! I currently work as a Senior Lecturer at Central Queensland University (Adelaide campus), where I lecture in psychology and research dingoes and the human-animal relationship. For more details about my research please see my 'Research' page. I am also a category B member of the CQUniversity Animal Ethics Committee, and Chair of the Undergraduate Psychology Course Reference Committee.
In 2019, I established a research group called the 'Smith Human-Wildlife Co-existence Lab'. Please click here to visit the lab website.
National and international reputation relating to the Australia dingo
I have established myself as a world expert on all facets of the dingo- including morphology, cognition, behaviour, management and human-dingo interactions. My research has demonstrated how unique and valuable the dingo is in terms of native Australian animals, and canids worldwide. I am responsible for several scientific ‘firsts’. For example, the first to publish a case study of tool use in wild canids, and reacting to the death of a conspecific. Outcomes from my research have been used to promote dingo conservation by enabling a greater understanding of the species and highlighting that conservation of the dingo is desirable and achievable.
Publications with ‘bite’
Many of the papers I have published have resulted in a high degree of impact. The most impactful or ‘high attention’ papers that I have been the lead author according to Altmetrics Scores (AS) include a recent paper relating to the testing of a non-lethal tool for dingo management in Pacific Conservation Biology (AS=223; top 5% of all outputs; 2nd highest score for the journal); a paper reviewing the taxonomic status of the dingo in Zootaxa (AS=197; top 5% of all outputs; 12th highest score for the journal); and a review on multi-species co-sleeping published in Human Nature (AS= 163; top 5% of all outputs). I have two papers that have been cited over 100 times.
I have led several noteworthy projects relating to the dingo and wildlife that bring together large interdisciplinary teams of global experts to produce highly impactful outcomes. These include:
In 2015, I published an edited book relating to the dingo ('The dingo debate') for CSIRO Publishing. I was the lead author of 8 chapters and invited several key academics to prepare chapters in line with their expertise on the dingo.
In 2019, I led a team of 26 national and international scientists on a paper in the journal, discussing the taxonomic status of the dingo (already has 25 citations). This is a highly debated subject, but I was able to accommodate the many divisive views and backgrounds. This also resulted in two articles for ‘The Conversation’ in 2018 (‘Why the WA government is wrong to play identity politics with dingoes’) and 2019 (‘The dingo is a true-blue, native Australian species’). These articles have been read online over 60,000 times (combined).
In 2021,I completed an edited book project for CSIRO Publishing (Wildlife Research in Australia: A practical guide) as the lead editor on a team of four (book release date of 2022). The book presents a reference guide covering all the techniques used to study Australia’s wildlife in an ethical manner. The book idea was inspired by my role on the CQU Animal Ethics Board as I quickly saw a need for such general operating procedures to be standardised. The book is 400,000 words long, involves 238 authors contributing to over 38 chapters. As part of the book I led two chapters, where I brought together large teams of relevant experts to address non-lethal methods of control, and non-invasive methods of observing wildlife.
Scientific Director, The Australian Dingo Foundation (ADF)
After many years of conducting research at the ADF and assisting the foundation in the study and conservation of dingoes, I was invited to join the board of directors as the scientific director of the Australian Dingo Foundation (ADF) in 2014. The ADF is a Commonwealth recognised not-for-profit environmental organisation that is involved in key conservation activities and government consultation related to dingoes, and also runs an associated dingo sanctuary (Dingo Discovery and Research Centre). In this position I provide strategic direction to the activities of the foundation, and oversee, assist and foster research that occurs at the foundations dingo sanctuary. In 2018 I developed and oversaw a student research scholarship opportunity for honours and PhD students. My role here allows me to attract student, but also offer excellent data collection opportunities.
Member of The IUCN 'dingo working group'
In 2020 I was invited to become a member of the inaugural ‘Dingo Working Group’, under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, Canid Specialist Group. The IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. This places dingoes on the world stage, and provides a platform for creating change, collaborations, and research in relation to the Australian dingo.
Editorial advisory board member of an international journal
The journal ‘Anthrozoos: A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals’ is the most highly respected journal in the area of human-animal interactions and anthrozoology (Q1, Impact Factor= 1.65). In 2017 I was invited to join the editorial advisory board. This reflects my international contributions to the field in relation to human-animal research. I also regularly act as an ad-hoc reviewer for over 20 interdisciplinary national and international journals (not listed here due to space restrictions, but available on request).
Invited keynote and speaker addresses
I have been invited to deliver several keynote and invited presentations to several national events, including a 2019 special forum on the dingo organised by the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales; an event relating to the management of Fraser Island; and an animal management workshop. In 2018 co-chaired a symposium with Dr Neil Jordan (UNSW) on human-wildlife conflict at the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) conference (Sydney). This symposium brought together leading researchers from multiple countries and across disciplines to discuss ‘rebuilding conscious coexistence’. In addition to the invited presentations, I have given 8 conference presentations both nationally (7) and internationally (1; USA) since 2015.
I am often called upon to provide expertise in relation to the management and care of the Australian dingo (including from Adelaide Zoo, Cleland Wildlife Park, Fraser Island (QPWS), and Telfer Mine). I am a member and advisor in relation to dingoes, for AMRRIC (Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities), which is a not-for-profit organisation that uses a One Health approach to coordinate veterinary and education programs in rural and remote Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities). I am often asked to provide expert advice and commentary for documentary filmmakers in relation to dingoes (e.g., in 2020 I was approached by Offspring Films to fact-check their narration of a dingo hunting kangaroos for a film called “Earth at night”). In 2021 I was invited to join the newly formed Myall Lakes DRaM (Dingo research and management) Working group to help the local managers try and manage the human-dingo interactions in the Hawks Nest/Myall Lakes tourist area (NSW Coast).
Media communication and science communication
My research is frequently covered by the television, print and radio media, and I am regularly asked to provide expert commentary on various issues relating to dingoes, dogs, and the human-animal relationship. I maintain a strong desire for communicating science, and achieve as much real-world impact as I can for my research. See Media page.
Ph.D. (Psychology; Animal Behaviour), University of South Australia
B.Psych. (Honours, First Class), University of South Australia
B.Psych., University of South Australia
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Central Queensland University
My broad areas of research interests include:
Animal cognition, behaviour, and welfare
Non-lethal management of carnivores
Dingoes (Canis dingo)
Environmental enrichment and stereotypic behaviour of captive animals
The management of animals during natural disasters
Please also see my list of publications.