I am a comparative psychologist with a specialisation in canine cognition and behaviour. My field of research has covered various topics such as dingo cognition, the history of dingoes and their relationship with Indigenous Australians, the behaviour and enrichment of zoo animals, dingo conservation, and strategies of non-lethal control. I am also interested in all things relating to human-animal interactions, including conflict with wildlife, human-animal co-sleeping, animal-assisted therapy, naming animals, and the management of animals during natural disasters.
I am the editor and primary author of 'The dingo debate', a book published by CSIRO Publishing, and I regularly publish in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. I have also written articles for popular magazines, published nature photographs, consulted for the South Australian Government regarding captive dingo displays. I am often asked to provide public comments relating to canids across all forms of media.
I have been fortunate to have worked with dingoes since 2007. My research with dingoes has included various captive based experiments, as well as observational studies of dingoes on Fraser Island, and research the behaviour and management of dingoes living around mining operations in Western Australia. In my award-winning doctoral thesis, I demonstrated the dingo’s abilities as a highly social and intelligent top-order predator. By showing that dingoes are more wolf-like than dog-like in terms of the way they are built, behave, and think, I was able to highlight the effect that domestication has on the cognition of canids and why wolves, dingoes, and dogs are so well adapted to their respective natural environments.
I am the scientific director of the Australian Dingo Foundation, and the supervisor of research and ethics at the Dingo Discovery and Research Centre, the largest dingo sanctuary in Australia, as well as a scientific advisor to the WA Dingo Association (WADA).
In 2017 I joined the editorial advisory board of Anthrozoos, A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals (Taylor and Francis). In 2020 I became a member of the inaugural ‘Dingo Working Group’, under the IUCN Canids Specialist Group (2020-).
I currently work as a Senior Lecturer and Head of Course/Program (psychology) at Central Queensland University (Adelaide campus), where I lecture in psychology and research dingoes and the human-animal relationship. I am also a category B member of the CQUniversity Animal Ethics Committee.
In 2019 I established a research group called the 'Smith Human-Wildlife Co-existence Lab' (click here to visit the lab).
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.