Dr. Smith is a Research Scientist at the PRI. In addition, he is a lecturer in the Department of Biology at Ithaca College, where he teaches a course on the history of life. Smith has also worked in the PRI collections identifying western Pacific Cenozoic mollusks prior to curation.

Research Focus

Dr. Smith’s research is largely focused on the molluscan fauna of the Colorado River estuary in Mexico, where he studies both the living community and the past community preserved in unique shelly accumulations along the shore. This work is best defined as conservation paleobiology, as the primary goal is to examine the manner in which the community has changed in response to human actions in the region, such as freshwater diversions and fishing. To evaluate the degree to which the community has changed, Smith considers multiple aspects, including community membership, relative abundances of species, intensity of past and present predation, and changes to the demography of select species.

Smith is also interest in pedagogy and the implementation of active learning in STEM classrooms. Working with Engineering Learning Initiatives in Cornell University’s School of Engineering, he has coordinates and led trainings for graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants and tutors on effective grading practices, conflict management, active learning, and laboratory instruction. In this role, his work is enhanced by active research on best practices in STEM education, which he implements in his own course at Ithaca College.

Selected Publications (*** = peer-reviewed)

  • Dietl, G. P., J. A. Smith and S. R. Durham. 2019. Discounting the past: the undervaluing of paleontological data in conservation science . Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7:108 doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00108.. [paper] [#852]
  • Smith, J. A., J. Handley and G. P. Dietl. 2018. Effects of dams on downstream molluscan predator-prey interactions in the Colorado River estuary . Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B. 285: 20180724. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.0724]. [paper] [#849]
  • Dietl, G. P. and J. A. Smith. 2017. Live-dead analysis reveals long-term response of the estuarine bivalve community to water diversions of the Colorado River . Ecological Engineering 106 (B): 749-756. [paper] [#846]
  • Smith, J. A., G. P. Dietl and D. H. Goodwin. 2014. Building a pre-dam baseline for molluscan predator-prey interactions in the northern Gulf of California. The Paleontological Society Special Publications 13: 83. *** [poster] [#628]
  • Dietl, G. P., J. A. Smith, H. A. Zamora, S. R. Durham and K. W. Flessa. 2014. Using the tools of conservation paleobiology to provide a baseline for estuarine restoration resulting from the 2014 engineered spring-flood of the Colorado River. Annual Meeting & Exposition, GSA 2014, Program, 20 October 2014, abstract 134-11. [poster] [#637]
  • Smith, J. A. and G. P. Dietl. 2014. Utilization of geohistorical data to identify an invasive predatory gastropod in the Colorado River delta, Mexico. Annual Meeting & Exposition, GSA 2014, Program, 20 October 2014, abstract 134-1. [poster] [#650]
  • Smith, J. A., G. P. Dietl, D. H. Goodwin and H. A. Zamora. 2013. Can predation metrics be reliably calculated from size-biased target collected samples?. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 45(7,1): 756. [talk] [#631]
  • Smith, J. A.. 2012. The effect of wave exposure on crab predation of littorinids on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. The Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Charlotte, NC, 4-7 November, Abstracts with Programs, 149-11 [online]. [talk] [#521]
  • Smith, J. A.. 2012. Surface alteration of fish and mammal bone in the burial environment: a comparative study. The Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Charlotte, NC, 4-7 November, Abstracts with Programs, 102-37 [online]. [poster] [#522]
  • Smith, J. A., G. P. Dietl, P. H. Kelley, M. Christie, R. Lockwood and K. M. Layou. 2011. Confamilial predation on naticid gastropods through a pulsed extinction in the Plio-Pleistocene of the Carolinas. Geological Society of America, Minneapolis, MN, 9-12 October 2011, Abstracts with Programs, 43(5): 615. [poster] [#613]