Having grown up in Paris, Smith has been inspired by her native city to study urban renewal of industrial districts. Smith is currently focusing on the Bercy neighborhood of Paris.
Smith has focused on literary and film dystopias of the 20th Century, particularly centered on real and imaginary cities. Her research analyzes the evolution of urban design in dystopias from images of modernism in the 1920s (as in We by Yevgueni Zamyatin) to images of sprawl today (as in Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson). Research has been presented at the Constructing the City Symposium and has resulted in a Freshman Seminar entitled “Cities of Nightmare” taught twice to date. Research on this topic is ongoing.