Smith is the author (or co-author) of more than 100 publications on cognitive and linguistic development in young children. With Esther Thelen, she co-authored the books A Dynamic Systems Approach to Development (Smith & Thelen 1993) and A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action (Thelen & Smith 1994), which look at development from a dynamic systems perspective.
She is also well known for her research on the shape bias (Landau et al. 1988), children's tendency to generalize new concrete nouns on the basis of the shape of the object to which they refer.
In 1997, she received the Tracy Sonneborn Award, Indiana University's highest award to its faculty. In 2007, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Smith is also a member of the Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society.
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