Jessica Smith

Associate Professor, Engineering, Design, & Society
Co-Director, Humanitarian Engineering

As an anthropologist, Professor Smith’s research interests focus around the mining and energy industries, with particular emphasis in corporate social responsibility, engineers, labor and gender. She is currently investigating the intersections between engineering and CSR as PI on the NSF grant “The Ethics of Extraction: Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility into Engineering Education.” She currently directs the social science and policy research of the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST at Mines, leading a team of graduate and undergraduate students who investigate public policy surrounding debates about unconventional energy production in Colorado. Professor Smith’s first major research project investigated gender and mining from the perspective of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, where she grew up and drove haul trucks in the mines for summer employment during college. That research forms the basis of her book Mining Coal and Undermining Gender: Rhythms of Work and Family in the American West, which was funded by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a research grant from the National Science Foundation. She also co-organized the 2017 STS Underground conference at Mines and the 2016 “Energy Ethics: Fragile Lives and Imagined Futures” conference at the University of St. Andrews, which was later published as a special issue of Energy Research & Social Science. Her research also appears in journals such as American Anthropologist, Energy Policy, Social Studies of Science, Engineering Studies, Journal of Women & Minorities in Science and Engineering, and Science, Technology & Human Values.

Professor Smith also maintains an active research agenda on engineering education. In addition to the work integrating CSR into engineering curriculum, her research with co-PI Juan Lucena on low-income and first-generation engineering students was funded by the NSF grant “Invisible Innovators: How the knowledge and experiences of low-income and first-generation students (LIFGs) can contribute to US engineering problem definition and solving.” She is currently co-PI on a five-year NSF Partnerships in International Research and Education grant that will educate US engineering undergraduates to co-design, implement and evaluate more sustainable artisanal mining practices and technologies with miners and affected communities in Peru and Colombia. She helped establish Mines’ new undergraduate minor in Leadership in Social Responsibility as part of the Humanitarian Engineering program.


Stratton Hall 402
(303) 273-3944


  • PhD, Anthropology, University of Michigan
  • Certificate, Women’s Studies, University of Michigan
  • BA, International Studies, Anthropology and Latin American Studies, Macalester College