Dr. Karen Smith was a NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD before joining the Boise State Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Arizona State University, and has a dual-title Ph.D. in Geosciences and Biogeochemistry from The Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Smith specializes in Analytical Chemistry and will be working on research projects with Dr. Michael Callahan, whom she worked with at NASA for almost a decade. The aim of Smith’s research is to understand the chemistry of nitrogen heterocycles under plausibly prebiotic conditions. She is also interested in the synthesis and evolution of organic compounds in extraterrestrial materials and how these compounds may have participated in prebiotic chemistry.
She began her journey into chemistry in a pre-vet program; she took chemistry courses to fulfill the requirements of the program and realized that she liked chemistry much better. Eventually, she pursued research because she was interested in the origin of the genetic code.
Originally being from the state of Washington, Dr. Smith wanted to return to the Pacific Northwest after completing her postdoc, which led her to Boise State University. Her hobbies include baking, gardening, and spending time with family.
Dr. Smith is excited to continue research and to work with students at Boise State University.