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Paula Smith

Associate Professor | K12


Dr. Smith is a developmental psychologist with expertise in school-based prevention in middle and high schools. Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of schools and juvenile justice systems - the school-to-prison pipeline, juvenile justice, restorative justice, and access to mental health resources. Her currently funded research spans three areas, but are all concerned with maximizing youth and community potential through the use of evidence-based research. She is the evaluator of a 5-year suicide prevention intervention in 3 Utah school districts. Her most recently funded research project focuses on developing a coalition model to address substance misuse and promote mental health among college students in Utah’s public institutions of higher education. Lastly, she is also the Principal Investigator of a research initiative to improve the quality of doctoral socialization for Black graduate students; addressing the ways in which anti-Black racism permeates academia.

Professionally, Dr. Smith is a Board Member for the Society of Prevention Research (, the National Prevention Science Coalition (, and she is the Chair of the Utah Prevention Research Group. She also serves on the drug prevention taskforce for the Utah State Board of Education and is a tireless advocate for socially just and equitable policies and practices in PK-12 schools and other youth-serving agencies.

Areas of Expertise

Leadership / Policy


  • Smith, P. & Brown, A. M. (Forthcoming). Leading Restorative Justice Efforts for Equity in Secondary Schools. In R. Shankar Brown (Ed.), Re-Envisioning Education: Affirming Diversity and Advancing Justice.
  • Pasupathi, M., & Smith, P. (2021). Revenge, Justice Systems, and Institutional Trust in Schools: Narrative Considerations. In H. Recchia & C. Wainryb (Eds.), Revenge across Childhood and Adolescence (pp. 218-246). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108776684.009
  • Terrell, S.*, & Smith, P. (2021, February) School resource officers and racial disparities in school discipline and juvenile justice referrals. Prepared for the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives. *student

Honors & Awards

  • 2021: Superior Service Award, College of Education
  • 2021: Maya Angelou Award for Innovation, Black Faculty & Staff Association
  • 2021: Excellence in Service, Black Cultural Center