Rachel Smith has a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California at Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. Her research focused on the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), hazard planning, and community education/outreach issues. A firefighter from the age of 18, Smith has fought fires throughout California and the American west, as well as assisting suppression efforts in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Scotland, Spain, and Guatemala.

In 2000, Smith became the youngest female Smokejumper in history during her time working as a Type I firefighter and Incident Commander at the Redding base in Northern California.

After graduating from Whitman College with a degree in Bioethics, Smith was granted a prestigious Thomas J. Watson fellowship to study international forestry and fire management. Since returning from her international fellowship, Smith has worked on international fire related issues for The Nature Conservancy and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, a Leopold Schepp scholarship, and a Switzer Fellowship.


Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (2003)

National Science Foundation Fellowship (2007)

Leopold Schepp Scholarship (2010)

Switzer Fellowship (2010)

Presidential Management Fellowship listed Finalist (2011)


Smith, R. and K. Gilless. 2011. Institutional Obstacles to Success in Implementing a Statewide Community-Based Fire Planning Mandate. The California Journal of Politics and Policy 3:1. PDF.

Shlisky, A., Waugh, J., Stephens, S., Moritz, M., Smith, R. and R. Myers. 2007. Fire as a Global Conservation Issue: Regional Collaboration Toward Collective Action.Conference proceedings IALE World Congress.

Smith, R.C., Shlisky, A., Waugh, J., Stephens, S., Moritz, M., and R. Myers. 2006. Fuego Como Edición Global de la Conservación. Conference proceedings, Primer Taller Internacional sobre Manejo del Fuego.

Smith, R., Shlisky, A., Waugh, J., Stephens, S., and Moritz, M. 2006. Fire as a Global Conservation Issue Conference proceedings 3rd International Fire Ecology and Management Congress.

The Global Fire Partnership: The Nature Conservancy, The International Conservation Union, and the World-Wide Fund for Nature. 2005. Fire, Ecosystems and People: the Preliminary Fire Assessment Executive Summary. The Nature Conservancy.

Smith, R. 2004. An International Survey of Wildland Fire: Global Problem, Local Solutions. Thomas J. Watson Foundation.