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Nicole Smith, Ph.D.

The Investigator

Nicole Smith, Ph.D.

Research Professor and Senior Economist, Georgetown University
Center on Education and the Workforce

The Investigator


Nicole Smith is a research professor and senior economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, where she leads the center’s econometric and methodological work. Dr. Smith has developed a framework for restructuring long-term occupational and educational projections. This framework forms the underlying methodology for “Help Wanted,” a report that projects education demand for occupations in the U.S. economy through 2020. She is part of a team of economists working on a project to map, forecast, and monitor human capital development and career pathways.

Her current research investigates the role of education and socioeconomic factors in intergenerational mobility. She is a co-author of “The Inheritance of Educational Inequality: International Comparisons and Fifty-Year Trends,” published in 2007 by the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. in economics from American University in Washington, D.C.


Q&A With Nicole Smith

How are the ACT Foundation and its Aces Research Network different from other education and workforce development efforts?

What sets the Aces Research Network apart is its unique direction and leadership. The diversity of the group will allow for synthesis of multiple perspectives of a common goal: supporting and raising learning outcomes for working learners. Because we have a common goal, we are able to be more comprehensive and pioneering when we create strategies to tackle issues and inform solutions.

What are you passionate about? What really excites you about this journey with the ACT Foundation?

One of the most important issues is how we can better relate learning opportunities to job opportunities. For example, how do we use various data sets to connect curriculum to specific competencies in demand in the labor market? We also need to look at how we are teaching those competencies so working learners can master them adequately and efficiently, and to come up with metrics that measure the success rate of teaching certain competencies.

How will the group work together?

In addition to conducting research, the Aces Research Network will get a hands-on feel for what is happening on the ground. Using actual evidence and anecdotes from real-life examples, we can look at data and research questions through a more pragmatic lens.

How will the research be different?

As scholars and researchers, we spend too much time speaking to other researchers—preaching to the choir. The Aces Research Network is committed to figuring out how to connect with the people who are making research impacts and developing strong communications that will allow us to translate our data and research into a format that stakeholders can actually understand and act on. Another unique feature of the research will be the infusion of education and workplace data that years of ACT research can provide and that we can apply to current trends and realities.

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