Smith, born in 1927, is currently Professor of Economics and Law at the Chapman University, where he leads a team that will create and run the new Economic Science Institute at Chapman, and also a Fellow of the Mercatus Center all in Arlington, VA. He received his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Cal Tech, and his PhD in Economics from Harvard. He has authored or co-authored over 200 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics.
He serves or has served on the board of editors of the American Economic Review, The Cato Journal, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Science, Economic Theory, Economic Design, Games and Economic Behavior, and the Journal of Economic Methodology. He is past president of the Public Choice Society, the Economic Science Association, the Western Economic Association and the Association for Private Enterprise Education. Previous faculty appointments include the University of Arizona, Purdue, Brown University and the University of Massachusetts. He has been a Ford Foundation Fellow, Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology.
In 2002, Smith shared the Nobel Memorial Price in Economics with Professor Daniel Kahneman. Smith was given this award "for having established laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis, especially in the study of alternative market mechanisms." (The Nobel e-Museum)
Smith has laid the foundation for the field of experimental economics. He has developed an array of experimental methods, setting standards for what constitutes a reliable laboratory experiment in economics. His work has been instrumental in establishing experiments as an essential tool in empirical economic analysis.