Beck received her Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of Washington in Seattle. Since coming to Hamilton in 1985 her work has focused on the earliest human occupation of the Great Basin (called Paleoindian). She has spent the past 15 summers in eastern and central Nevada, together with her husband Tom Jones, teaching an archaeological field school and involving her undergraduates in field and lab research. She has published extensively, in such journals as American Antiquity, the Journal of World Prehistory, and Quaternary Research. In addition she has edited two books, Dating in Surface and Exposed Contexts (1994) and more recently, Models for the Millennium: Great Basin Anthropology Today (1999), which presents a set of papers on all aspects of current anthropological and archaeological research in the Great Basin.