Professor Shapiro's research is in computer vision with related interests in image and multimedia database systems, artificial intelligence (search, reasoning, knowledge representation, learning), and applications in medicine and robotics. She has worked heavily in knowledge-based 3D object recognition and has contributed to both the theory of object matching and to the development of experimental machine vision systems. Her current work includes content-based image retrieval, knowledge-based 3D object recognition and reconstruction, medical informatics, and pattern learning for complex classification problems. She also participates in the human factors and virtual reality research at the UW HIT Lab.

Professor Shapiro is a member of the editorial boards of Computer Vision and Image Understanding and of Pattern Recognition. She was the editor-in-chief of Computer Vision, Graphics, and Image Processing for 10 years. She was the 1993-95 chair of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, conference chair of the 1986 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition and co-program chairman of the 1994 conference. She was the co-chair of the Biomedical and Multimedia Applications Track of the International Conference on Pattern Recognition in 2002 and co-chair of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition. She has also co-authored a textbook on data structures, a two-volume graduate text on computer and robot vision, and an undergraduate computer vision text.