1974 PhD in Chemistry, Texas A&M University – Theoretical studies of energetic unimolecular reactions. Awarded Outstanding Graduate Research Prize
1974-1977 Post-Doctoral Appointment University of California, Irvine – Research focused on ozone depletion from fluorocarbons. Carried out laboratory research in chemical kinetics and modeling of the atmosphere. During this period, he also carried out research at Los Alamos Meson Beam Facility on synthesizing fluorine labelled Uracil and other nucleobases in the nucleic acid of RNA.
1977-1982 Physical Scientist, Federal Aviation Administration Office of Environmental Quality – Program Manager for environmental quality. Primary objective was to characterize the chemical and dynamical characteristics of the upper troposphere and stratosphere in order to establish a regulatory basis for limiting high altitude aircraft emissions from supersonic transports and other advanced passenger aircraft.
1982-1985 Physical Scientist Federal Aviation Administration Office of Aviation Safety – Responsible for developing mitigation strategies for hazards to aviation including airborne volcanic ash, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, and radiological hazards from stratospheric nuclear test debris. Also led the agency effort to analyze and avoid the potential safety hazards from the re-entry of Skylab, and potential hazards associated with the initiation of Space Shuttle operations and emerging commercial space launch operations.
1985-1986 Congressional Fellow, Subcommittee on Space, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives – Conducted oversight activities for the Hubble Space Telescope, legislative activities for the commercialization of Landsat.
1986-1988 Science Advisor, Subcommittee on Space, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives – Legislative activities leading to the Commercial Space Launch Act.
1988-1994 Staff Director, Subcommittee on Space, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives – Responsible for all oversight and legislative activities related to NASA, NOAA, and the FAA Commercial Space Office. Key highlights during that time included the initiation of Space Shuttle operations, launch of the Great Observatories including Hubble Space Telescope, initiation of the Space Station program, and the investigation and aftermath of the Challenger accident.
1994-1998 Deputy Democratic Chief of Staff, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives – During the period when the House majority shifted to the Republican Party, Dr. Smith acted as the Deputy Chief of Staff and was responsible for strategic planning for the Democratic minority.
1998-2000 Vice President for Programs, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy – Led AURA in the development of new initiatives, primarily the Next Generation Space Telescope, now called the James Webb Space Telescope. Also led in the effort to establish a large aperture 50 meter ground based segmented mirror telescope. Originally called the Maximum Aperture Telescope, it is now the Thirty Meter Telescope under construction in Hawaii.
2000-2015 President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy – During Dr. Smith’s Presidency, AURA revenues increased by 40% to its present level of over $200 Million. Dr. Smith led the effort to secure funding for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. Other major observatories under Dr. Smith’s purview include the National Optical Astronomy Observatory located in Tucson and in Chile, the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico and Arizona, the International Gemini Observatory located in Hawaii and Chile, and the Space Telescope Science Institute located in Baltimore. Dr. Smith was responsible for planning and executing all efforts to secure funding for AURA’s observatories when each came up for renewal or was re-competed.
During his Presidency, Dr. Smith met a wide variety of other administrative and political challenges. Dr. Smith led the overall AURA effort to secure an additional servicing mission for the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope following the Columbia disaster. During this period, Dr. Smith also led the effort to take over the management of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope now under construction in Chile.
Dr. Smith led and promoted new initiatives to increase diversity and gender balance in the field of astronomy. For this, the International Astronomical Union designated the minor planet 91275 in Dr. Smith’s name.
2015–Present Vice President, ScienceWorks International, LLC