Dr. Smith is Chief of the Space Biosciences Research Branch where he leads a team of NASA scientists and staff who are performing independent scientific investigations as well as providing scientific leadership for NASA programs, projects and initiatives in the space biosciences. The principal mission of the branch is to advance space exploration by achieving new scientific discoveries and technological developments in the biosciences. Relevant research and development issues of the branch include fundamental space biology, translational space biology, gravitational biology, radiation detection and biology, and research toward the development of countermeasures to preserve human health in space. The 13 research scientists and research engineers of the branch are organized into teams around these and other related scientific disciplines critical to NASA’s biosciences missions.
Dr. Smith has served as a research scientist and manager at NASA Ames since 1997. Prior to his appointment as chief of the Space Biosciences Research Branch (April 2010), Dr. Smith has served as a Science Project Manager for the Space Biosciences Division (2009-2010), Deputy Chief of the Entrepreneurial Initiatives Division (2007-2009) and as a manager and research scientist within the life sciences division at Ames (1997-2006). He also served a one-year fellowship to the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA Headquarters (2006-2007) where he led and participated in agency-wide studies and analyses.
Dr. Smith continues collaborative research work with members of his branch and with collaborators outside NASA. His research interests/expertise include scientific data visualization and analysis, computer-based simulation and modeling, cell biology/biotechnology, gravitational physiology and spaceflight hardware development for bioscience research. He has published more than 40 journal articles, proceedings, technical reports and abstracts in the scientific literature. He holds a Ph. D. in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado and Bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Zoology from Miami University in Oxford Ohio.