William S. Smith Jr. - Dr. Smith brings over 40 years of experience in scientific research, public service in the Executive Branch, policy experience on the Hill, work with the university community, and management experience in the non-profit sector. 

Dr. Smith obtained his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1974.  As a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California at Irvine, Dr. Smith worked on ozone depletion under the direction of F. Sherwood Rowland. Dr. Smith carried out computer simulations and conducted laboratory determinations of critical reaction rates.  This field of research eventually resulted in a Nobel Prize in 1995.

He joined the Department of Transportation in 1979 to manage its research program aimed at high altitude aircraft emissions.  Ozone depletion from such emissions, combined with the effects of chlorofluorocarbons, was a complex scientific problem which intersected regulatory programs both within the EPA and DOT.  Dr. Smith’s task was to identify and fund critical theoretical and experimental work that would lead to a better understanding of the chemistry and dynamics of the stratosphere.

While at the Department of Transportation, Dr. Smith was also detailed to the Federal Aviation Administration where he worked on a wide variety of specialized aviation safety and environmental problems.  These include assessments and strategies for mitigating airspace hazards from volcanic ash, solar coronal mass ejections, and atmospheric radiological hazards from atmospheric nuclear tests and power plant accidents.  Dr. Smith was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service medal in 1980 for his analysis and support of joint NASA and FAA operations during the final phases of the Skylab program and its ultimate re-entry.

In 1985, Dr. Smith joined the staff of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and served as the Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Space.  Dr. Smith served under four committee chairmen including George Brown from California, and Don Fuqua from Florida.  He also served under Ralph Hall from Texas, and Bill Nelson, now a Senator from Florida, in directing the Subcommittee’s activities.

During his 14 years as a key staff member of this Committee, he led in the development of policy and legislation to guide the space program through a dynamic and sometimes difficult period highlighted by the onset of Shuttle operations, the Challenger accident, the initiation of the Space Station program, and the Hubble Space Telescope program. 

This was also a period in which the commercial space sector in launch services and remote sensing applications began to emerge.  Dr. Smith was heavily involved in developing policy and legislation to address these.

In 1994, Dr. Smith was appointed Deputy Democratic Chief of Staff for the House Science Committee.  In that capacity he worked on a wide range of issues including climate change and energy issues.  Dr. Smith attended the Kyoto Climate Conference 1997 as a Congressional Observer. 

In 2000, Dr. Smith was appointed President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  AURA is a consortium of 46 major academic research institutions, promoting the advancement of astronomy and its related sciences.  In this capacity, Dr. Smith led in the advocacy and construction of major cutting edge astronomical facilities.  According to the National Science Foundation statistics, AURA, under Dr. Smith’s leadership, has been among the top awardees for NSF funding.  A minor planet, Billsmith91275, was named after Dr. Smith in 2014 by the International Astronomical Union.

Under Dr. Smith’s leadership AURA has maintained a leading role in astrophysical research.  Dr. Smith initiated early efforts to define the science case and critical technologies for the next generation of 30 meter class telescopes.  Under Dr. Smith, AURA strongly advocated the establishment of a 30 meter class telescope as a number one priority for ground based astronomy in the 2000 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.  Dr. Smith was a founding member of the board of the Thirty Meter Telescope project that included the University of California, Caltech, and Canada.  At the request of NSF, AURA withdrew as a direct participant in the TMT Board in order for a competitive process to play out in order to award a cooperative agreement for federal participation in a 30 meter class project.  In 2014, under Dr. Smith, AURA re-entered the TMT governance as as Associate Member of the newly constituted Thirty Meter International Observatory.

Dr. Smith also participated in the development of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a joint project between the NSF and Department of Energy, now being constructed on Cerro Pachon northern Chile.  His work on the LSST involved the development of working relationships with over 35 university partners which formed the LSST Corporation, and development of a management concept for construction under the leadership of AURA.  

During Dr. Smith’s term, a major effort was undertaken to consolidate and relocate the National Solar Observatory which had been located in New Mexico and Arizona.  Dr. Smith conducted a nationwide solicitation to identify a host university campus that would offer research collaborations, joint and shared faculty positions, facility sharing, and other benefits.  AURA selected the University of Colorado, Boulder as the host site.

Dr. Smith’s accomplishments in the space astronomy area included the initiation and successful proposal for the management of science operations for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) under the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.  Dr. Smith played a leading role in forming a coalition to manage the industry interface for JWST.  This coalition became an important avenue for managing and reducing the costs of JWST during a critical period.  Working with Congress, Dr. Smith was able to win approval for the continuance of JWST provided cost and schedule milestones were met.  Dr. Smith also worked to establish an independent review panel to ensure that management reforms were incorporated in JWST, and NASA in general for major science development projects.

Dr. Smith also played a leading role following the loss of the Columbia Orbiter in securing an additional Space Shuttle mission to install new instruments and extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope.  This involved proactive work in achieving Congressional support for additional funding to carry out the mission.

NASA and NSF contract revenues exceeded $200 million per year.  AURA employed over 1000 engineers, scientists, and administrative staff located in four dispersed locations in New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii, and Chile.  Dr. Smith also built strong relationships with a wide variety of public and private universities in the US and in other countries such as Chile, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Spain and Japan.

Dr. Smith joined ScienceWorks International in 2015 as Vice President.  ScienceWorks is a consulting firm helping people and organizations succeed in science and engineering research. Dr. Smith has worked with Universities and major private research organizations to improve their competitiveness for new opportunities and to align their strategic directions with the emerging landscape in science.

Dr. Smith publishes the widely read Washington’s Week in Science which provides summaries of significant policy initiatives and funding opportunities with a Washington viewpoint.  The newsletter is read by over 600 subscribers.

In 2016 Dr. Smith established an independent science consulting firm, Smith Science Strategies LLC to accommodate a wide variety of clients seeking support from federal agencies and private foundations.

Dr. Smith brings a wealth of experience in science management and policy. He has worked directly with agency executives in NASA, NSF, and Department of Energy.  He has been a first-hand participant in the legislative process and has worked with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  His scientific background and areas of expertise have enabled his involvement in a diverse array of issues including the budgetary process, policy making in the Congressional and Executive Branches, basic research policy, space science and astronomy, and environmental issues.









2015-Present               Vice-President, ScienceWorks International.  Consulting services aimed at increasing the research capacity for universities and non-profit research organizations.


2000-2015                   President, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy.  Chief Executive Officer, supervision over all programmatic, financial, and other matters.


1998-2000                   Vice President for Programs, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  Responsible for the development of program initiatives and promotion of AURA activities and interests for the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the Gemini Project. 


1994-1998                   Deputy Democratic Chief of Staff.  Responsible for strategic planning for all Committee activities of the Democratic Caucus, development of Democratic budget proposals for agencies within the Committee’s jurisdiction including NSF, NASA, NOAA, and environmental programs.


1988-1994                   Staff Director, Subcommittee on Space, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives.  Principally responsible for the development of policy and legislation pertaining to the space program including activities within NASA, NOAA, and the Departments of Transportation and Commerce.


1985-1988                   Science Advisor, Subcommittee on Space, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives.  Responsible for oversight and legislation relating to NASA’s space science activities. 


1977-1985                   Physical Scientist, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation.  Program management positions within the Federal Aviation Administration in the areas of environmental quality, aviation security, and aviation safety.


1974-1977                   Post Doctoral Research Associate, University of California, Irvine.  Major research activities during post-doctoral appointment pertained to the effects of man-made chlorofluorocarbons on the stratospheric ozone layer. 


1971-1974                   Graduate Research, Texas A&M University.  Graduate research involved the development of theoretical models to describe the transfer of energy in unimolecular chemical reactions.



B.S. Chemistry, Texas A&M University, 1970

PhD Chemistry, Texas A&M University, 1974

Post-Doctoral Research, University of California, Irvine 1974-1977



NASA Exceptional Service Medal

Department of Commerce Science and Technology Fellowship

Minor Planet 91275 Designated Billsmith by the International Astronautical Union



Member, NASA Space Science Advisory Committee

Member Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (A joint NSF, NASA, DOE advisory committee established by Congress)

Member National Academy of Sciences Committee on NASA Strategic Missions



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