Howard A. Smith, PhD, is a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a Lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy. He has over two hundred fifty published articles in astronomy and astrophysics. His research emphasizes the origins of stars and galaxies, in particular using techniques of infrared astronomy and spectroscopy. He has been the principal investigator on numerous national and international research grants and programs. A co-investigator on the European Space Agency’s Infrared Space Observatory satellite, he led the Extragalactic Science program for its Long Wavelength Spectrometer team. He is currently a senior member of several teams with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as with the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory.
Dr. Smith was previously the chair of the Laboratory for Astrophysics, the astronomy department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, where he supervised a staff of scientists and educators. He also played a key role in developing museum galleries, education programs, videos, and IMAX movies, including the Academy Award nominee “Cosmic Voyage.” For three years he served as a rotating discipline scientist at NASA headquarters, where he was responsible for grants in theory, data analysis, long-term research, and some proposed NASA missions. Before joining the Smithsonian, he led an astrophysics research program at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Smith has been recognized by Harvard for his excellence in teaching. In addition to his research activities or teaching undergraduates, he is active in public education and outreach. He lectures and teaches widely on the topic of science and religion, Judaism, cosmology, and modern physics, and does so to a broad audience including people from all religious faiths or atheistic perspectives, and people who normally have only a passing interest or knowledge in science or Jewish mysticism.
Dr. Smith holds an undergraduate degree from MIT in physics, a second degree from MIT in humanities and science, and a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Astronomical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A traditional and observant Jew, he has lectured on cosmology and Kabbalah for over twenty years. He is married with three children.