Headshot of David J. Smith smiling in a dark green polo and navy blue undershirt.

David J. Smith

Program Scientist

David J. Smith is a scientist in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. He is the Program Scientist for OSIRIS-REx and the lead Program Officer for Here to Observe (H2O), Planetary Protection Research (PPR), and Internal Scientist Funding Model (ISFM) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Ames Research Center, Johnson Space Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center. He also provides support for the Lunar Data Analysis Program (LDAP) and is the Headquarters Liaison for the NASA Astrobiology’s Network for Life Detection (NfoLD).

David came to Headquarters in 2022 following a 15-year civil servant career as a NASA microbiologist, in addition to serving as Chief of the Space Biosciences Division (2021-2022) and Chief of the Space Biosciences Research Branch (2018-2020) at Ames Research Center. He began his NASA career at Kennedy Space Center in 2007, gaining ground- and spaceflight-based project experience with hardware flown on the space shuttle and International Space Station. Later moving to Ames in 2015, David founded the Aerobiology Laboratory where he led the design, construction, and validation of payloads carrying microbiology experiments with the NASA Balloon Program, as well as the use of a bioaerosol collector on NASA’s C-20A aircraft.

David received a B.A. in Ecological & Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University in 2007 and a Ph.D. in Biology & Astrobiology from the University of Washington in 2012. David is the recipient of NASA’s Early Career Achievement Medal (2016), the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2019), and NASA’s Diversity Equity Inclusion and Accessibility Medal (2022).

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