Arfon Smith

Head, Data Science Mission Office
Arfon Smith

As the head of the data science mission office, Dr. Arfon M. Smith is responsible for defining the institute’s strategy for data management and data science for the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), our multi-mission, multi-petabyte archives. Before accepting this role, he was a program manager and a scientist at GitHub, Inc., a web-based version control repository and internet hosting service, where he defined business strategy for public data products, and helped establish the company’s first data science and data engineering teams. He also developed resources for academics, and engaged research communities through regular public talks and workshops.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Smith served as the director of citizen science at the Alder Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois, where he managed a team of developers, scientists, researchers, and educators who built citizen science platforms funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Before that, he co-founded the Zooniverse citizen science platform at the University of Oxford and led the development of more than 30 large-scale citizen science projects with high-profile partners, including NASA, SETI, Scientific American, and the BBC. As a senior engineer at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, he worked on the production software team to build software to support the laboratory process for a DNA sequencing platform.

Dr. Smith serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Open Source Software, co-chair of the Force11 Software Citation Working Group, technical lead for the Open Journal of Astrophysics, and manages his own blog. His work has appeared in the Astrophysical Journal, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and PeerJ Computer Science. He has presented at the American Astronomical Society Meeting and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, as well as major technical conferences, including the Strata Data Conference and TEDGlobal.


PhD in Astrochemistry, University of Nottingham
BSc in Chemistry, University of Sheffield


Research Topics: Astrochemistry, Chemical Abundances; Academic Credit Models; Crowd-sourcing/Citizen Science; Interstellar Medium; Open-source Software; Scholarly Publishing


Professional Websites:

Professional Website

The Journal of Open Source Software


ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3957-2474