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Dr. Isaac B. Smith

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Research Scientist

Currently resides in Canada
ibsmith [at]
Areas of Expertise
Targets: Mars
Disciplines/Techniques: Atmospheres, Climate, Education/Public Outreach (EPO), Geology, Geomorphology, Radar
Missions: MRO
Mission Roles: Instrument Co-Investigator, Science operations

Research Interests

I am a part time research scientist at PSI and an assistant professor at York University in Toronto, Ontario. I serve as a Co-Investigator for SHARAD on Mars Reconnaissnace Orbiter. My research focuses on sedimentary systems on Mars, especially related to the polar layered deposits, or ice caps. We study those layers in order to gain knowledge about the past climate of Mars. Primarily I use data from the shallow radar (SHARAD) instrument in Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to look for reflections beneath the surface of Mars. These reflections tell us about the geophysical makeup of the deposits and the geometry in which they were deposited. Some other instruments I use regularly are the Mars Orbiter Laster Altimeter (MOLA), the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).

Professional History

  • Starting in August 2018 I took a full time faculty position at York University in Toronto, Canada
  • From July 2017 to August 2018 I was a full time research scientist at PSI
  • From June 2016 to July 2017 I was a postdoctoral researcher at PSI working on many projects regarding the martian poles and sedimentary structurs at Valles Marineris.
  • From May 2014 to June 2016 I worked at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado as a Post-doctoral researcher.
  • From September 2013 to May 2014 I was the recipient of an international Fulbright Fellowship. I lived and worked in Paris at Universite Pierre et Marie Curie doing research with Aymeric Spiga. At the same time I concentrated heavily on learning French.
  • In August 2013 I completed the Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.
  • During my PhD I held a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship to study the spiral troughs on Mars polar layered deposits. In addition, I spent one semester at the Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique in Paris, also working with Aymeric Spiga.
  • In December 2007 I completed a Masters of Science degree in physics from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.
  • From August 2006 to August 2007 time I spent one year in Stuttgart, Germany at the Universitaet Stuttgart taking physics classes towards my M.S. while learning German and practicing Spanish.
  • In May 2002 I finished a Bachelors of Science in physics with a minor in mathematics from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

Honors and Awards

2018-2023    Canada Research Chair

2017             NASA Early Career Fellowship

2015             NASA Group Achievement Award for “Excellence in developing and executing the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Comet Siding Spring Observing Campaign”

2013-2014     J. William Fulbright Scholar international exchange fellowship

2012             Steven E. Dwornik Geological Society of America Best Graduate Poster 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Houston, TX

2011             Jackson School of Geosciences Best Student Paper University of Texas at Austin

2010-2013     NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship University of Texas at Austin

Fall 2009       Outstanding Student Paper Award, Planetary Science American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA

Fall 2008       Gale White Graduate Student Academic Fellowship University of Texas Institute for Geophysics

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