Head of Research CIT/Head of Blackrock Observatory
Niall Smith studied astrophysics at University College Dublin and graduated with his PhD in 1990. He lectured in the Department of Applied Physics & Instrumentation in Cork Institute of Technology for 18 years before becoming the Institute’s first Head of Research in 2005, now providing strategic oversight of a budget of €14m per annum across disciplines from science and engineering to arts and music. Niall is the Founder-Director of the internationally award-winning Blackrock Castle Observatory which has just celebrated its 11th anniversary and over 1.2 million visitors. He is passionate about using astronomy to catalyse conversations about science and how it can lead to a better world for all of us who live on this small planet that we call home. In 2017, Niall was the host Director for the International Space University Space Studies Programme which is the largest conference programme ever to come to Cork, lasting a total of 9 weeks and involving over 320 global space experts. Niall’s research focuses on space topics including uses of small satellites in low earth orbit for a wide range of functions from imaging to broadband. He is a member of the National Steering Group for the soon-to-be published Space Strategy for Enterprise. In his spare time, Niall is a keen ballroom dancer and enjoys crime dramas.