Niall Smith received his PhD (Astrophysics) from University College Dublin in 1990. In 2006 he was appointed as the first Head of Research with responsibilities for the overall management of an annual budget of €17m across all disciplines. Dr. Smith is a member of the International Astronomical Union and an ordinary member of several National Committees, notably including being a member of one of the working parties that developed the national research prioritisation strategy. He is an associate staff member at University College Cork. Dr. Smith has co-authored 27 papers and conference proceedings, 1 book chapter and has supervised 11 postgraduate students to graduation. Dr Smith established the Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO – www.bco.ie) and currently also holds the position of Head of BCO. The Observatory was opened in 2007 and presently houses a robotic observatory alongside Ireland’s first interactive science center which has won 7 international and national awards for excellence. BCO has welcomed over 800,000 visitors and taken its educational workshops into schools and communities to a further 87,000 students and general public. Dr. Smith’s research interests include developing instruments for high precision photometry from the ground, optical searches for extrasolar planets and robotic telescope arrays. The BCO team have recently installed a robotic telescope in California and leads the team organising the ISU SSP 2017. He is a Board Member of the National Sculpture Factory,has a keen interest in the interface between art and science and is a big fan of the Electric Light Orchestra.