Orbitrap Illustration

Richard D. Smith, PhD

Focus on Richard D. Smith, PhD


Battelle Fellow and Chief Scientist in the Biological Sciences Division and Director of Proteomics Research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL);
Director of the NIH Research Resource for Integrative Proteomics;
and affiliate faculty member at Washington State, Utah State, and University of Idaho.


A brief biography

Dick Smith’s first introduction to the field of mass spectrometry was while studying chemistry as an undergraduate at Lowell Technological Institute at the University of Massachusetts. He continued his education with Jean Futrell, a pioneer in the field of mass spectrometry, while earning a doctorate in Physical Chemistry at the University of Utah.  In 1976, Dr. Smith accepted an invitation to head up his own group at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington.

Mass spectrometry meets electrospray ionization

Dr. Smith and his group were at the forefront of a revolution in mass spectrometry when the field was just beginning to analyze large biomolecules by electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI). One of the team’s earliest breakthroughs was coupling the high resolution separation power of capillary electrophoresis to ESI-MS. During his time at PNL, Dr. Smith’s lab has significantly advanced nearly every aspect of ESI-MS including sample preparation and handling, separation science (e.g., capillary electrophoresis, microfluidics, and nano-scale very high pressure HPLC), the ESI source and ion generation, ion focusing and transmission, mass analyzers and ion detection, and data interpretation.  

An enormous mass spec legacy

Over the past 15 years, much of Dr. Smith's research has centered on creating and applying new ultra-sensitive technologies to quantitatively probe entire proteomes expressed by cells, tissues, and organisms. More recently, these efforts have broadened to include development and application of highly sensitive, high-throughput technologies for measuring the metabolome, lipidome, and glycadome to augment systems biology research.

In 1990, his group was responsible for the first demonstration of top-down analysis of intact proteins using mass spectrometry. He is also a leader in the combination of capillary supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) and capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE) and high-resolution LC with high-performance MS.

Dr. Smith is the author or co-author of more than 850 peer-reviewed journal articles and he has delivered more than 350 invited or plenary lectures at national and international scientific meetings. He is the recipient of 44 patents spanning the development of advanced analytical methods and instrumentation, with particular emphasis on high-resolution separations and mass spectrometry, and their applications in biological and biomedical research.  In addition, Dr. Smith has earned multiple awards and special recognition including being named to the prestigious Scientific American 50 list of outstanding leaders, receiving nine R&D 100 Awards, and accepting the 2003 American Chemical Society Award for Analytical Chemistry.  
You can learn more about Dr. Smith and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory by clicking here

Richard Smith is featured in the  "Leaders in Protein Mass Spectrometry 2012-2013 Calendar." Order your free copy by clicking here