Smartt won a European Young Investigator award in 2005 and is one of only three astronomers in Europe to hold this prestigious grant. He was awarded a personal Chair in April 2006 at Queen's. Prior to this he was a PPARC advanced fellow, first at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and then at Queen's. He previously worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Cambridge in the Hubble Space Telescope Support facility, and as a staff astronomer at the Isaac Newton Group of telescopes on La Palma, Canary Islands. He obtained his BSc and PhD from Queen's.
His main research interests are supernovae explosions, the lives of the most massive stars, and the chemical evolution of galaxies. His observational work uses the Hubble Space Telescope, and the largest telescopes on earth.
Smartt was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2005. He is currently (2007+) Chair of the Pan-STARRS Science Council, and a member of the European Virtual Observatory Science Advisory Commitee, and sat on the PPARC Astronomy Advisory Panel (2004-7). He has served on telescope time allocation committees for the European Southern Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and the UK's Panel for the allocation of Telescope Time.
He is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and chair of the RAS National Astronomy Meeting 2008 Scientific Organising Committee. He has given many invited reviews and talks at international conferences, and carries out an active public lecture programme.