After obtaining her PhD Magna Cum Laude (1981) from the Technical University of Munich (Supervisor: Professor Klaus Pinkau), she joined University of Athens, Greece; she retired in 1994 and joined NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2002 she became a NASA civil servant and in 2013 a Senior Scientist of High-Energy Astrophysics (HEA). In 2015, she retired from NASA and joined George Washington University, as a full Professor in Astrophysics and since 2020 as Chair.
Since 2015 she leads the GW/Astrogroup of ~20 members (faculty and graduate students) in HEA research; her expertise is in X- and -ray transients (e.g., -ray bursts, magnetars). During her career she won multiple grants and has served in over 20 Ph.D. committees in the USA and internationally. She has >475 refereed publications with a Hirsh-index of 98 (ADS), and co-edited 3 books. She is one of the 249 most-cited space science researchers worldwide (having occupied at times the 6th, 8th, and 10th place) with a current total of 46,533 citations (ADS; refereed and non-refereed publications). In 2013 she chaired the roadmap team which produced the report “Enduring Quests-Daring Visions (NASA Astrophysics in the Next Three Decades”.
She has received multiple awards, including the Descartes, Rossi, and Heineman Prizes, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. She served as Councilor and Vice President of American Astronomical Society (AAS), president of the AAS/HEAD, APS/DAP, IAU/Division D, member Astrophysics Subcommittee of NASA Advisory Council, Executive Council of the NAS/Space Studies Board, the AAAS, and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Board.
She is a member of US National Academy of Sciences, and Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, and a corresponding member Athens Academy, Greece. She has two honorary degrees (Universities of Amsterdam and Sussex). In 2015, she was decorated for excellence in science by the Greek Government as Commander of the Order of the Honor.
In 2021, she was awarded the Shaw Prize in Astrophysics (shared with V. Kaspi).
Mandate ERC Scientific Council: 01 Jan 2022 - 31 Dec 2026 (1st term).