Born in Zagreb, Croatia. Received her PhD degree at Zagreb University after doctoral studies both in Zagreb and UCLA. She is Full Professor of Linguistics at the University of Zagreb. In 2010, she was elected Fellow of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences and, in 2013, a member of Academia Europaea.
Her areas of expertise are Cognitive Linguistics, Semantics, Syntax, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Sociolinguistics, and Cognitive Science ‒ within which she is actively engaged in multidisciplinary research of linguistics and neuroscience at the Croatian Brain Institute, Medical School of the University of Zagreb. With her book Knowledge of Language and Knowledge of the World (1991) she was the first scholar to introduce Cognitive Linguistics into Croatian linguistic circles, and the book remains one of the most quoted books in Croatian linguistic literature.
In 2011 she was awarded the National Award for Science by the Croatian Parliament. She served as the Croatian Minister of Science and Technology from 1999 to 2000. From 2009 to 2012, she was Chair of the Standing Committee for the Humanities of the European Science Foundation. During her mandates, she instigated policy incentives for Multi/Transdisciplinary Research as well as Digital Humanities. From 2012 to 2013, she was member of the EC Expert Group for the ESFRI Roadmap, and is at present member of numerous Science Advisory Boards at European level in the domains of SSH and Research Infrastructures.
From 2008, she was member of the ERC Advanced Grant Panel SH4 “The Human Mind and Its Complexity”, and chaired the Panel from 2014. From 2016 she was a member of the High Level Group on Maximising Impact of EU Research and Innovation Programmes, set up by the European Commission, chaired by Pascal Lamy. In 2018 she was appointed a member of the JRC (Joint Research Centre) High-Level Peer Group of the European Commission.
Mandate ERC Scientific Council: 01 Jan 2020 - 31 Dec 2023 (1st term).