Chryssa Kouveliotou

The George Washington University


Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2013)

Biosketch

Chryssa Kouveliotou is the Senior Technologist in High Energy Astrophysics at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. She is an observational high-energy astrophysicist recognized for her work on transient phenomena. In particular, she is known for her discovery of neutron stars with extremely high magnetic fields (magnetars) and her work on advancing our understanding of cosmological Gamma-Ray Bursts. Kouveliotou was born in Athens, Greece, and graduated from the National University of Athens with a degree in Physics. She earned a Masters degree from the University of Sussex, England, and a Doctorate degree from the Technical University of Munich in 1981. She was on the tenured faculty of the University of Athens before joining Universities Space Research Association in 1991, becoming in 1998 the Director of its Huntsville Astronomy Program. She became a U.S. citizen in 2002 and joined NASA in 2004. Kouveliotou is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Vice President of the American Astronomical Society. She has received multiple awards, including the Descartes Prize of the European Community, the Rossi Prize of the AAS High-Energy Astrophysics Division, and the Heineman Prize jointly awarded by the AAS and the American Institute of Physics.

Research Interests

Kouveliotou uses multiple X- and Gamma-ray space observatories to observe the transient high-energy Universe. She started her career studying the most energetic explosions in space, Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs), with the International Sun Earth Explorer-3 soon after their discovery; since then she worked with the Solar Maximum Mission team, and as a co-Investigator of the Burst And Transient Source Experiment on the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory and the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor on the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. She was part of the team who discovered the first optical counterpart of GRBs, which established the cosmological nature of this phenomenon. She is particularly interested in the timing studies of transients, which led her and her team in the observational discovery of pulsations in 1998 from a new kind of neutron star, providing the confirmation of their nature as very highly magnetized sources (magnetars). Kouveliotou is part of several international collaborations, some of which she established herself, who perform multi-wavelength observations and study energetics and radiation mechanisms of high-energy transients.

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