NASA astrophysicist Chryssa Kouveliotou, a senior scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has been selected for membership in the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research.
Kouveliotou, a longtime leading researcher in NASA’s space science mission, conducts extensive research on a host of astronomical phenomena including black holes, neutron stars and gamma-ray bursts. She is one of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries recently announced as members.
“I salute the National Academy of Sciences for their recognition of the groundbreaking scientific contributions that Dr. Kouveliotou has made in the field of high energy astrophysics,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Her work in expanding our knowledge of the nature of cosmic gamma-ray bursts, and her broad efforts in the service of science are exemplary of the creativity, collaboration and innovation that are hallmarks of a great scientist. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to her, and am confident that she will continue to do great science and serve the nation as a member of the academy.”
Kouveliotou, who joined NASA in 2004, has been the principal investigator on numerous research projects in the United States and Europe. Currently, she is a co-investigator on the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, an instrument flying aboard the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope; an associated scientist on Swift, a multi-wavelength observatory dedicated to the study of gamma-ray burst science; and a member of the NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) science team, researching topics that investigate the most powerful explosions in the universe. Throughout her career, she has worked on a succession of vital NASA research missions, including the International Sun Earth Explorer-3, the Solar Maximum Mission and the Burst and Transient Source Experiment, which flew on NASA’s Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory.
Her numerous contributions to the fields of astronomy and astrophysics have expanded scientific understanding of fleeting, transient phenomena in the Milky Way galaxy and throughout the universe. Besides determining the unique properties of the highly energetic emissions from gamma-ray bursts – the brightest and most powerful cosmic events ever documented – Kouveliotou was part of the team which first revealed the extragalactic nature of these sources. She and her team made the first confirmed detection of ultra-dense neutron stars called magnetars, which are the cinders of stars left over after a supernova.
A native of Athens, Greece, Kouveliotou has received numerous awards for her work. In 2012 alone, she earned the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential people in space.