Press Release

NASA Marshall Researcher Dr. Chryssa Kouveliotou Receives 2012 Dannie Heineman Prize in Astrophysics

By SpaceRef Editor
January 29, 2012
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Dr. Chryssa Kouveliotou, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Dannie Heineman prize in astrophysics, jointly awarded each year by the American Institute of Physics and the American Astronomical Society.

The citation for the Heineman prize recognizes Kouveliotou “for her extensive accomplishments and discoveries in the areas of gamma ray bursts and their afterglows, soft gamma ray repeaters and magnetars. The citation particularly mentions her collaborative efforts and “her effectiveness and insights in using multi-wavelength observations.”

The Heineman Prize is named after the late Dannie N. Heineman, a Belgian-American engineer, business executive and philanthropic sponsor of scientific endeavors. The prize was established in 1979 by the Heineman Foundation for Research, Education, Charitable and Scientific Purposes.

“I am very grateful and honored to be recognized by the community with this very important award,” Kouveliotou said. “I am also very pleased to be recognized for building collaborations, which I consider to be an indispensible tool in scientific research today.”

Kouveliotou, a NASA astrophysicist since 2004 and longtime collaborator with the agency’s science mission, has been the principal investigator on numerous research projects in the United States and Europe. She is currently a coinvestigator on the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, an instrument flying aboard the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope; a Swift associated scientist and a member of a NuSTAR Science Topical Team. Over her career she has worked on multiple missions: the International Sun Earth Explorer-3, the Solar Maximum Mission and the Burst And Transient Source Experiment (BATSE), which flew on NASA’s Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory.

Throughout her career, Kouveliotou has made numerous contributions to the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Her research has expanded scientific understanding of fleeting, transient phenomena in the Milky Way galaxy and throughout the high-energy universe. Besides determining the unique properties of the highly energetic emissions from gamma-ray bursts — the brightest and most powerful events in the universe — she 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 – the cinders of stars left over after a supernova – which have incredibly powerful magnetic fields.

A native of Athens, Greece, Kouveliotou received her Ph.D. in 1981 from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. She earned her master’s degree in science from the University of Sussex, England, in 1977, and her bachelor’s degree in physics from the National University of Athens, Greece, in 1975.

Kouveliotou has received many awards for her work, including the Rossi Prize in 2003, the Descartes Prize in 2004 and the NASA Space Act Award in 2005. She has published 368 papers in refereed journals and has been among the top ten most-cited space science researchers in published journals worldwide.

Kouveliotou is a member of multiple international advisory committees, boards, and review panels. She was elected as the Chair of the Division of Astrophysics of the APS, in the Council of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and as the Chair of the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the AAS. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS.

For more information about gamma-ray astronomy and other space science research conducted at the Marshall Center, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.