Page 63 - Winter 2020
P. 63

 a STEM career. I decided to study electrical engineering at the National Technical University of Athens because it was the most prestigious STEM program in my home- town; the electrical circuits of my childhood may have played a role in my decision! I enjoyed my studies and decided to continue for an MS in electrical engineering in the United States. My high-school years at the American College of Greece had prepared me for this wonderful adventure. I was fortunate to attend the MS program at Duke University (Durham, NC) where I met my advisor, Dimitri Alexandrou, who had a passion for anything that had to do with sound and the ocean. He inspired me, and not only did I complete my MS thesis in ocean acoustic signal processing, but I decided to move forward for a doctorate in the same area.
Research became a passion, which led to an academic career. I have been at NJIT ever since I graduated from Duke, starting as a research assistant professor/postdoc- toral fellow in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. The environment was (and still is) full of energy and a great fit. Soon after I joined, an opening for an assistant professor position came up. It was an easy decision for me to apply and accept the offer that followed. I have been enjoying a fruitful career there ever since. I have had the fortune to meet at Acoustical Society confer- ences colleagues such as Ross Chapman, Alex Tolstoy, Jim Candy, Ed Sullivan, Ellen Livingston, Leon Sibul, Leon Cohen, and many others, who mentored me in my early years and to them I owe much of the satisfaction I have been drawing from my career.
What is a typical day for you?
I am a morning person, and my day starts very early; I am up at 5 a.m. with a cup of coffee, reading The New York Times on my computer. But, other than that, every day is different. Research, teaching, and administration all compete for time. I try to get a good few hours of uninterrupted research time before delving into class
preparation, teaching, and administration. I have fre- quent meetings with my students that I look forward to because they often lead to fresh ideas and perspectives. I draw a firm line at around 6 p.m. Family and personal time start then unless deadlines are looming. Relaxed family dinners, classes at the Adult School of my town, and reading occupy my evenings.
How do you feel when experiments/projects do not work out the way you expected
them to?
I sometimes get frustrated, but I try to take it as a learn- ing experience. I look for the reason behind the failure of an idea. That usually leads to a new idea that is an alternative look at the problem I need to solve. And I try to remind myself that progress in research is not a linear process.
Do you feel like you have solved the work- life balance problem? Was it always
this way?
Yes, as much as this is possible. I have a supportive family and a flexible working environment. Teaching courses at convenient times and having family members help with child care so that I could attend conferences helped me attain a satisfying combination of career and family life. Having a daughter who appreciated my work and enjoyed telling her friends about her mom searching for submarines was a bonus! The flexibility of my work allowed me to get involved in the community. I served as a volunteer for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and unit, and I also volunteered at her elementary school, mostly helping students with math and science. I managed never to miss my daughter’s recitals, choir events, and soccer or volleyball games. I enjoyed travel and still do, attending many conferences, often with my husband and daughter, and I get to visit frequently my family in Greece, where I also enjoy collaborations with colleagues at the National Technical University of Athens.
What makes you a good acoustician?
I work in an applied mathematics and statistics depart- ment in a technological institute that enables me to have discussions and collaborations with researchers from multiple areas in the mathematical and physical sciences as well as engineering. I develop new ideas and a better understanding of acoustics problems after I become exposed to research advances in different disciplines.
And I learn from my students.
How do you handle rejection?
I put aside negative reviews and revisit them a couple of weeks later. I carefully consider critique (sometimes I agree and sometimes not) and try to use it to develop
Spring 2021 • Acoustics Today 63

   61   62   63   64   65