Katerina Aifantis: Ahead of Her Time

'I got a degree at 19, PhD at 21'

Katerina Aifantis is passionate about science. She passed her degree at 19, and was awarded a PhD in natural sciences and mathematics at the age of 21.

Her studies took her from Michigan Tech in the US, to Cambridge University, UK, and then to the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Katerina Aifantis got her PhD with Prof. Dr. Jeff Th.M. De Hosson at Dept. Applied Physics, University of Groningen, The Netherlands on April 18th 2005.

When she was a child, Katerina Aifantis wanted to understand the work of her father, Elias, who today is a professor of mechanics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and at Michigan Technological University (MTU) in the United States. "I really wanted to find out what he was doing, and he wasn't telling me," she says today. All he would say was, "'You will find out when you grow up,'" she recalls.
At 16, she was given the opportunity to enrol at Michigan Tech by her High School principal. She passed her degree in engineering at 19, then went to Cambridge University in the UK for her PhD. She was supervised by the applied mathematician, Professor John Willis.

"He let me go straight ahead into research instead of making me take courses and following the traditional path," she says.

Although she finished her dissertation within a year, she was unable to submit for a PhD at Cambridge because rules stipulate a minimum of three years of study.

"John Willis and I thought that I could transfer to a different university in Europe that has no time requirements," she explains.
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