Eleni Antoniadou, the 31-year-old woman who was honoured for her work as a “‘world-leading scientist and NASA researcher” by becoming the first ‘Greek Barbie’, has now come under scrutiny and is being accused of having made false claims about her education and work experience, including her employment with Nasa.
Over the last decade, Antoniadou has received many awards and accolades and was hailed as one of Greece’s youngest leading scientists.
However, Antoniadou’s integrity has been questioned this week with members of the scientific community claiming that many of her credentials are false and go as far as to say she has never held a position at Nasa or won one of its awards.
The tip-off came earlier this month when Greek Education Minister Niki Kerameus handed Antoniadou an award for her contribution to science. The Minister also posted a photo on her Facebook page with a quote from Antoniadou: “You can become whatever you are dreaming of.”
A number of Greek scientists, including Greek professor Costas Bouyioukos, who teaches at a French university, decided to research Antoniadou’s work history and discovered many discrepancies.
Bouyioukos took to social media posting his findings and stating, “She is not even fit to be called a scientist for most people.” This led to many more accusations from other academics who are defending Bouyioukos’ allegations.
Greek Hoaxes, a Greek fact-checking website that cracks down on fake news also put together a list, which questions Antoniadou’s work experience. The organisation says she has only attended a 10-week summer school at Nasa and has not been working there for a number of years as a researcher. Nasa has been contacted and they deny she works directly for the agency but has not excluded the possibility that she may be working as a sub-contractor.
The scientist also calls herself a PhD, whereas Greek Hoaxes says she only holds two postgraduate titles.
Antoniadou has been contacted by media for statements but has refused to comment. However, on Tuesday, she issued an announcement on her Facebook page, insisting she had been working for Nasa, and she also denied trying to compete with older academics.
Μικρά βήματα στον χώρο της έρευνας γίνονται με συνεχή προσπάθεια, επιμονή και υπομονή. Κάθε μέρα συνεχίζω να μαθαίνω με…
“Every day I continue to learn by participating in simple or more complicated projects, like that of AI at Nasa with which I’m involved lately,” she wrote.
“For me, the goal was never to compete with academia or compare my first steps in science as a new researcher with people who have been around for decades. At the end of the day, the important thing is to work always collaboratively, by helping the people around you go forward and not to go a step downwards,” says the post, which also includes a photo of the “Award of Merit.”
*Update (23/9/19) – Antoniadou has now deleted her Facebook account and social media pages.