I come from the ancient coastal Phoenician city of Tyre, Lebanon. I grew up and did my undergraduate degree in Lebanon. I then traveled to Greece for my master’s degree and Canada for my doctorate degree. I am married to Konstantinos Giannakas, also a faculty at IANR, who I met while pursuing my master’s degree in Greece. We have two children, Ritsa, a freshman at UNL and Christos, a sophomore at East High School.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
I serve as the associate dean in the Agricultural Research Division, and I am a professor of plant ecophysiology in the School of Natural Resources.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?
At first it was the position, specifically the opportunity to work in the Sandhills, a totally new ecosystem for me at that point, as well as the positive environment that the IANR community projected during the initial visit to Lincoln. Twenty years later, we are still at UNL, and we are here by choice! As a member of this community, I am surrounded by great collaborative colleagues and mentors and have been fortunate to meet and interact with talented students and supportive staff. Outside of UNL, Lincoln has become a home for us, we enjoy and value the community, the culture and the many close friendships we have cultivated in the past 20 years.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
There is never a dull moment in academia! To me, it is the curiosity about the complex research challenges and the opportunity to continue to grow professionally and personally through being part of a talented team that moves the mission of IANR forward. I enjoy the ability to work with students and help prepare them for success and the overall positive change we help create for our society.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think one of my important accomplishments has been to develop the ability to balance my academic life with my personal life. Instilling the importance of compassion and empathy in our children has also been important and a priority for us, and I hope we have succeeded.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Well, Lincoln has been the only American city we lived in, and the place that we have lived in the longest!
What is your life like outside of work?
I like to cook and try new recipes. I can sometimes get obsessive about perfecting new ones, for the moment my family is enjoying lots of Pizza Napoletana! Our family also enjoys travel and new experiences. We take short trips during the school year to new places in the United States, and we visit our families and explore Greece and Lebanon in the summer, with short stops along the way.