Sylvain Guiriec, assistant professor of physics at the George Washington University, participated in the arrival ceremony for President Emmanuel Macron of France Monday afternoon. He also will meet with Mr. Macron after his speech at the French embassy.
Dr. Guiriec has been an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since 2011. His research centers on modeling gamma ray bursts—intense cosmic explosions that Dr. Guiriec calls “the footprint of newly-formed stellar mass black holes”—and developing a metric for using them as standard candles for cosmology.
In 2017, he received the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, one of the highest distinctions NASA can offer to a non-citizen of the United States.
The White House reached out to Dr. Guiriec a few days before Mr. Macron’s visit asking him to attend the ceremony, and the French embassy sent him a letter on Mr. Macron’s behalf asking him to meet briefly after Mr. Macron’s speech.
Dr. Guiriec said he believes he received the invitation both because of his involvement with NASA and the American astrophysics community and because he is one of only a few French scientists to have received a federal distinction.
“Also, since I received my NASA medal, I have been regularly contacted by the Embassy of France to participate in scientific discussions and events,” Dr. Guiriec said.
“I started to create tighter connections with the embassy team in order to build new links with GW and to establish new common programs,” he said. “My visibility in the community has been significantly increasing during the past months, and I guess that is the reason why I received the invitation to briefly meet with President Macron after his speech to the French community.”