Antigone Nounou studied physics at the University of Athens, high-energy theoretical physics at Imperial College, and philosophy of physics and philosophy of science at the London School of Economics. Prior to her appointment at the Instituted of Neo-hellenic Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, she taught and conducted research at the University of Patras and at the University of Minnesota.
Her research focuses on three, interconnected in her view, topics: foundations of gauge field theories, scientific explanation and scientific understanding, and structuralist approaches to scientific realism.
The ultimate aim of her research in the foundations of gauge field theories is to offer analyses of the concepts and entities involved in these theories that shed light on their ontological status. Gauge field theories are of particular interest because whereas some of the entities involved in them correspond to observable objects and quantities, others, namely the so-called gauge potentials, do not. Hence the question: how are we to interpret gauge potentials and their role so that the resulting interpretation is at the very least consistent with the mathematical formalism of these theories, and the resulting metaphysical picture coheres with other, preset but justified beliefs we may have about the reality that underlies appearances?
In order to address the first part of this question, we have got to make use of rigorous mathematical analyses; but in order to address the second part, we have got to combine the conclusions we've reached using such formal methodological tools with coherent and warranted ideas about scientific explanation and scientific realism. Turning to the notion of scientific explanation, it is her belief that whereas scientific explanations of physical phenomena confer understanding, certain aspects of the scientific understanding we gain over such phenomena is not the result of scientific explanations, but of a rather different use of scientific theories and models. The clear articulation and substantiation of this belief is the aim of the second strand of her research. Her interest in structuralist approaches to scientific realism, on the other hand, is motivated by a hunch: that a clarification of the differentiation between the structural and non-structural aspects of scientific theories and models, if such a differentiation is legitimate of course, may aid us in our search for the reality that underlies appearances; it may help us tell not only whether our belief in the existence of elementary objects is legitimate but also whether gauge potentials deserve a place among the structural and not among the object-like elements of gauge field theories and their models; and it may assist us in telling apart the explanatory elements, in scientific theories and models, from the elements that grant us different kinds of understanding of the world.