Despina attended Imperial College London where she earned her Masters in Science in Physics, with First Class Honors, in the Spring of 1999. She continued her education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor receiving her Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering in 2001. After a brief period of employment outside academia, she enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin in the Fall of 2004, where she completed her PhD degree in the field of High Energy Density Physics under the supervision of Professor Todd Ditmire. During the last three years of her graduate work, Despina was employed by the Materials Science and Technology Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she conducted the majority of her PhD research. Since 2010, she is a staff scientist at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, examining the behavior of materials at extreme conditions using optical and x-ray diagnostics, as well as supporting user research in the Coherent X-ray Imaging instrument of LCLS.