Born in 1960, Ehrenfreund obtained degrees in Astronomy and Biology at the University of Vienna. She was appointed as a Fellow of the European Space Agency (ESA) at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, upon completion of her doctoral studies. Between 2001 and 2005, Ehrenfreund held a professorship in Astrobiology at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Leiden, where she remains a Visiting Professor today. In addition, between 2005 and 2008 she was a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, USA, which is part of the California Institute of Technology. Further, Ehrenfreund obtained a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership in 2008. Since then, she has been Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, and Lead Investigator at the NASA Astrobiology Institute. She was the first female President of the Austrian Science Fund (2013-2015), from which she stepped down upon her appointment at DLR, where she has been Chair of the Executive Board since 17 August 2015.