Birgit completed her tertiary education at the University of Vienna. She has held post-doctoral lectureships at Duke University and at the Simon-Dubnow-Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipzig. Before coming to Melbourne in 2006, she spent three years teaching German language and literature at Oxford University, where she graduated from the Diploma for Teaching in Higher Education.
Birgit has two key research areas: She has published widely on the cultural history of German and Austrian refugees from National Socialism and their acculturation to and impact on the English-speaking world, in particular to Australia. Her second area of expertise lies in the cultural history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the German- and English-speaking worlds. Her most recent investigations in this context concern the early history of autism research.