This year, the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School (IPS) Students’ Conference, traditionally merged with the Young Researchers Day for students in the field of chemistry, materials, biochemistry and environment (CMBE Day), was held online for the first time. The conference under the slogan “Science – Tackling challenges of the past for a better future” was first planned to take place in Idrija, a town with a rich heritage, industrial history, and a fruitful collaboration with the IPS. This location also coincided with the lifetime achievement award that was presented to the IPS Dean Prof. Dr. Milena Horvat at the end of last year for her work in the field of mercury.
Unfortunately, the original plans were thwarted due to the global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2. However, the passion for research and innovative spirit of the organisers, members of the IPS Student Council, helped to quickly adapt to the current circumstances. The Student Conference was moved from Idrija to the World Wide Web.
The event brought together postgraduate students from various scientific fields, such as ecotechnologies, nanosciences and nanotechnologies, sensor technologies, information and communication technologies, biotechnologies, medicine and other fields of natural sciences and engineering. More than 40 postgraduate students presented their research work in 3-minute ‘elevator pitch’ presentations. In an interesting and comprehensive way they tried to convince the expert committee and their colleagues of the importance of their research work. At the end of the conference, motivational awards were presented for the best abstract, best presentation, best visual presentation and an award as selected by the audience. Awards were finally presented to Mark Paul S. Rivarez, Mirjana Malnar, Stefan Marković, and Rok Novak.
The school’s mission “Direct integration of research and postgraduate studies to create knowledge and promote innovativeness” was also reflected in the diversity of this year’s contributions. Where else could we learn about the biome diversity in waste waters with infective plant viruses or finding the optimal landing spot on the Moon in one place? At the same time, the organisers emphasise that the conference is a safe environment for discussing breakthrough ideas, it is a place where professors and supervisors can learn about the work of their students, and it is a place of support, tolerance and respectful relations. Finally, they stress that “young individuals possess the power of knowledge and have the duty to make full use of it”.The conference also marks the IPS Day celebrating the opening of the school 16 years ago on 25 May 2004, which was established as an independent higher education institution based on the initiative of the Jožef Stefan Institute and a strong support from the industry (Gorenje, Kolektor, Salonit) and an international network of collaborating universities and institutes from the European Union, USA, Japan and a number of other countries. The Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) provides the central research and educational framework, while invited research, industrial and business organisations also contribute their knowledge and innovative capacities for solving development problems in the IPS as partners. So far, 388 doctoral students and 108 master students completed their studies at the IPS. In the autumn, the IPS will already welcome its 17th generation of students.
The school is proud of its students for presenting their achievements and would like to congratulate all the award winners!