University of Primorska Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies
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Our first 10 years

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Our first 10 years


Assoc. Prof. Klavdija Kutnar, PhD
UP FAMNIT Dean

The first ten years of being active in tertiary education represents a short period for a relatively small faculty. However, the tenth anniversary also represents an important milestone and the time when it is necessary to assess whether the development of the faculty is oriented in the right direction. Today, exactly ten years after the foundation of FAMNIT, we are pleased to reap the fruits of all our efforts. The faculty is recognized both at the national and international level. Thanks to the interdisciplinary education they acquire, our graduates successfully continue their studies at foreign universities, they are successful in international competitions, they receive awards, they are recognized in different areas and they create their own place in the labour market. At the same time, national and international companies are showing an increasing interest in them.

Our teachers and researchers are also recognized in the international environment, either through their own research and teaching or within the framework of projects they devise and implement in cooperation with prestigious higher education institutions around the world. All of us who believe in our faculty are extremely proud of all of these results, as they represent the evidence that in the first decade we have fulfilled our role and mission with excellence.

My sincere thanks and gratitude to all of you who have contributed to the development of the Faculty: the heads of departments, programme coordinators, professors and researchers, students and graduates. Your work is often hard and sometimes not outwardly visible, but our achievements confirm that we are working well and in the right direction.

We are entering our second decade with high expectations and criteria. In front of us is a new chapter with important challenges and, like the world around us, we will have to develop quickly and efficiently. Our goals remain oriented towards teaching and research excellence and recognition in the national and international environment. We can reach these goals only by collaboration with established institutions, exchange of experts and teachers, integration with the economy and active involvement in the local and wider, national environment.

 

You are worth as much as the size of the intersection you aretop

Interview with Full Professor Dragan Marušič, PhD, the first dean of UP FAMNIT and current Rector of the University of Primorska

FAMNIT is the youngest faculty at the University of Primorska, but the idea of its creation dates back several decades ...

The story of the Faculty began in 1990, when some of us started thinking about a university in the Primorska region. Within this group, among those who are still active today, are myself and prof. Tomaž Pisanski. For some years we developed various plans and later prepared a study of how the university should look, which included the faculty of mathematics and computer science. Why? Because computer sciences and mathematics represent the ideal interdisciplinary programmes. Mathematics is a classic science that will exist as long as there is humanity, because we will always have to solve and quantify problems of regularities and irregularities in an abstract perspective. Computer science is a new science, that in the future might be different from today, but it is a necessary condition for the functioning of this [modern] society, since its foundation is in its technological structure.

A few years later, in 2000, we officially introduced our plan. At that time we encountered the reality of the situation [when] the Council for Higher Education required us to meet a number of personnel, space and other conditions. For this reason, we came up with another idea, to bring mathematics and computer science to the Primorska region through the existing unit of the Ljubljana Faculty of Education located in Koper. It turned out that this decision was not only a good one, but was even farsighted, seeing as the study programme Mathematics and Computer Science in Koper was launched [soon after] in the academic year 2001–2002. In this way we killed two birds with one stone: we set the foundations for two new study programmes and at the same time we allowed for the creation of the University of Primorska. The condition for its creation was the establishment of two faculties within the university, and the condition for a faculty were two university study programmes. At that time only two faculties met these conditions: the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Education. The latter became a faculty because it had two university study programmes: Elementary Education and Mathematics and Computer Science. Therefore, without our programme, the university would have been established later...

The beginning of the programme, known as MARA (Mathematics and Computer Science) was, therefore, a prelude to the foundation of a new faculty.

In the first year we had 45 students enrolled, some of whom are now employed at FAMNIT or at our university. The entire time, we wanted to establish a programme of pure mathematics and computer science, but because the procedures for accreditation of a new programme and the establishment of a new faculty are equally complex, in 2005 we decided for the latter. In the spring of the next year, we submitted the application to the Council for Higher Education of the Republic of Slovenia and in June it was accepted. I remember the day very well when prof. Brodnik and I were waiting in the parliament for its final approval by the National Assembly. It was the 20th of December, 2006.

You mentioned prof. Brodnik and prof. Pisanski, who else were among those working on this project?

It really was a big project, which is why many people worked on it. Among the mathematicians were: Boštjan Frelih, Klavdija Kutnar, Bojan Kuzma, Gorazd Lah, Štefko Miklavič and Boris Zgrablić. Then there were also the computer scientists: Branko Kavšek, Matjaž Kljun, Tine Mezgec, Iztok Savnik, Tine Šukljan, Denis Trček and Jernej Vičič. We worked on it intensively and in 2007 we enrolled the first students. At the first level there were 53 computer scientists and 18 mathematicians.

Why was it so important for a young university to acquire a faculty of natural science?

Each university must have balanced areas, and the establishment of the faculty of natural sciences was the expressed wish of the former rector Lucija Čok, PhD. We wanted a faculty of mathematics and computer sciences, because we wanted to develop this area in line with the Anglo-Saxon model. In Slovenia, computer sciences was established at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Ljubljana and is related to engineering; we were focused on the theoretical part that [internationally] is known as Computer Science and is connected to mathematics. As I have already said, the establishment of a faculty is very complicated - we have to bear in mind that FAMNIT is the only faculty that was founded in the last 10 years – all the other members of the university have just converted from independent institutions to faculties – for that reason we finally decided on a faculty which would also encompass Natural Sciences. Gradually we launched the other programmes: in 2008 biodiversity, Mediterranean agriculture and marine biology, then mathematics in economy and finance and bioinformatics, and in 2010, biopsychology.

What was the response to the establishment of the faculty of natural science in the Coastal region?

In academic circles – especially in Ljubljana – there were some doubts, but the local region accepted the new faculty very well. In general, during the first years the majority were enthusiastic about the development of the young university. By establishing new study fields, new opportunities have opened for development and we established relations with segments of [society], which prior to that were not well connected with the university.

Until your election to the position of rector of the University of Primorska in 2011 you were the dean of FAMNIT. Those were the years of the above-mentioned opening of new programmes and the expansion of both study and research areas. What kind of atmosphere prevailed at the faculty at that time?

The period was something special: I remember countless pleasant moments. All the colleagues had good relationships, performed in a unified way, and we felt almost like family. We were pervaded with enthusiasm mainly because we started a new story and we have been establishing new standards of research.

Was the initial vision of the faculty different from today’s? Did you set goals that were too ambitious during the period of general enthusiasm?

The initial vision was not significantly different from today's. Set goals were achieved, but in many areas, we also achieved much more. Ten years ago I did not even dare to imagine that, for example, the faculty would organize the European Congress of Mathematics in 2020, or that so many distinguished lecturers and researchers would want to cooperate with us. In Slovenia there are not many faculties where professors from countries where wages are significantly higher, would like to be employed. They want to come to our faculty because of the large flow of visiting professors, which is an academic perspective, and the best condition for »developing science«.

In the world of scientific research, you are worth as much as the size of the intersection you represent. In other words, you can measure your impact by how well you are able to bring people on different paths together. Today at Famnit some areas are highly developed and if someone comes to us, even if there are no other guests, they have a lot of people to work with. However, if someone else comes, we already have a small conference.

In addition to the new standards of research you are accelerating your work on the creation of interdisciplinary programmes. Today at Famnit all study programmes are like that, and this represents a novelty in Slovenia.

The reason for such a decision is a bug in our system of higher education. With the Bologna reforms, Slovenia has moved away from the old system and in some ways, such as credit points, has come closer to the Anglo-Saxon system, but has not fully adopted it. In the Anglo-Saxon system students enroll in grades and not in a programme: this means that every individual, in real time, creates their own programme and selects the subjects which will lead them to their desired goal. At Famnit, students must take compulsory subjects and because there are limited possibilities for elective subjects, we decided for an interdisciplinary approach. A good example of such a programme is bioinformatics, which represents the intersection between mathematics, computer science, biology, and biopsychology which brings together psychology and biology. In general, I think that even some other study programmes should contain elements of computer science as well. In today's world, when it is necessary to process a plurality of unrelated data, the graduates with these skills are more competent in their work.

Do the graduates have the same opinion?

Their feedback confirms this. For example, graduates of biodiversity, bioinformatics and biopsychology – both those who have remained in Slovenia and those who have continued their path abroad say that computer and mathematical concepts come in handy: both in their studies and research, as well as at work.

Today as rector of the University of Primorska, how do you feel about the Faculty?

This is my home faculty. Some accuse me that it is more privileged than other faculties, but actually it is underprivileged, as I promptly censure myself, precisely because of that [connection]. FAMNIT is the embodiment of the saying, »the smith's mare is always barefoot«, as it is the only Faculty without its own building – all other faculties have better facilities. Therefore, during my mandate I would like to solve this open issue.

For the end, a personal thought: in which direction do you want FAMNIT to develop in the next decade?

I wish for the faculty to further strengthen its position in the world, where today its success is resounding, mainly due to the advancement of research. Talking about research performance, I would also like for the number of students to increase. 

 

UP FAMNIT todaytop

On its 10th anniversary, UP FAMNIT is a faculty successful in research and teaching. It has excellent and prestigious international connections, established engagement with Slovenian higher education and research institutions, interdisciplinary study programmes, and a network of companies that actively cooperate with its researchers and students.

The faculty covers diverse research areas, with notable success  in the field of algebraic graph theory, where we are placed among the top institutions in the world. In collaboration with the Andrej Marušič Institute of the University of Primorska (UP IAM), the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Slovenia and the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Mechanics from Ljubljana, we publish the international mathematical journal: Ars Mathematica Contemporanea (AMC). AMC is ranked in the first quarter of journals in the field according to 2015 impact factors. Year after year we are growing in other research areas as well, making UP FAMNIT the most successful faculty in research at the University of Primorska.

The faculty works closely with UP IAM. In 2008 they signed a memorandum of mutual cooperation in their areas of common interest. Together they perform research, and organise and attend international activities through joint conferences and international summer schools. We are connected through organisational efforts as well, offering the professional services of the faculty and the Institute, and establishing the shared TeMeNa library, opened in 2008. TeMeNa is a university library for technology, medicine, and science jointly operated by UP FAMNIT and UP IAM. Together we invest in the Scholarship fund of the University of Primorska to provide improved study opportunities for our students with the best academic achievements.

In 2016, UP IAM started the process of transforming the doctoral school; after the transformation the doctoral programmes of the faculty will be implemented within the framework of the doctoral school.

UP FAMNIT Study areas

The faculty offers study programmes in the following study areas (KLASIUS P):

  • (31) Social Science (Psychology)
  • (42) Life sciences
  • (46) Mathematics and statistics
  • (48) Computer science
  • (52) Technology
  • (62) Agriculture, forestry, fishery
  • (81) Personal services
  • (85) Environmental Protection

The diverse scientific fields our teachers and researchers investigate are the basis for many areas of study offered by our faculty and allow us to create and implement interdisciplinary study programmes. The value of interdisciplinary skills is increasingly recognized by employers, especially in open and innovative working environments. Employers cooperate with our students in projects, or they meet with students during the study practice [work experience].

In the 2016/17 academic year, 760 students were enrolled in our 18 study programmes and 12% of our students are international. Increasing interest in our study programmes from foreign students led us to create and offer several study programmes in English. For the third consecutive year, we have conducted study programmes in mathematics, both in the Slovene and English languages. Beginning in the 2017/18 academic year, we will offer a new programme in English: our undergraduate programme in computer science and informatics.

Academic programmes 2016/17

Undergraduate (3 years, 180 ECTS) Master (2 years, 120 ECTS) Doctoral (3 years, 180 ECTS)

Students and Graduates

Number of students in 2016/17: 760
  • undergraduate: 558
  • master's: 176
  • doctoral: 26
Composition of students according to gender:
  • women: 498 (65 %)
  • men: 273 (35 %)
Number of graduates (data on 30 November 2016): 447
  • undergraduate: 366
  • master's: 62
  • doctoral: 19

The faculty has been an incubator for new study programmes at the university. UP FAMNIT grants them organizational autonomy to develop the programme and build a strong foundation. For example, UP FAMNIT has implemented a complete study programme in applied kinesiology at all three levels. Beginning in the 2016/17 academic year, the Applied Kinesiology study programme became independent, as intended since 2009.

The Faculty contributes significantly to the operations of the university as well. The natural science study programmes we offer contribute substantive balance and greater diversity to the University’s overall range of subjects. UP FAMNIT and UP IAM also jointly operate the Centre for Design and Application Development, which provides and develops modern IT solutions for the entire university.

Our team consists of 125 university professors, fellows, and researchers, which are grouped into five departments, and 20 professional, technical, and administrative staff. We are pleased to be able to gradually expand our study programmes and to participate in a growing number of research projects. Each year our faculty grows, and we increase the percentage of fully employed teachers and research fellows. We employ an increasing number of international researchers, teachers, and professors, too; as of the 2016/17 academic year 11% of have come to us from abroad.

Employement in 2016/17

Number of employees and percentage of employment:

  • University professors, fellows and researchers:  125 (63,53 FTE*)
  • Administrative and technical staff: 20 (16,66 FTE)

* FTE = full time equivalent

Gender Structure of Employees:
University professors, fellows, and researchers:

  • men: 76 (60,80%)
  • women: 49 (39,20%)

Administrative and technical staff:

  • women: 16 (80%)
  • men: 4 (20%)

Age structure of employees:

31-40 62
41-50 36
51-60 13
61-70 7
71 and more 0
Total 145

We are proud of the achievements of our students. They are active and successful in both their studies and extracurricular fields, participate in the tutoring system, achieve success in domestic and international academic competitions, and contribute significantly to the promotion of the faculty at home and abroad. Through their representation in faculty bodies and committees, they contribute to key decision-making processes on behalf of all students. Students in the Academic Assembly of the faculty vote on and contribute to decisions in the election of senators and dean of the faculty.


Our student-tutors 2015/16 (October 2016)

The tenth year of operation brought significant changes to the faculty. The University Campus Livade in Izola, Slovenia, opened its doors to students and staff. The new building has state-of-the-art lecture rooms, laboratories, and equipment. Since February 2016 several UP FAMNIT study and research programmes have been housed at the new building.. 

The head office of the faculty remains in the old town of Koper, where we operate in well-organized but mostly rented premises. Throughout the heart of Koper’s city centre, the faculty operates in 2,500 m² (some shared with UP IAM in joint service). UP FAMNIT operates 640 m² at the new campus building in Izola. The faculty and university are in the process of taking ownership of buildings in Koper to simplify operations and improve student and faculty life. 

In spite of space limitations, our students are provided with study spaces, which can be used every working day, from early in the morning till late in the evening. We provide additional space to the Student Council of the faculty that can be used by all students seven days a week (24/7).

University Campus Livade 2016/17

High-tech equipment on the University campus Livade in Izola facilitates applied research in the fields of biodiversity, agriculture and food, gastronomy, bioinformatics, health, urban planning, ergonomics, environmental technologies, and renewable materials.

The new building at the University campus Livade has allowed us to expand our diverse range of activities intended to popularise the natural sciences and make them more accessible to pupils, their teachers, mentors, and the general public.

Our summer camps for primary and secondary schools are well attended, as well as mathematical days for primary schools, and natural science days for secondary schools. Since 2011 we have participated in the organization of national mathematics and biology competitions for secondary schools.

For the general public, we prepare thematic and non-technical lectures, which are open to all interested individuals, including "excursions into to the mathematical universe" and biology evenings. These events have already acquired enthusiastic regular visitors, and every year new visitors join the events. 

Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, UP FAMNIT has fulfilled its original mission of education and research at a higher education institution, which is involved in international and local environmentals.


The Biology Research Camp in the Slovenian Istria that is exclusive to secondary schools (July 2016), and co-organized by the Department of Biodiversity at UP FAMNIT and the Association for Technical Culture of Slovenia. The event took place on the grounds of University campus Livade in Izola.

 

Embedded in the environmenttop

At Luka Koper are aware of the impacts of the port on the environment; for that reason we are committed to sound environmental management in our business policy . Professional monitoring and management of the above-mentioned impacts is carried out in cooperation with the competent institutions; among them are the UP FAMNIT and Andrej Marušič  Institute of the University of Primorska, with whom we have developed a fruitful cooperation. Their researchers conduct measurements of air and sea quality in the port, and our co-workers are also co-authors in scientific publications by researchers of the Faculty and the Institute. Cooperation is also developed within the framework of teaching, as students of UP FAMNIT, in their final projects, address the challenges we face in our work in Luka Koper. Luka Koper also contributes to the Scholarship Fund of the University of Primorska.
We believe that this form of cooperation with scientific institutions is crucial: for that reason we want to continue a sustainable and responsible economic development oriented towards the environment where we live.


Stojan Čepar, Member of the management board of Luka Koper d.d. – Workers’ Director

Among the fundamental objectives of the faculty is integration with the local and wider environment, particularly with the economy but also with social, educational and other socially active organizations and institutions - the users of knowledge.

Ambitious mathematicians, financial mathematicians and experts in the field of information technology are currently the most sought-after profile group of major companies operating in the field of the new economy, insurance and banking. For this reason, I believe that graduates of FAMNIT, with their freshness, ideas and dynamism are a promising personnel, that has a great potential for development in the field of banking.

Igor Kragelj,
Vice-President of the Management Board of Banka Koper d. d.

We connect with the economy through research and development projects, and also in cooperation with the Andrej Marušič Institute of the University of Primorska, where most of our teachers and researchers are included in projects.

Students establish their first contacts with the economy and other users of knowledge while at the faculty, both through the obligatory study practice as well as within individual subjects where established experts are included from the beginning. They present to the students the key challenges faced in their work, and the students study them through developing seminar papers and final projects, in close cooperation with organizations - future employers.

For the implementation of compulsory practices [work experience] in the study programmes, the Faculty has signed cooperation agreements with approximately 150 companies, institutes and various organizations where our students gain additional knowledge, competencies and skills.

In a technologically advanced company such as Dinit, which is focused on the development of new technological solutions in the field of card business, the quality and professional competence of the employees [we select] is crucial for success in research and other projects. An in-depth knowledge and understanding of computer science and information technology, the ability to use appropriate knowledge and plan advanced solutions, a systematic way of working and the ability to solve complex technical problems are just some of the common features the graduates from FAMNIT demonstrated when working for us. From the employer's point of view, we believe that the University successfully carries out its mission as an educational institution in transferring knowledge in the field of mathematics, science and information technology, and significantly contributes to the formation of high quality and advanced science-technical personnel.

Valentina Knap, Head of Personnel Service at Dinit d. o. o.

Since 2008, many companies, aware of the importance of cooperation with the university, have invested in the Scholarship Fund of the University of Primorska, which supports the most successful and most motivated students in obtaining excellent academic results, while also helping them to gain better knowledge of their future employees and implement what they have learned during work experience.

UP Scholarship Fund has already awarded a total of 287 scholarships, of which 135 were granted to students from UP FAMNIT.

A significant contribution to the integration of students into the world of the economy is represented by the project A creative way to practical knowledge of the Slovene Human Resources and Scholarship Fund. In the years 2014 and 2015, UP FAMNIT implemented 17 interdisciplinary projects, in which over 100 students and 18 partner institutions - companies and public institutions - were involved. Among them is the Agricultural Cooperative Agraria, with whom we successfully carried out the project Examination of development opportunities and production of a design solution for the establishment of the Purissima Centre.


The Garden from Primorska - a great example of cooperation between industry and science

We are pleased to share our vision and modern technology in the cultivation of vegetables and fruit with the students of Mediterranean agriculture. The students work diligently, professionally and responsibly; in particular, they are aware of the importance of the production of safe and healthy food in an environmentally friendly manner. They recognize the advantages of both modern and traditional farming, and for that reason we are not concerned anymore that agriculture in Istria will die. In our company the students of FAMNIT gain a lot of experience in the field of production technology, marketing, and responsibilities in working processes and of the employer – after such practical training, both the student and the employer conclude further cooperation in an easier way. In the last two years, we have employed three students of the above-mentioned study programme -in view of that, our cooperation with the faculty is of great importance for us.

Patricia Pirnat, Head of cooperative production at Agricultural Cooperative Agraria Koper

Today the project represents a success story of cooperation between industry and science. Currently, the Centre for the development of coastal agriculture Purissima is dedicated to holders of allotments, professional growers and young individuals who are still learning about farming. The faculty and the cooperative have found in it additional opportunities to cooperate in the development of new technologies of production, education and scientific research, with a view to promote and develop the agricultural profession. In 2015 they were partners in the project, and together with the newspaper Primorske novice, they were initiators of the action The Garden from Primorska – in Sobota, the weekly supplement of Primorske novice, the experts of the Agricultural Cooperative Agraria, in collaboration with our teachers and students of the study programme Mediterranean agriculture, provided advice for gardening and at the same time jointly cultivated The Garden from Primorska at Purissima.

The action had a tremendous response and consequently in 2015 received the Prometej prize for excellence and communication in science, which is awarded every year by the Slovene Science Foundation. The action continues today and opens up the possibilities for further joint projects.

Our society has been present in Primorska from its beginning in 1979. Gradually we became the largest non-governmental conservation organization in Slovenia, and one of the most important results of our work is visible immediately upon arrival in Koper – Škocjanski zatok Nature Reserve. The path to this and other achievements was difficult and a key element of our work is knowledge and awareness of biodiversity. We are pleased that in the last decade we gained a powerful ally – the University of Primorska, especially FAMNIT where they implement study programmes that are very important for our cooperation: biodiversity and nature conservation. Our cooperation is multifaceted and fruitful: together we have conducted research and drawn attention to the value of the dry grasslands above the Kras edge and northern Adriatic wetlands, as well as preparing new projects that will address the most pressing conservation problems of the Primorska region. Students are included in our work through the study practice and cooperation in bachelor and master's theses, but we also organize field trips, where we demonstrate nature conservation practices from Ormož Basins Nature Reserve.
Our experience with the students of UP is extremely positive, because they are enthusiastic and motivated. In nature conservation, more and more job positions will be needed, and this will improve the employability of [UP] graduates who will have the appropriate knowledge. Therefore, we hope that our cooperation will be as long and equally successful as in the last decade!

Dr. Primoz Kmecl, Head of Protection and ornithological sector at the Society for Observation and Study of Birds of Slovenia - DOPPS

From the desire to introduce our work to the general public, we have created programmes and activities aimed at the popularization of science, especially natural science. Among primary and secondary school pupils, summer research camps in mathematics and biology, computer workshops and science days, are extremely popular. For teachers and school mentors we organize an all-day meeting at the coast, and for the general public we organize non-technical lectures and evenings as Famnit excursions into the mathematical universe, Famnit biology evenings and Seminar on the history of mathematics.

OUR ACTIVITIES:
… for primary and high schools:
  • Summer camp Math is cool
  • Natural science and biology research camps
  • ORADA - computer workshop
  • Mathematical Advent calendar
  • Mathematical day
  • Natural Science day in the Slovenian Istria
…for the general public:
  • Famnit biology evenings
  • Famnit excursions into the mathematical universe
  • Seminar on the History of Mathematics

 

Excellence in research leads to excellence in teachingtop

In the first 10 years UP FAMNIT exceeded the research objectives that were set when it was established. Among the most important achievements are:

  • In 2008 the Ars Mathematica Contemporanea journal was founded, which now ranks in the top quarter of SCI mathematics journals
  • In 2009 UP FAMNIT researcher Dr. Aljaž Ule published an article in the most prestigious international scientific journal - Science
  • Among our employees three were awarded the Zois Award and one the Zois Certificate of Recognition
  • We implement two research programmes and a number of research projects
  • We exceeded the University of Primorska goal of "publishing on average one scientific publication annually per employee," which is a key aspect of the university’s medium-term development strategy for 2014-2020
  • The faculty represents one of four world centres in the field of algebraic graph theory
  • We participate in a 45-million-euro project - the first European project coordinated by the University of Primorska – for the creation of the Centre of Excellence for research and innovation in the field of renewable materials and healthy living environment (InnoRenew CoE)

These accomplishments, amongst others, have made FAMNIT the most successful faculty at the University of Primorska for several years. Scientific research productivity at the University is measured according to the following indicators: number of Sicris points, number of normalized WOS citations, number of SCI, SSCI and AHCI publications, number of publications in Nature and Science, research revenue from commercial sources and international scientific research projects, and the number of awards received from the Republic of Slovenia for scientific and research work.

Scientific and research success is also the reason for the faculty’s strong financial sustainability. The University of Primorska supports excellence in scientific research by dividing a part of the overall budget among the member faculties on the basis of the above criteria.

Our researchers work within the Research Group of UP FAMNIT, but have an established and close cooperative relationship with the Andrej Marušič Institute of the University of Primorska, where the majority of our university teachers and academic fellows perform their research.

UP FAMNIT’s teaching and research staff grew considerably in 2016 after taking on professors and researchers from the Science and Research Centre of the University of Primorska (UP ZRS). This, together with the acquisition of modern laboratory facilities at the first floor of the campus Livade in Izola in February 2016, establishes an excellent basis for further development and potential breakthroughs in these areas of research.

UP FAMNIT will continue to work towards its objectives and achieving its overall vision: we will try to double the number of scientific publications in international scientific journals (or achieve at least one among all university teachers), reaching, on average, at least two scientific publications yearly, to increase the share of scientific publications in the most high-profile international scientific journals, and achieve an extensive number of publications in scientific monographs with the most prestigious international publishers.
 

During the First World War on the Russian front the German physicist Karl Schwarzschild, at the time seriously ill, wrote three research articles and found the first nontrivial solution of system equations of Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes a stationary black hole. Schwarzschild was a textbook example of a researcher, for whom solving the problem is so tempting that he completely ignores the world around him.
The driving force of each researcher is the desire to discover the unknown and the commitment to the work we are trying to transmit to the students, because an abundance of  knowledge is a good starting point for furthering their careers. The employees at the faculty are working hard to make our graduates successful even after leaving the faculty and continuing their life elsewhere. We are proud of every success they achieve, be it in the context of employment or in the academic and research field, both at home and abroad.

Assist. Prof. Marko Orel, PhD - Vice-dean for scientific research at UP FAMNIT

The faculty that breathes internationallytop

UP FAMNIT actively opens its educational and scientific activities to the international community, including foreign students, professors and researchers. We not only follow the trends of international cooperation, but also contribute to their creation. In the last ten years, we have established friendships and collaborations with researchers and institutions from nearly 60 countries. As of our 10th anniversary, nearly 12% of the students enrolled in our study programmes are foreign students. Almost 11% of our teachers and researchers come from abroad.

Our faculty’s extensive network of research links with foreign universities allows UP FAMNIT to host a growing number of visiting researchers each year (currently about 50). Our teachers and researchers actively participate in international scientific meetings, including as keynote speakers, and they also lecture and undertake research at foreign universities as visiting professors and researchers. Numerous joint scientific publications result from this active international network.

We currently implement 31 bilateral projects, are involved in four Erasmus + projects and two projects co-financed by the Horizon 2020 programme. We coordinate two COST actions (COST = European Cooperation in Science and Technology), and our researchers are involved in 10 further COST actions.

The faculty regularly organises conferences and scientific meetings with a wide international participation, as well as international summer schools (e.g. the traditional Doctoral Summer School in discrete mathematics held at Rogla). We partner with other institutions, particularly from the USA, to organize joint summer schools for students (in 2017 we are organizing our third joint summer school with Oregon State University).

One of the faculty’s most important accomplishments is the international scientific journal, Ars Mathematica Contemporanea (AMC), published by the faculty in collaboration with the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Slovenia and the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Mechanics from Ljubljana. In 2015, the journal ranked among the top quarter of journals in the field of mathematics with the highest impact factor (IF 0.985). Since its inception, the journal has provided strong international recognition and helped to develop the faculty’s international network.

The faculty provides our students with a wide range of exchange programmes. Erasmus + provides students with the greatest mobility, and has been used successfully for exchanges with non-programme countries as well. We successfully draw funds from other programmes (bilateral grants, scholarships from other countries, the Erasmus Mundus scholarships - SUNBEAM programme, scholarship funds from the NFM and EEA financing mechanisms, etc.). Furthermore, we encourage student initiatives, especially when they independently find internships abroad. If their activities abroad have been properly coordinated within their UP study programme, after returning to Slovenia, these are recognized as part of their degree requirements.

In recent years, there has been a steady increase of foreigners interested in studying with us. This is particularly notable in the study programme in mathematics and computer science, but there is also more and more interest for other courses. In the academic year 2016/17, 91 foreigners, representing 12% of all students, were enrolled at UP FAMNIT.

Academic year % (and number) of enrolled foreign students
2016/17 11,97% (91)
2015/16 9,34% (72)
2014/15 7,63% (61)
2013/14 6,70% (52)
2012/13 4,29% (30)
2011/12 4,83% (27)
2010/11 3,12% (13)
2009/10 5,53% (13)
2008/09 5,21% (10)
2007/08 7,14% (9)

  The addition of a parallel programme in mathematics delivered in English in the 2014/15 academic year was a key step towards broadening our internationalization efforts. In response to the growing interest among foreigners in studying computer science at UP FAMNIT, an English language study programme will be offered beginning in the 2017/18 academic year.

The faculty’s international involvement extends to doctoral and post-doctoral training for foreigners. In recent years, the faculty has had a growing number of foreign students attend postdoctoral training (from Poland, Slovakia, Canada, China, and the United States). Half of the 14 young researchers at UP FAMNIT and UP IAM are foreigners and they are all involved in the teaching process at the university.  

 

The faculty’s international integration was made possible in a large part thanks to the European Social Fund project “UP AND THE WORLD", which took place in the years 2014 and 2015. Over 18 months, we hosted 198 lecturers from 37 countries and 5 continents (Europe, North America, South America , Asia, Australia and Oceania). While 41 foreign lecturers participated in the study programme, others lectured at one of the 13 international conferences that we organized and which were attended by over 800 participants.

 

Full time foreign students Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Croatia, Iran, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, and the United States.
Study exchanges – incoming and outgoing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Employed foreign teachers and researchers Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Canada, China, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Serbia, Sweden, and the United States.
Visiting professors and researchers Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Canada, China, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

 

Success beyond the classroomtop

Connected, creative and successful students

The faculty’s reputation is extended by our students' excellent academic performance and by their extensive involvement in extracurricular activities.

The list of the faculty’s major achievements is filled with various accomplishments and awards that strengthen the feeling of belonging to a young faculty and create a positive atmosphere among employees. For their achievements and contribution to the development of extracurricular activities, and for strengthening the university's reputation at home and abroad, three of our students received the Certificate of Recognition for students of the University of Primorska, which is awarded each year to only one student.

Students from all departments are actively involved in conferences and at student and scientific meetings, both in Slovenia and abroad, attending international camps and seeking opportunities to acquire professional and study experience throughout the world. They earn prizes and awards at important international competitions, such as Podjetna Primorska, Nasa Space Apps Challenge, Microsoft Imagine Cup, and others.

The students and the university are in symbiotic relationship: the university would not exist without students, and also the students would not exist without the university. That is why common interaction and integration are of key importance, as the common goal of all of us is to help to create and develop the university area. Since the establishment of FAMNIT we have sought to achieve the active involvement of our students on boards and committees, both at faculty and university level. With joy and enthusiasm we add our contribution to the quality development of FAMNIT and still participate in key strategic decisions today. All this requires a lot of responsibility from students, but consequently it also develops in them a sense of loyalty and conscientiousness. On the other hand, all students who have actively worked in favour of our faculty, have gained a valuable experience, which is very useful in their career paths.

Olga Kaliada, BSc, Mathematics, UP FAMNIT, currently Master’s Student, Mathematical Sciences, UP FAMNIT; former president of UP FAMNIT and UP Student Council, awarded the Certificate of Recognition for UP students


Final contest of Podjetna Primorska in 2015 Koper (May 2015)

Students are able to participate in sports activities where they represent the faculty at national and international university competitions and meetings. In 2016 for example, they won the Jesenska Čista desetka cup for the fourth consecutive year. This event takes place on Rector’s day when teams representing each of the University of Primorska’s faculties compete in ten sports activities.

The faculty provides financial support to student-founded associations that provide high quality extracurricular activities. Among the most active associations are BIODIVA, an association of biologists for the conservation of nature, and the Association of the Students of Biopsychology.

For me FAMNIT is synonymous with a carefree student’s life, because when I talk with colleagues from other faculties and universities I realise that their everyday study problems are unfamiliar to me. At FAMNIT students are not just a number: during lectures given by distinguished professors each has the chance to gain the knowledge s/he is most interested in; the study conditions give us the opportunity to develop our potential. I noticed this in myself too, because at FAMNIT I developed into a more mature and self-confident man. Students also collaborate and socialize outside the classroom. An important part of our everyday life is sports activities, as we regularly meet at basketball, football and other courts. Enjoying our common leisure time also pays off  in league and other competitions, where we represent the colours of our faculty: for several years we can boast high scores and medals in the field of university sports.

Luka Pavlović, BSc, Mathematics, UP FAMNIT, currently Master’s student, Mathematical Sciences, UP FAMNIT


Volleyball team UP FAMNIT, University Sports League 2016

 

Department of Applied Natural Sciencestop

Interdisciplinary combination of sciences and biotechnology, direct contact with the business sector and an active involvement in the environment

Assoc. Prof. Dunja Bandelj, PhD
Head of department

The mission of the department is to become the main incubator of knowledge and education in the field of Mediterranean agriculture and olive growing, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and living environment, and bioinformatics.

  • With direct contacts with the business sector and the users of knowledge, we can quickly respond to the needs of various industries. In the field of Mediterranean agriculture we develop sustainable forms of agriculture and focus our research on the comprehensive study of agricultural plants at all levels, introducing agronomic and food technologies, and modern approaches in genetics and plant biotechnology.
  • We focus on the most topical issues of environmental contaminants in the building industry and on the development of supporting methodologies and technologies that pollute less. We investigate different ways of using materials from renewable sources, solve technological challenges in their application and make it a target to improve the properties of these materials. We conduct fundamental research on the impacts of changes in natural materials on the environment and perform substantiated psychophysiological research in human perception of the naturalness of different materials, and the impact of different materials in the living environment on the health and wellbeing of people.
  • We also focus on the development of the field of bioinformatics. In the 21st century, bioinformatics approaches of integration and regulation of biological data have become an indispensable tool of study due to the rapid development of systems biology. We are improving and developing the computer hardware and software which is necessary for modern computer modelling, for development tasks in industry and in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and in particular in pharmacy.

The department cooperates successfully with the agricultural cooperative Agraria Koper, and since 2015 it has cooperated in the project Primorski vrtiček. The department also cooperates with the manufacturers of wooden houses and with companies producing different construction products and furnishing products and we also introduce them into national and European research, development and innovation projects.

Our department is planning to upgrade the existing master's level degree, and, in cooperation with other departments, we are also preparing a doctoral programme.

In the first place, I was attracted by the entire marine environment, in which the faculty is involved. On the open day I immediately felt at home and at the same time important, as I immediately perceived the effort made by staff, professors and the coordinator of FAMNIT for every single student. After attending lectures for three years at FAMNIT my first impression was more than just confirmed. The small size of the faculty represents an advantage for the student, because they can easily establish contacts with teaching assistants and professors, and students who are tutors are willing to help too. With my classmates and colleagues from other programmes we had the chance to be closely involved in project work, as the faculty regularly participates in projects. I had the opportunity to cooperate in projects and in this way improve my knowledge.

Andreja Grobiša, student BSc Student, Mediterranean agriculture, UP FAMNIT

 

I came to FAMNIT in 2013 from Oregon in the USA to study wood science, sustainable building, and human health. Despite the distance from my previous home, my colleagues immediately made me feel welcome in my new one. Since arriving I’ve felt so fortunate to get to work with colleagues and students in diverse fields and to contribute to developing wood research at the university. My new colleagues have opened my eyes to new ways to approach my own work, and together with the programme's motivated students we have begun to pursue new avenues of research that I believe will lead to advancements in a variety of fields.

Michael David Burnard, researcher UP FAMNIT and UP IAM

 

Research fields Study programmes
  • Agricultural Technology
  • Analysis of Environmental Data
  • Bioinformatics
  • Genetics and Plant Breeding
  • Plant Biotechnology
  • Structural Biology
  • Plant Protection
  • Wood Science
  • Food Technology

 

The knowledge and experience I gained at FAMNIT made it possible for me to smoothly continue the study process at two foreign, world-renowned universities - the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen Business School. Bioinformatics not only helps me in understanding the fundamentals of research and development of new medicines at work, but also gives me a systematic approach in addressing barriers both at work and in everyday life.

Miha Šaberl, BSc, Bioinformatics, UP FAMNIT; MSc, Biology-Biotechnology, University of Copenhagen and MSc, Business Administration and Bioentrepreneurship, Copenhagen Business School. Currently working in the Danish biotech start-up company TychoByo

 

Researching the Mediterranean agroecosystem with an emphasis on olive growing

Within the research programme Conservation biology, from molecules to ecosystem, funded by the Slovenian Research Agency, we are are oriented towards the study of the complex Mediterranean agroecosystem.

An important part of the research of our department is focused on the study of the diversity of cultivated plants, for which the Mediterranean represents one of the most important areas of origin. Although we study different types of plants, we are oriented especially towards olive growing, which is the leading fruit-growing industry in the coastal region. In our work we focus on agronomic technologies, genetics with genomics, transcriptomics and biochemistry of olives. Genetics also represents an essential tool in the field of olive tree protection, because with the help of DNA markers we can explore the dynamics of pests and look for potential resistance to the active compounds of plant protection products, which enable us to search for more effective approaches to disease control and pests for olive trees.

Despite the small size of the Mediterranean area in Slovenia, our achievements are world class, as is evidenced by established connections and common research with some of the leading researchers in the field of agronomy and olives genetics from Spain, France, Italy, Montenegro, Croatia and the United States.

Within the strategic project SIGMA2 (Cross-border network for the sustainable management of the environment and biodiversity) the programme of cross-border cooperation Slovenia - Italy 2007-2013, the researchers of the department contributed significantly to the construction of the first tower of the university campus Livade in Izola. With it we acquired new laboratories with modern research equipment to work in the field of genetics, agronomy and food, which will enable us to successfully compete in the international research community.

 


The most widespread olive variety in Istria is Istrska belica (Istrian white)

 

InnoRenew CoE

Among the key projects in which our researchers are involved, we have to emphasise the Centre of Excellence for Research and Innovation in the field of renewable materials and healthy living environment - InnoRenew CoE (2016–2022) from the instrument Teaming European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020.

The project was developed by 9 partners. The University of Primorska is the project coordinator, while the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research – Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut – an advanced institution for research, development, and industry innovation from Germany, acted as a mentor institution. Other partners involved in the project are the University of Maribor, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, the Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute, the Pulp and Paper Institute, Eurocloud Slovenia, the National Institute of Public Health, and the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region.

The aim of the project is to develop the Centre of Excellence for Research and Innovation in terms of renewable materials use and research in providing positive health benefits in buildings. The centre will transport Slovenia to the forefront of sustainable building research in Europe. Within the project our Living laboratory (LL InnoRenew) has gathered 62 different companies, institutions and connections from 20 countries. They collaboratively explore and design themes, opportunities, and risks for new products, services and systems in the field of innovative renewable materials.

The European Commission recognised the potential of the consortium and awarded it with a grant of almost 15 million Euros to establish the Renewable Materials and Healthy Environments Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence (InnoRenew CoE). The Government of the Republic of Slovenia added 30 million Euros of investment funding to boost development of the new research centre.

Everyone will be welcome at the centre and we believe it will become a good example of cooperation between researchers, industry, and the public. We will lead the transformation of the Slovenian and European industry, be knowledge driven and accomplish more with our limited renewable resources than ever before, particularly in exploiting the potential of the forest and timber industry. This shift will enable the industries we will work with to gain competitive advantages in the world market.

Associate Professor Andreja Kutnar, PhD - InnoRenew CoE Director, Head of the Department of Technology at UP IAM, lecturer and researcher at UP FAMNIT

 

Department of Information Science and Technologytop

Innovative research areas and cooperation with companies


Prof. Tomaž Pisanski, PhD
Head of department

The department develops and interconnects innovative and interdisciplinary research areas. When teaching, knowledge from these interdisciplinary fields is transmitted to students, while initiative and creativity are encouraged. We also collect exhibits of computing heritage for our Museum of Computing, which are displayed in an interactive permanent collection.

Students regularly participate in projects where they contribute to the development of applications and programs (e.g. Bobri voz interactive comic, Playing with the Artworks, 3D Virtual Tracing, StreetGames, Digital Graffiti), as well as in workshops and seminars that are oriented towards different areas of computer science. Students attend meetings with computer experts and take part in competitions, gaining valuable experience and establishing a strong sense of belonging. We have established a network of companies that we work with and where our students work on practical problems and learn about industry. Our goal is to provide graduates with the skills and network to contribute to both company and economic development.

We are aware that innovative ideas are created in cooperation with others; for this reason, we cooperate extensively with foreign universities, both in Europe and worldwide. Our partners in the field of programming languages are the Canadian University of Waterloo and the Swedish University of Luleå; human-computer interaction (HCI) is researched in cooperation with Lancaster University and Birmingham Central Lancashire (UK); we actively cooperate with the University of Prague in machine translation of natural languages and language technologies; and in the field of graph theory and theoretical computer science we cooperate with the University of Freiburg (Germany) and Rutgers University (USA).

Due to a growing interest among foreign students, in the academic year 2017/18 we will offer the undergraduate study programme Computer Science and Informatics in English.

Famnit is celebrating its 10th anniversary and likewise, my history with the University of Primorska also started exactly 10 years ago. It was in 2006 when I visited Koper for the first time and gave some lectures in Algorithmics. This visit was just the first step towards a fruitful cooperation, under which we established permanent joint research activities with prof. Brodnik and his group. The Middle-European Conference on Applied Theoretical Computer Science conference MATCOS is also organized every three years as a common effort. Nevertheless, the cooperation in teaching is probably even more intensive: prof. Brodnik and assist. prof. Kavšek regularly teach classes in my home university, and I am a yearly visiting lecturer, spending several weeks here. It is not the anniversary that makes me say Koper is my »second home«; the familiar atmosphere of the classes and the inspiring working environment make Famnit and the University of
Primorska a special place.


Assistant Professor Miklós Krész, PhD - lecturer at the University of Szeged, Hungary and visiting professor at UP FAMNIT

 

I associate FAMNIT with the excellent cooperation with my supervisor prof. Janez Žibert and my first steps into the world of business, as well as with a number of social events. During my postgraduate study abroad, I noticed that the in-depth courses in mathematics, that I did not enjoy much during my undergraduate studies, became extremely useful when reading scientific publications and implementing new algorithms.
Today, I am the director and partner of the Swiss group Catenate, which numbers 140 employees and has offices in six European countries. We are engaged in IT services and investments; my current challenge represents the creation of the accelerator in Munich, where we want to help interesting start-ups in penetrating global markets.


Irman Abdić, BSc, Computer Science at UP FAMNIT, MSc in Computer Science and Information Technology at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. He is currently director and partner at Catenate Holding AG.

 

Research fields Study programmes
  • Augmented Reality
  • Computer Vision
  • Data Mining
  • Data Structures
  • Database Systems
  • Human–Computer Interaction
  • Language Technologies
  • Personal Information Management

 

In addition to the high-quality educational process, a real discovery at FAMNIT was the possibility of participating in projects. The work is diverse and requires me to connect different skills and tasks that are a real challenge. My knowledge is constantly upgraded and when I see a problem, I know that somebody in the team will be happy to help me.

Goran Tubić, BSc student, Computer Science, UP FAMNIT

 

HICUP - Laboratory for human-computer interaction

Despite the fact that our lives are more and more interlaced with the usage of different computer systems, (e.g. PC, smartphone, smartwatch, tablet) in the past forty years our interaction with them has not changed drastically. In the Laboratory for human-computer interaction at the University of Primorska (HICUP), we want to change this practice by designing innovative, smart user interfaces that operate as an extension of our physical, mental, and behavioural skills.

HICUP places priority on the users (User Centered Design) and based on the user needs, we are creating the future User Experience - UX. This experience is tailored towards easier use, greater safety, utility, practice, ergonomics, and effectiveness of products, services, and interfaces.

The HICUP strategy is based on researching new interaction concepts that rely on basic sciences in computing (such as data mining, machine learning, computer vision, computer graphics, language technologies, etc.) and sciences which highlight the human being (e.g., psychology, sociology, ergonomics).

Students are active participants in the research and have the opportunity to acquire additional skills in computer science and other disciplines. The results of the research are integrated into the study process at all levels: within elective courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, participation in summer schools, final assignments, and independent student projects.

 

Joint EURO/ORSC/ECCO International Conference 2017 on Combinatorial Optimization (ECCO XXX)

From the 3rd to the 6th of May 2017 the Department of Information Science and Technology hosted the 30th jubilee ECCO congress (European Chapter on Combinatorial Optimization). For the first time the congress was  jointly organized by EURO (The Association of European Operational Research Societies) and ORSC (Operations Research Society of China).

ECCO is an annual meeting of researchers in the field of combinatorial optimization, where participants present their work, exchange experiences, and discuss new theoretical and practical knowledge in this field. The conference presents the results and experience from both problem solving combinatorial optimization and basic knowledge of theoretical bases. The conference paper topics range from exact to heuristic or metaheuristic algorithms, which use algorithmic techniques such as integer programming, global optimization, stochastic integer programming, multiobjective programming, and the like. One of the important objectives of the conference is to promote work in the field of combinatorial optimization in the wider scientific community in order to increase interaction between researchers in different fields.

One of the beauties of computer science and informatics is that it stretches between discrete mathematics and engineering. Traditionally, in Slovenia, computing and informatics lean much more on engineering, but at UP FAMNIT for the entire Slovenian space there is a unique proximity to mathematics. This brings to the field an important, close link between theory and practice, as practical problems are modeled in the abstract problem that is theoretically solved and the final solution is effectively used in practice. This close relationship between theory and practice is also reflected by the ECCO conference. Allow me to emphasize that the problems of combinatorial optimization are encountered in everyday logistics, bioinformatics, chemoinformatics, pharmacy and many other areas. The conference will be a great opportunity for researchers and students of UP FAMNIT to come into direct and genuine contact with the best researchers in the field.

Prof. Andrej Brodnik, PhD - lecturer and researcher at UP FAMNIT and at the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, University of Ljubljana, Conference Coordinator

Department of Biodiversitytop

The members of the department are active in the field of basic and applied science, aimed at the preservation of biodiversity and health of ecosystems. The integrative scientific approach contributes to our understanding of how biological systems work and to strengthening a positive attitude towards nature and the environment.


Assoc. Prof. Elena Bužan, PhD
Head of Department

The aim of the department is an integrative approach in understanding the operation and preservation of biological systems, based on the values of ecocentric ethics. The scientific work of the members of the department is primarily focused in the areas of conservation biology, and includes research on genetic diversity and conservation ecology of many endangered organisms and on the health of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Therefore, our approach in solving conservation problems is multidisciplinary and in our research we use the most modern molecular methods, remote sensing systems, and population and spatial analysis. We have to emphasize that our researchers work in a wider Mediterranean area and are among the leading experts in the international scientific environment.

The above-mentioned research work represents the basis for our study programmes. With the development of research focused on preserving ecology of marine ecosystems, we introduced a unique study programme into Slovenian higher education – the science of sea protection. As an upgrade to the existing undergraduate programme in biodiversity and master's programme in nature conservation, we are planning to also offer a doctoral programme.

For high-quality teaching and research work, we offer modern laboratories on the University campus Livade in Izola, where students can easily be enthused about studying and researching. Through the biological and natural science evenings, which are intended for the general public, thematic lectures, workshops for schoolchildren, research camps for high school students and meetings with mentors, where teachers of all Slovenian schools are regularly invited, we realize our mission in raising awareness and education on the importance and characteristics of healthy ecosystems as basics of our daily life and the sustainable development of our society.

The department actively cooperates with foreign higher education institutions, both in the organization of summer schools for students (in the summer of 2017, in cooperation with Oregon State University, we will organize an international summer school on the topic of sea protection) and projects. Among the international projects, where our university is a partner institution, we would like to highlight the STARBIOS2 project (Structural Transformation to Attain Responsible Biosciences) and LIFE EUROTURTLES (Collective Actions for Improving the conservation status of the EU sea turtle populations).

My collaboration with FAMNIT started three years ago during courses on zoology and entomology. This cooperation, because of its international dimensions, significantly enriched my experiences as a university professor. What particularly impressed me with this Faculty is the freedom and creativity in organizing courses and in work with students, easy communication with all sections of University, even the Rector, and a great number of professors that are not from Slovenia. During my stay in Koper, I've truly felt the hard work done by employees to make this young University a part of the European and Mediterranean system of Universities, and that is one of the most beautiful feelings I've ever had in my career as a university professor. Based on all of my experiences, I am sure that the University of Primorska is progressing to become a high quality centre where many young people will gain the knowledge and skills required for their further work.

Prof. Mladen Kučinić, PhD - Professor at the University of Zagreb, visiting professor at UP FAMNIT

 

For effective protection of terrestrial and marine ecosystems it is necessary to gain an in-depth knowledge of the diversity of living beings and the mutual interaction of living organisms and the environment. An inseparable part of the evolutionary process and an important component of modern ecosystems are also the humans who have a strong influence on nature, especially concerning long-term over-exploitation of nature and natural resources. Integrating scientific research in various fields as it is carried out at the Department of Biodiversity, represents a precondition for the successful protection of nature.

 

Research fields Study programmes
  • Biotic Globalization
  • Climate Changes
  • Conservation Biology
  • Conservation Ecology of Large Marine Vertebrates
  • Ecology of Terrestrial and Marine Ecosystems
  • Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Development
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Molecular Ecology
  • Spatial Ecology and Modelling
  • Speleobiology

 

Studying at Famnit represents one of the most fertile periods of my life, a period full of new knowledge and experience. At undergraduate level, I found a number of topics that I am particularly interested in, and I attended lectures with enthusiasm. There were plenty of opportunities, such as competitions, project work, field work; I would like to emphasise the unforgettable memories I have of the internship in the nature reserve Parque Machia in Bolivia, where I worked in a shelter for wild animals with two classmates. Studying at FAMNIT not only brought me my diploma, but especially brought me the powerful tool for shaping my future.

Martin Senič, graduate degree in Biodiversity, currently master’s student of Nature conservation

 

STARBIOS2 - Structural Transformation to Attain Responsible BIOSciences

STARBIOS2 (2016–2020) is financed by the European Commission under the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020. Within the project we develop and implement action plans that will lead to structural changes in the field of responsible research (Responsible Research and Innovation – RRI) and innovation in selected research institutions that are active in the field of bioscience. Action plans will be implemented in partner institutions of the participating partners in the project.

The leading partner in the project is the University of Rome Tor Vergata from Italy. In addition to our university, the partner institutions involved in the project are the universities and institutes from Bulgaria (Agrobioinstitute), Brazil (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation), Denmark (Aarhus University), France (Sparks & Co. - European Science Communication Agency), Italy (Laboratory of Citizenship Sciences, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology), Germany (University of Bremen), Poland (University of Gdańsk), the United States (University System of Maryland), and the United Kingdom (The University of Oxford, Oxford Biomedical Research Centre).

 

LIFE EUROTURTLES - Collective actions for improving the conservation status of the EU sea turtle populations

The EUROTURTLES project (20162021) is financed by the LIFE programme of the European Commission and is implemented in collaboration with partners from Croatia, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta. The leading partner in the project is the Croatian Natural History Museum from Zagreb (Croatia).

The project is oriented towards the complete protection of the European population of loggerhead sea turtles through the development of coordinated protective measures and the integration of the main breeding and feeding habitats in the waters of the European Union. The Mediterranean sea represents the home of one of the world's largest populations of loggerhead sea turtles whose main nesting sites are in Greece and Cyprus, while the feeding areas are located in the shallow waters of the Adriatic. The development of tourism in nesting sites, the incidental catch of more than 11 thousand turtles annually in the Adriatic sea alone, pollution and habitat degradation, and climate change are just some of the human activities which today threaten regional populations of sea turtles.

The effective protection of those migratory organisms that are important for maintaining healthy marine ecosystems, is only possible with a common, coordinated approach by all the countries that share the habitats of sea turtles, and such a concept of cross-border care represents the basis of the LIFE EUROTURTLES project. The project also includes the development of new scientific methods and alternative tools for monitoring and protecting the populations, mainly in marine habitats. This represents the main task of our researchers. The research will be jointly carried out by an interdisciplinary team of experts from the Departments of Biodiversity and Applied Sciences and the Andrej Marušič Institute of the University of Primorska.

Marine biologists from the Department of Biodiversity UP FAMNIT - Head of the project LIFE EUROTURTLES at UP FAMNIT, Assistant Professor Bojan Lazar, PhD (right) and teaching assistant Tilen Genov.

 

International conference on marine turtles

Protecting sea turtles - migratory organisms of complex biology - represents a challenge, especially in the complex, multicultural environment of the Mediterranean. The exchange of new knowledge and preservation approaches represents the main purpose of the Mediterranean conference on marine turtles that is organised every third year with the support of three international conventions (the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean, the Berne Convention for the Protection of European Flora and Fauna and Their Natural Habitats and the Bonn Convention on the Protection of Migratory Species) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

For several years the marine biologists from the Department of Biodiversity (UP FAMNIT) have been involved in protective applicative research on large marine vertebrates, including sea turtles, and are among the leading researchers in the Mediterranean. For that reason, UP FAMNIT was selected as host institution of the next 6th Mediterranean Conference on marine turtles, which will be held in autumn 2018 in Portorož. The conference will be organized under the motto Building Synergies and will aim at improving links and collaboration with other expert groups dealing with large marine vertebrates and the invention of joint protection strategies in the Mediterranean. The conference will also represent a platform to raise awareness and public support for the protection of sea turtles in the Mediterranean area.

 

Department of Mathematicstop

Enthusiasm and our relatively young teaching and research team brings flexibility and adaptability to the needs of each student. Research excellence and international integration gives students with inquiring minds the possibility of continuing their study paths at prestigious foreign universities.


Prof. Bojan Kuzma, PhD
Head of department

»The essence of mathematics is not in formulas but in the mental processes by which we obtain them.« The idea of the Belarusian mathematician, Vasily Petrovich Ermakov, pretty much sums up the essence of our teaching mission, which is oriented towards the promotion of critical thinking among students and prepares them to use mathematical approaches, techniques, and tools in a given situation.

The advantages of studying mathematics in our department are recognized by many foreign students from the Balkans and Eastern European countries, South America, and China, who come to study in Koper at the University of Primorska. The high quality study programmes at the University of Primorska are confirmed by the outstanding performance of our students in international competitions and their continuing study paths at some of the most prestigious international universities, such as Rutgers University (USA), University of Bonn (Germany), University of Lyon, and Lille 1 University (France).

The department is composed of noted researchers and professors whose work is internationally recognized, especially in the field of algebraic graph theory. Today the research group UP FAMNIT is among the most important in the field worldwide. Research and networking with foreign colleagues represents an important aspect of our work:  we regularly organize or co-organize high-profile international conferences and scientific meetings where we develop continuous cooperation with colleagues worldwide.

The year 2016 was marked by some outstanding achievements. The scientific journal Ars Mathematica Contemporanea, which is published in cooperation with the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Slovenia and the Institute of Mathematics, Physics, and Mechanics, was the first Slovenian scientific journal to be in the top quarter of journals in the field of mathematics (based on the index of SCI citations). Furthermore, the European Association of Mathematicians entrusted us to organize the 8th European Congress of Mathematics, which will be held in Portorož in 2020. On U-Multirank, the scale for assessment of universities and higher education institutions, our study programme in mathematics is ranked 20th among 216 universities worldwide and 18th among 170 European higher education institutions.

Our time is also devoted to the popularization of mathematics because we want to bring it closer to younger students. Our summer camps for primary and secondary schools are excellently attended, as well as mathematical days for primary schools and lectures for the general public called Excursions into mathematical space. At these events participants discover ancient and modern mathematical theories and their applications in various scientific branches in a non-technical way.

 

I cannot imagine my work without mathematical knowledge. I am currently employed at the insurance company Adriatic Slovenica, where I am in charge of analysis, data processing and visualization, and occasionally as lecturer for internal employees.
Upon entering the newly created faculty I felt the real energy and enthusiasm the students need for studying successfully. At FAMNIT I always felt comfortable because the professors and teaching assistants are always available and willing to help when needed. The desire of development and growth has come true, and today I am proud that I am part of this story.

Marko Tuta, BSc, Mathematics, MSc Mathematical Sciences, UP FAMNIT; currently employed at the insurance company Adriatic Slovenica d.d.

 

I study symmetry and graphs, and here at FAMNIT they have one of the best programmes in the world. They are also very active in organising conferences and workshops. Basically everyone in my area comes to FAMNIT, and this is where I meet the world.

Prof. Edward T. Dobson, PhD - Full Professor at Mississippi State University (USA) and the University of Primorska

 

Research fields Study programmes
  • Algebraic Graph Theory
  • Algorithmic Graph Theory
  • Complex and Functional Analysis
  • Cryptography
  • Linear Algebra
  • Mathematical Biology
  • Numerical Mathematics
  • Spectral graph theory
  • Permutation Group Theory
  • Probability and Statistics

 

Do you know the feeling when you are sure that you have made the right decision? I have that feeling after completing my BSc Mathematics studies at UP FAMNIT. In a pleasant atmosphere one can learn a lot in different areas of mathematics and use that knowledge in research projects. In addition, I had an opportunity to travel worldwide, meeting colleagues and reputable professors, which will help me to build a successful career in mathematics.

Marko Rajković, BSc, Mathematics, UP FAMNIT, currently master’s student of mathematics at the University of Bonn, Germany

 

After studying at FAMNIT, I was accepted to the PhD programme, Operations Research, at Rutgers University in the US. Currently under the supervision of prof. Endre Boros, my research is devoted to the Sprague-Grundy theory that I am trying to generalize. As a doctoral student, I was first a teaching assistant, but now I am a professor of statistics. I am still in contact with my former mentor, prof. Martin Milanič, with whom I communicate weekly via the Internet and explore some families of graphs.
At Famnit I gained a very positive attitude towards mathematics and a lot of knowledge that can now be applied to various problems - from study to everyday life. The faculty has opened wide the doors of any other study programme, since most of the knowledge and logical thinking represents the prerequisite for any science.


Peter Muršič, BSc, Mathematics, MSc Mathematical Sciences, UP FAMNIT; currently PhD Student at Rutgers University, USA

 

8th European Congress of Mathematics
Portorož, 5 – 11 July 2020

Mathematicians of the University of Primorska, in cooperation with the representatives of all Slovene mathematical research institutions, were granted the honour of organising the eighth European Congress of Mathematics in 2020 (8EMC). The Council of the European Mathematical Society, which gathered at the 7th European Congress of Mathematics in Berlin in July 2016, recognized the potential of the Slovenian candidates and selected us for the organization of the next congress. The decision was greeted with enthusiasm and satisfaction, as the Council expressed its deepest confidence and entrusted to us the organization of the congress.

After the International Congress of Mathematicians, the European Congress of Mathematics is the second largest meeting of mathematicians in the world and is attended by approximately 1,000 researchers and doctoral students.

The candidature was launched by UP FAMNIT, in collaboration with University of Primorska, Andrej Marušič Institute, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, University of Maribor, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and all other organisations active in the field of mathematics in Slovenia. It was also supported by the Slovenian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the Slovene Research Agency, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Slovenian Rectors' Conference.

It is a major success for Slovenian mathematicians and science in general, as such an important event has not yet been hosted in Slovenia. With this success, Slovenian science has been opened to the whole world. In the next four years, we have a unique opportunity to further promote Slovenia and its science in Europe and worldwide.

Professor Dragan Marušič, PhD, Rector of the University of Primorska

 

Mathematics has always played an important role in physics, chemistry, and other sciences, but with digitalization it is becoming indispensable. This is the topic mathematicians are involved in during congresses, that up until now were the domain of the so-called big countries. The congress that will be held in Slovenia is an excellent opportunity to show how important the contribution of Slovenian scientists is to the development of mathematics at a global level.

Professor Tomaž Pisanski, PhD, President of the Organizational Committee of 8EMC

Ars Mathematica Contemporanea

In 2015 the international scientific journal was in the first quarter of scientific journals in the field of mathematics with the highest impact factor

UP FAMNIT, in collaboration with the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Slovenia and the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Mechanics, Ljubljana, publishes the international mathematical journal Ars Mathematica Contemporanea (AMC).

The Journal AMC was established in 2008 by prof. Dragan Marušič, PhD and prof. Tomaž Pisanski, PhD. Together with an enthusiastic team of international editors, they are still managing the journal today. The journal publishes top scientific articles in modern mathematics, especially in the field of discrete mathematics and applied mathematics paradigm. Preference is given to articles combining discrete mathematics with other parts of mathematics such as algebra, geometry, topology, theoretical computer science and combinatorics.

The journal is published thanks to the co-funding of the Slovenian Research Agency Slovenia (ARRS).

In 2011 the journal was included for the first time in the citation indexes SCI (Science Citation Index), in 2012 it was ranked in the second quarter of SCI journals in mathematics (IF 0.667), and in 2015 it was ranked in the first quarter (IF 0.985) of journals in the field of mathematics with the highest impact factor.

The portal SCIMAGO ranked the journal in first place among scientific journals in Slovenia, and in 2015 ranked it in 6th place in Eastern Europe. The journal has been ranked in first place in the field of »Algebra and Number Theory« and »Theoretical Computer Science« and in second place in the field of »Discrete mathematics and combinatorics.«

Being ranked in the first quarter of the citation index SCI in the field of mathematics represents an important achievement, which does not surprise me. Slovenia is successfully breaking new ground in this area, and therefore, I highly appreciate Slovenian scientists. Their contribution to the development of research in the field of biology, communications, sociology and many others is extremely important.

Prof. Marston Conder, PhD, Full Professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand

 

Department of Psychologytop

Interdisciplinary integration of psychology with related professional fields for a broader understanding of mental processes


Prof. Diego De Leo, DSc
Head of department

The scientific study of human behavior, in particular mental processes of individuals, but also personality, and attitude towards oneself and the surroundings, has long been implemented in connection with different disciplines, where each discipline adds its own specialty and methodology. The Department of Psychology at UP FAMNIT is therefore highly interdisciplinary, as it includes professors and researchers with a variety of profiles: from psychologists from different areas of psychology (clinical, social, medical, developmental, educational, organizational) to psychiatrists, neurologists, biochemists, biologists, ethologists, chemists, statisticians and computer scientists, and mathematicians.

The interdisciplinarity of the research fields in the department have allowed for the creation of an innovative study programme in biopsychology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and our faculty was the first to develop it on the national level. The programme is comprised of knowledge coming from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, biology and genetics, and gives the students insight into the biological background of psychological processes. In the academic year 2016/17, two of our MSc graduates in Biopsychology successfully applied for the position of young researchers at UP FAMNIT and the Faculty of Medicine (University of Ljubljana). Both graduates were also involved in the study programmes in biopsychology.

In 2014, the faculty successfully expanded the central study areas to the field of psychology, which allowed for the accreditation of the new master's programme in Applied Psychology. Also in this case, we offer an innovative approach to studying psychology, as the study programme, together with the first level study programme in Biopsychology, meets the standard EuroPsy (i.e., European Certificate in Psychology), providing the European qualification standard for psychologists.

At the Department we are planning a doctoral study programme as an upgrade to the existing study programmes.

The department is closely connected with the Department of Health Studies and the Slovenian Centre for Suicide Research, which operate under the Andrej Marušič Institute of the University of Primorska. The members of the department are involved in scientific research and participate in several national and international projects, among which are: the national research program Alive? Alive! - Research and suicide prevention, the NARA programme – the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and EAAD – Raising awareness on depression, the project Super psychologist – supervised tutorials of psychologists: the development of the training programme for mentors and the model of supervised practice, and the project Comprehensive approach to the treatment, social, and economic reintegration of users of drugs (CLOUD), which was successfully completed in 2016.

Students are regularly involved in scientific research and professional activities (participation at international conferences and seminars), and we cooperate with them in activities that students organize on their own initiative within the framework of the Association of the Students of Biopsychology.

I've had the pleasure to join FAMNIT in conjunction with the start of the Biopsychology courses in 2010, and I had a rare opportunity to see a great idea taking concrete form. This gave me the opportunity of really seeing the step-by-step development of an institution that today offers a great space for education and professional opportunities to a number of students. I also had the honour to lead the Department of Psychology and to see the birth of the Applied Psychology Master’s study programme. In a very short span, I could see the realisation of what the late Prof. Andrej Marušič conceived. I am happy and deeply honoured to be part of this magnificent enterprise.

Professor Diego De Leo, DSc - Full Professor at the University of Primorska, professor of psychiatry at the University of Queensland and the University of Griffith, head of postgraduate programme in Suicidology and Director of the Clinic Life Promotion at the University of Griffith, and head of the Slovenian Research Center of suicide (University of Primorska, within the Andrej Marušič Institute of the University of Primorska).

 

Research Fields: Study Programmes:
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Ethics
  • Mental Health
  • Mourning
  • Quantitative Research in Psychology
  • Qualitative Research in Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Suicide and Suicidology
  • Social Psychology
  • Supervision

 

Studying biopsychology can be represented as a beautiful pebble in my study and research path, but also in my personal path. At FAMNIT, in three years of my undergraduate studies, I thoroughly understood what makes me happy and what my research interests are. With some time, distance, and with the experience of studying abroad I can even more certainly say that the study programme in Biopsychology represents a good springboard, especially for students who are highly motivated and have the desire to integrate their knowledge from the fields of neuroscience, psychology and experimental biology. As a student of behavioural neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam, what will I miss the most? Probably the enthusiasm when at FAMNIT in which we organized various projects or late at night naively prepared the application for our entrepreneurial idea; the advice of professors, trying to find different opportunities, the morning jogging along a sunny promenade and a carefree jump into the sea.

Urša Bernardič, BSc, Biopsychology, UP FAMNIT; currently master’s student in the programme Research Master Brain and Cognitive Science (Behavioural Neuroscience track) at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Alive? Alive! Research and suicide prevention

Since 2013 at the Department of Psychology at UP FAMNIT we have successfully implemented a research programme called Alive? Alive! Research and prevention of suicide, funded by the Slovenian Research Agency. The programme presents a comprehensive approach to the prevention of suicide as a major social and public health problem in Slovenia and offers innovative ways to research suicidal behavior.

Activities are carried out in cooperation with the researchers of the Slovenian Centre for Suicide Research at the Andrej Marušič Institute at the University of Primorska. Our activities are comprised of prevention workshops for vulnerable groups (youth, elderly) and professionals who deal with vulnerable individuals. We have introduced mindfulness workshops for vulnerable groups, as well as for gatekeepers of the system (e.g. medical and counselling staff, police) and we contribute significantly to the development of this field in our country.

As part of the research programme came to life, the website Alive? Alive! also did, which represents the meeting point of information, research and prevention programmes.  Experts and people with personal experience write about mental health and suicide, but the page also addresses the media that, with responsible reporting, represents an important element in suicide prevention. The website is presented as a station, because suicidal behaviour can also be seen as one of the stations in one’s own life. The wordplay, Alive? Alive!, indicates that every individual finds their way out.

With the research programme we are setting a systematic approach to the prevention and study of suicide, in particular, we are looking for new opportunities and approaches that will contribute to the well-being of our society. Encouraging results of our interventions and the trend of a declining ratio of suicide in the last decade are our motivation for work.

Assistant Professor Vita Poštuvan, PhD - Coordinator of the research program Alive? Alive! and lecturer at the study programme Biopsychology and Applied Psychology

 

TRIPLE i: intuition, imagination and innovation in Suicidology

Since 2009, experts in the field of research and the prevention of suicide have met at the international conference Triple i - intuition, innovation and imagination and Suicidology. Since 2012, the international scientific meeting has been organized by the Slovenian centre for suicide research, which operates within the Andrej Marušič Institute at the University of Primorska, and UP FAMNIT, in memory of the work done by the late, renowned psychiatrist prof. Andrej Marušič. As professor Marušič did in the creation of innovative approaches to the study and prevention of suicide, the aim of the conference is also to generate innovation, intuition and imagination.

Over the years Triple i developed into a platform of fruitful exchanges of views between distinguished experts and young experts in suicide, mental health professionals, students and the wider public. Every year the programme includes current topics from the research field of suicidal behaviour and clinical work with patients.

In seven years at Triple i we have hosted lecturers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, India, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Hungary, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom. The fully attended conference represents clear evidence that in a short time it has become a reference meeting where experts not only meet, but also educate and exchange experience on the largest public health problem in our country and in the world.

I have cooperated four times with the students of FAMNIT and the researchers of the Slovenian Centre for Suicide Research (SCSR), which works under the Andrej Marušič Institute of the University of Primorska (UP IAM). During my exchanges, I lectured students of biopsychology and psychologist trainees at professional meetings, organized by the SCSR. I also work closely with doctoral students in several research projects in the field of prevention and presented my work at the intellectually stimulating conference Triple i, which takes place in cooperation with UP FAMNIT and UP IAM. At the institution there are many intelligent and motivated young professionals who will contribute positively to the development of science and public health in Slovenia and abroad. I look forward to the next opportunity to cooperate with them.

Associate Professor David Kerr, PhD - Oregon State University, Visiting professor at UP FAMNIT