Top science awards go to physicist and mathematician

Ljubljana, 17 October - Physicist Danilo Zavrtanik and mathematician Joso Vukman are the winners of this year's Zois Prizes for lifetime achievement in science and research. Mechanical engineer Jože Vižintin received the Puh Prize for lifetime achievement for his contribution to Slovenia's economic and social development.

Zavrtanik, a long-term employee of the University of Nova Gorica and the Jožef Stefan Institute, has been a driving force of efforts to promote equal participation of Slovenian researchers in the international arena. Thanks to his efforts and the efforts of his colleagues, Slovenia became an associate member of CERN.

In 1995 he founded the international Faculty of Environmental Sciences in Nova Gorica, which he led for many years and managed to develop into a successful university, the jury said.

Vukman, a distinguished professor of the University of Maribor, has influenced the development of the theory of functional identities, one of the most important theories of the last thirty years in the ring theory.

He is seen as the founder of theoretical mathematics at the university.

Vižintin, who was honoured with the Puh Prize, was the first person in the world to measure the temperature generated in a 'fretting contact' and prove the change in the structure of a material that leads to its loss of strength and loadbearing capacity.

He has also received the Zois Prize for excellence in mechanical engineering for his achievement, which was particularly important for the assessment of the lifespan of bearings in aircraft engines.

The winners of the top national awards in science were declared at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation on Friday and presented in a short video.

The awards ceremony will take place in Ljubljana's Cankarjev Dom on 28 November.

Higher Education Ministry State Secretary Jure Gašparič said on Friday that scientists along with successful athletes and business executives were the best ambassadors of Slovenia internationally.

He also said he was glad that despite the funding cuts in many fields due to the August floods science projects would not be affected. For the second year in a row, science will receive the most funds ever, he said.

Each ministry will allocate part of its funds exclusively for science and research, which means "that for the first time we're approaching science, research and innovation holistically as the government".

The Zois Prizes, the highest national awards for science, are named after Baron Žiga Zois (1747-1819) and have been presented annually since 1998.

The Puh Prizes, first given out in 2018, honour researchers whose work has contributed to Slovenia's economic or social development. They are named after the inventor Janez Puh (1862-1914).