Alkuin Maximilian Koenig (ESR1)

Alkuin studied General Physics at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in Bolivia. Early on in his studies, he started participating in the local Atmospheric Physics Lab (LFA), with which he maintained a strong collaboration after obtaining his degree. As a local staff member of the LFA, he participated in the SALTENA campaign by the University of Helsinki, focused on the topic of New Particle Formation (NPF) in the Bolivian Andes, and eventually attended the Hyytiälä winter school, working on NPF growth rates.

In parallel, he got involved in the topic of atmospheric mercury through a data set sampled at the high altitude (5240 m) Chacaltaya GAW station in Bolivia by the LFA and the Institute of Environmental Geosciences (IGE), under the supervision of Aurélien Dommergue. Through this data, he explored seasonal patterns of atmospheric mercury and tried identifying mercury sources and sinks in South America, using as tracers some of the other magnitudes measured continuously at the CHC station (e.g: Black carbon, Carbon monoxide, Carbon dioxide).

In this context, he got invited in fall 2018 as a scientific visitor to the IGE and started a Master’s degree in earth sciences at the University of Grenoble (UGA) the following year. Towards the end of the first year of this program, he learned about the GMOS train and saw an opportunity to keep exploring and contributing to the field of atmospheric mercury.

Project Title: Understanding atmospheric Hg redox transformations from novel field observations and 3D atmospheric Hg models.

Hosting institution: UGA, Grenoble, France

Supervisor: Ass. Prof. Aurélien Dommergue (UGA)

Co-supervisor: J. Sonke (CNRS)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Sreekanth Vijayakumaran Nair (ESR2)

Sreekanth Vijayakumaran Nair holds bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and master’s degree in environmental
sciences from India. First rank holder in M.Sc. Environmental Sciences in University of
Kerala – India (2016). He recently graduated from Germany – studied Masters in ‘Sustainable mining and remediation management’ in Faculty of geosciences,
geoengineering and Mining, Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany.

He worked on Master thesis in the Department of Isotope Biogeochemistry, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany under the supervision of Dr. Karolina M. Nowak and Dr. Sohaib Aslam. Formal supervisor from TU Bergakademie
Freiberg was Prof. Dr. Jörg Matschullat. He worked on master thesis under the topic ‘biodegradation of (pesticide) glyphosate in agricultural soils’. Goals of the work was to use co-labeled molecules (13C and 15N) of glyphosate and AMPA to study the impact of mineral fertilizers (P and N) in biodegradation of glyphosate and its degradation sequence, to trace biomass formation and to check the fate of AMPA in agricultural soil.
Research interest: (environmental research) – multidisciplinary studies on geochemical
cycle of elements, degradation/fate and transformation of organic/inorganic contaminants in different environmental compartments.
Sreekanth came to know about GMOS Train projects from UFZ webmail while doing master thesis in UFZ and he is looking forward to developing a future career in mercury research.

Project Title: New experimental constraints on atmospheric Hg red-ox reactions

Hosting institution: JSI, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Milena Horvat (JSI)

Co-supervisor: A. Dommergue (UGA), J. Sonke (CNRS)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: International Postgraduate School Jožef Stefan

Luisa Ma. Malberti (ESR3)

Luisa graduated from a 5 years (2014-2019) Radiochemistry career at the Higher Institute of Technologies and Applied Sciences (InSTEC), in the University of Havana, Cuba. She was always interested in work solving biological and/or environmental problems.

During the career, she was part of a research Internship at the Cuban Antidoping Laboratory working under the direct supervision of the Laboratory´s Director, MSc. Rodny Montes de Oca Porto, focused on reducing the time and resources used by the GC-C-IRMS technique. The results were orally presented at the InSTEC´s Scientific Forum in 2018, awarding the first position in the Chemistry Commission and the Special Economic Award.

As part of her thesis research she worked once more in the Cuban Antidoping Laboratory under the supervision of MSc. R. Montes de Oca Porto, but this time in the implementation of a methodology by GC-C-IRMS for the origin determination of the steroid Boldenone and its main metabolite. This work required the chemical-physical extraction and purification of organic compound in very low concentrations from a complex matrix; the spectrometrical-chromatografic analysis and the isotopic analysis (δ13C) for origin determination of the steroids.

The GMOS-Train project focused in the origin determination of the MMHg from marine ecosystems by stablishing the δ13C values using GC-C-IRMS, represents a unique opportunity to improve her lab-skills, acquire more expertise and dominium in the GC-C-IRMS technique, enhance her scientific knowledge and fulfill one of her more deepest interest of contribute in the understanding of environmental problems.

Project Title: Combining carbon, hydrogen and Hg compound specific isotope analysis to understand MMHg origin.

Hosting institution: CNRS, Toulouse, France

Supervisor: Dr. David Point (CNRS)

Co-supervisor: J. Sonke (CNRS); A. Lorrain (IRD)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Paul Sabatier University, France

Natalia Torres Rodriguez (ESR4)

Natalia graduated from the University of Kiel in Germany with a master’s degree in Marine Geosciences. During her master’s degree, she worked in the Marine Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems group at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. She took part in several cruises, one of them in the hydrothermal systems of Grimsey and Loki’s Castle, in the vicinity of Iceland. Finally, she wrote her master’s thesis in the geochemistry of deep-sea ferromanganese nodules and crusts from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, in a project in cooperation between GEOMAR and the Geological Survey of Germany. As the outcome of her master’s thesis, the mechanisms of formation and geochemistry of these deep-sea rocks were clarified, giving important insights about the oceanographic and palaeoceanographic setting of the study area. Natalia has taken part in several internships, one of them in CSIRO in Australia, where pressure and temperature of formation of some deposits in the West Australian Craton were estimated through chemical models.

With her background in geochemistry and marine sciences Natalia will be working in the GMOS-Train in a project that aims to clarify the marine biogeochemical cycle of mercury by 1) Refining the Hg flux at the ocean-atmosphere interface, 2) Mapping Hg species in the global ocean and 3) Sampling Hg release from hydrothermal vents.

Project Title: Marine Hg species dynamics and distribution.

Hosting institution: AMU, Marseille, France

Supervisor: Dr. Lars-Eric Heimbürger-Boavida (AMU)

Co-supervisor: D. Amouroux (UPPA); M. Horvat (JSI)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Université d’Aix-Marseille, France

Alina Kleindienst (ESR5)

Alina graduated from the University of Vienna in Austria with a Masters in Environmental Sciences. She has had the great opportunity to work in the research group of Prof. Dr. Stephan M. Kraemer with Dr. Jan Wiederhold on mercury stable isotope signatures. During her master’s thesis, she focused on the long-term mobilization of mercury from HgCl2-contaminated soils by water. Her work aimed to provide new insights on driving factors that lead to the release of Hg into water and the effect of differing geochemical extraction conditions on mercury stable isotopes in solution. She has been focusing on inorganic mercury in terrestrial systems and is now looking forward to expanding her knowledge and expertise to marine systems and organic mercury species.

Her research in the GMOS-TRAIN project will contribute to the understanding of transformation pathways of methylated mercury species in coastal environments.

Project Title: MMHg sources in coastal ecosystem: new molecular and isotopic experimental speciation approaches.

Hosting institution: UPPA, Pau, France

Supervisor: Dr. David Amouroux (UPPA)

Co-supervisor: R. Guyoneaud (UPPA), C. Schrum (Hereon)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, France

Isabel García Arévalo (ESR6)

Isabel graduated from a bachelor in Environmental Engineering at Espiritu Santo University in Ecuador. Her interest in mercury availability in the environment and its study started early on in her career as she participated in projects involving study of heavy metals concentration on pelagic fishes of commercial interest. As part her thesis she did an internship in the Heavy metals Lab of the National’s Fisheries Institute where she focused on researching the concentration of heavy metals in top trophic chain predators as well as bioaccumulation and biomagnification studies. Later on, she tackled anthropogenic and natural risks assessment which lead her to improve her statistical and numerical modeling knowledge while researching on ENSO events in Ecuador.

Her previous research experiences lead her to pursue a Masters in Environmental Sanitation in Ghent University – Belgium, where she was part of the Aquatic ecology group and worked on her thesis in the Crop protection products Lab researching on pesticides bioaccumulation on Red crab from the Guayas River estuary, and develop its respective ecological risk assessment.

Her recent work has focused on deep sea characterization, where she has gained practical knowledge in oceanographic monitoring, participating on several at-sea surveys, and has been trained by the ISA’s contractors training program in at-sea deep sea environmental, geological and biological characterization. Simultaneously, she has been teaching Environmental toxicology and Water management courses in her former bachelor University, where she tutored thesis assessing environmental health issues and gained more interest on solving local environmental problems.

At the moment, she is eager to study the role of marine particles, both living and non-living for marine MMHg production as part of the ESR6 focusing on the study of the uptake, bioconcentration and biomagnification of mercury into phyto- and zooplankton from a multidisciplinary approach and a team filled with different academic backgrounds.

Project Title: Uptake, bioconcentration and biomagnification of mercury into phyto- and zooplankton

Hosting institution: IFREMER, Nantes, France

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Joel Knoery (IFREMER)

Co-supervisor: L.E. Heimbürger-Boavida (AMU), D. Point (CNRS)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: University of Nantes, France

Sonja Gindorf (ESR7)

Sonja graduated from the University of Kiel in Germany with a Masters in Environmetal Management. During an internship at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in 2015 her passion for marine biogeochemistry aroused. She did her bachelor’s thesis in cooperation with the chemical oceanography of GEOMAR on the Temporal variability of N2O distributions and production in the sw Baltic Sea. Her master’s thesis, supervised by Prof. Dr. Hermann Bange and Dr. Annette Kock, was part of the Blue Baltic Project “Bonus Integral”. To investigate the methane variability in the Baltic Sea she developed a purge and trap measurement system within this project. The focus was on understanding the small-scale variability of methane distribution and sea-to-air fluxes in Kiel Bight (sw Baltic Sea).

Due to her passion for marine and ocean science, Sonja has participated in different particals, excursions and summer schools in the respective fields. Moreover, she participated in different cruises in the Baltic Sea and Atlantic Ocean. As a GMOS Train PhD she will focus on terrestrial mercury in coastal and open oceans.

Project Title: The role of terrestrial Hg in coastal and open oceans.

Hosting insitution: Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Supervisor: Dr. Sofi Jonsson (SU)

Co-supervisors: E. Sunderland (Harvard), D. Amouroux (UPPA), L. E. Heimbürger-Boavida (AMU)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Stockholm University, Sweden

Charlotte Haugk (ESR8)

Charlotte graduated from the University of Potsdam in Germany with a Masters in Earth Science. Her interest for permafrost science was initially sparked when attending a permafrost field course at UNiS in Svalbard and she has been passionate about it ever since. She did her master’s thesis at Alfred-Wegener-Institute of Polar and Marine Science (AWI) in Potsdam. Under the supervision of Dr. Jens Strauss and Prof. Dr. Guido Grosse and with association to the CACOON project (Changing Arctic Carbon Cycle in the coastal near-shore) Charlotte was investigating 2 datasets at the land to ocean interface for her masters project: i) terrestrial permafrost samples were analysed for lipid biomarkers and ii) a transect of water samples are analysed for nitrogen compounds and their isotopic composition. The focus was on permafrost organic matter characteristics and implications for the nearshore biogeochemistry at the land to ocean interface in the Lena Delta, Siberia. Charlotte  continues to investigate biogeochemical properties of permafrost with a PhD at Stockholm University as part of the GmosTrain project focussing on mercury release from thawing permafrost. Charlotte has been involved in several science communication projects such as co-organizing workshops series “Make permafrost great again” for high school students and co-managing social media activities of the Nunataryuk project. She is a member of the current PYRN ExCom. Charlotte is especially interested in outreach activities and aspires to be a researcher contributing to meaningful and productive research that will increase our overall understanding of the dynamic processes of Arctic environments and help to address current problems in a changing world.

Project title: Release of mercury from thawing permafrost

Supervisor: Dr. Sofi Jonsson (SU)

Co-supervisors: K. Gårdfeldt (SPRS) and D. Kocman (JSI)

Hosting institution: Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Stockholm University, Sweden

Saeed Waqar Ali (ESR9)

Mercury has been a primary focus of my previous work, some of which were undertaken as part of the mercury research group in Pakistan to estimate mercury exposure in the workplace and from the use of mercury containing products for the ratification of Minamata Convention on Mercury.

I did M.Phil. in Environmental Science from Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad and during my dissertation, I studied the spatial and historical atmospheric mercury trends in the northern and mid-range regions of Pakistan using tree rings, a project that was done in collaboration with Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The aim was to study the influence of global Hg atmospheric cycling as well as local Hg emission sources on the remote and mid-range regions of Pakistan.

When I learned about the GMOS-Train project, I immediately realized its relevance to my previous study on tree rings which was also based on the exchange of Hg between forest canopies and the atmosphere. I knew that this is an ideal opportunity for me to expand my understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the inter-compartmental exchanges and that this project will play a key role in enhancing my scientific knowledge on the topic.

The investigation of terrestrial Hg pools and intercompartmental exchanges with atmosphere and aquatic systems as part of the GMOS-Train project at the Jožef Stefan Institute will be a step toward a better understanding of the role of vegetation in the global Hg biogeochemical cycling.

Project Title: Terrestrial Hg pools inter-compartmental exchanges

Supervisor: Dr. David Kocman (JSI)

Co-supervisors: M. Horvat (JSI), E. Sunderland (Harvard), S. Jonsson (SU)

Hosting institution: JSI, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School – JSIPS, Slovenia

Teodor-Daniel Andron (ESR10)

I have graduated from Alexandru Ioan Cuza University with a Bachelors in chemistry and Masters in environmental chemistry and food safety, both in analytical chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Romeo-Iulian OLARIU. During my Bachelors study cycle I have been a volunteer at the Military Hospital from Iasi and at the Centre of Research in Oenology.
Starting from my first year in the Masters cycle I have been hired as a chemical analyst at the Integrated Center of Environmental Science Studies in the North-East Developmen Region (C.E.R.N.E.S.I.M.). Here I was introduced to the beauty of atmospheric chemistry and this gave me the basic knowledge needed in this field. During my time at C.E.R.N.E.S.I.M. I also worked in the research project IGAC-CYCLO (InvestiGationson the Atmospheric Chemistry of Cyclic Oxygenated hydrocarbons), which was coordinated by Dr. Iustinian-Gabriel BEJAN.
Being a fanatic of analytical devices and having some experience with mercury in the past, I believe the ESR 10 project is suited for me.

Project Title: Traceability of Hg speciation measurements in the atmosphere.

Hosting institution: JSI, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Milena Horvat (JSI)

Co-supervisor: W. Corns

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School – JSIPS, Slovenia

Allwin Mabes Raj (ESR11)

Allwin was born and raised in Madurai, India, where he pursued his undergraduate degree and master’s degree in Zoology from the American College. During his master’s, he worked on “Responses of Short-Nosed fruit bat, Cynopterus sphinx (Vahl 1797) towards their Distress Calls: Field and Laboratory Conditions under the supervision of Dr H. Raghuram and was awarded the first place in his master’s research program. Then, he moved to pursue a study-abroad program with International Exchange Erasmus Students Scholarship at the University of Hildesheim, Germany 2015-16, which was a privilege given for one student in his institution.
Allwin worked as a research fellow, under the supervision of Dr Jeyaprakash Rajendhran where he designed a novel multitope peptide vaccine candidate against Ehrlichia chaffeensis through Reverse Vaccinology and immunoinformatics approach by Identification of potential antigens from classical and non-classically secreted proteins. He also cleared TN-SET-2016, state-level eligibility test for Professorship in Tamilnadu, India.
Allwin was selected under the Department of Biotechnology, India – Junior Research Fellowship and worked in the Department of Genetics, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University. Prof. P. Gunasekaran Ph.D., D.Sc was his co-investigator with whom he worked on an Indo-UK project, Rice fuel: Engineering expression system using a heterologous host during which he gained experience in discovery, cloning, expression and characterization of recombitant proteins.
“A hug without U is toxic” Allwin’s research in the GMOS-TRAIN project will contribute to the elimination of toxic hg through detection of methylated mercury species in coastal environments using nano-biosensor.
When he is not doing science, he likes to write poetry, read books and watch movies, even the crappy ones.

Project Title: Innovative nano-biosensors detecting MMHg

Hosting institution: JSI, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Aleksandra Lobnik (IOS)

Co-supervisors: A. Lapanje (JSI)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Jožef Stefan

International Postgraduate School – JSIPS, Slovenia

Prasad Shelke (ESR12 – departed in May 2022)

Prasad graduated from the Department of Atmospheric and Space Sciences, SPPU, India with a masters in Atmospheric Science. His main area of expertise is Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction. He completed his research for masters thesis at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune under the supervision of Dr. M. M. Ali and Prof. P. Pradeepkumar. His masters thesis based on the Predictability of Indian Summer Monsoon using Ocean Mean Temperature of Pacific Ocean. In his research work, he performed different experiments showing efficiency of Ocean heat content and subsurface ocean characteristics from Pacific Ocean for improving prediction skills of Indian Summer Monsoon. He also completed research internship at IITM. In his research activities for internship, he developed several algorithms to study applications of Ocean Mean Temperature for Monsoon and Cyclone studies.

During his research activities he developed an interest in Regional Modeling for Weather Research and Forecasting. Apart from Academics, he is an Athelete, Dancer and a writer too. He used to cherish his extra-curriculum with all such activities.

His research in GMOS-TRAIN project will contribute towards quantifying impact of oceanic sources on the regional Mercury budget. Prasad looks forward to a long-term career in the field of Mercury research.

Project title: Regional 3D atmosphere  and ocean models to quantify the impact of oceanic sources on the regional Hg budget.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Nicola Pirrone (CNR-IIA)

Co-supervisors: I. M. Hedgecock (CNR), V. Matthias (Hereon)

Hosting institution: CNR-IIA, Rome, Italy

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School – JSIPS, Slovenia

Jared Walsh (ESR12 – joined in October 2023)

Jared has a multidisciplinary background, originating from an Applied Geology BSc at the University of Johannesburg, and later switching to Marine Geochemistry and Palaeoceanography for my MSc at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His MSc work primarily focused on Plio-Pleistocene palaeoenvironmental reconstructions for the western continental shelf of South Africa using foraminifera as palaeoproxies. His research also investigated the evolution of the Benguela Upwelling System through the lens of foraminiferal assemblages, adding the much-needed multiproxy element to the existing palaeo-studies in the region. During his MSc, he joined GEOTRACES South Africa on a winter cruise to the Southern Ocean and the Marginal Ice Zone of Antarctica, where he sampled for marine Mercury and various other trace metals. Following the voyage, he developed a deep fascination with Mercury biogeochemistry. He developed strong relationships with South African Mercury researchers at SAWS, CSIR, and Stellenbosch University, as well as international collaborators from GMOS-Train and Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon. Through these relationships and his passion for Mercury research, he finds himself fortunate enough to continue in this field for his Ph.D.

Project title: Regional 3D atmosphere and ocean models to quantify the impact of oceanic sources on the regional Hg budget

Supervisor: Johannes Bieser (Hereon)

Co-supervisors: O. Travnikov (JSI), Volker Matthias (Hereon)

Hosting institution: Hereon, Germany

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: University of Hamburg, Germany

David Amptmeijer (ESR13)

I studied Molecular Biology for my bachelor at the University of Groningen (RUG) with a minor in Arctic Biology at the University Institute Svalbard (UNIS).
For my MSc, I switched to Marine Biology and did two major projects. The first was in Iron Binding Ligands in the Transpolar Drift working at the Dutch Institute for Marine Research (NIOZ) and the second project was in Bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants in Ryder Bay, Antarctica working for the University of Wageningen (WUR) in cooperation with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). I finished my MSc with a thesis about persistent organic pollutants.
During my studies, I developed a strong interest in computational biology and modelling as this allowed me to investigate and evaluate the obtained data in great detail. I made models for several projects, including analyses of salt marshes for coastal protection, the importance of manganese
nodules for deep-sea ecosystem structure, and the flux of persistent organic pollutants.
I most enjoyed the pollution modeling because of the environmental relevance. Because of this, I continued working in this field and got a job at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon in modeling the bioaccumulation of methylated mercury. This job allowed me to successfully apply to GMOS-Train ESR13 in the same subject.

Project Title: Modelling methylation and bio-accumulation of Hg in the marine environment.

Hosting institution: Hereon, Germany

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Corinna Schrum (Hereon)

Co-supervisors: J. Bieser (Hereon),  J. Knoery (IFREMER)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: University of Hamburg, Germany

Koketso Michelle Molepo (ESR14)

Koketso graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa with a Masters in Environmental & Geographical Sciences. Her main research interest is air quality modeling and data analysis. For her Masters thesis, under the supervision of Associate Professor Babatunde Abiodun, she investigated the transport of PM10 over Cape Town during high pollution episodes in the city. In the study she used a combination of observation data as well as model simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) and the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory Model (HYSPLIT). She is looking forward to learning more air quality modeling tools during her PhD with GMOS-Train.

After completing her Masters, Koketso worked as a Research Assistant at the Air Quality Laboratory at the Scientific Services Branch of the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality (South Africa), between September 2019 and August 2020. There, she was responsible for coordinating some of the City of Cape Town’s air quality monitoring stations and was involved air quality modeling and monitoring research projects. Outside of academia, Koketso enjoys indoor climbing, hiking and reading science fiction books.

Koketso’s research project in the GMOS-Train will contribute towards improving our understanding of the ocean-atmosphere Hg exchange processes.

Project Title: Exploration of long-term observational data sets to examine ocean/atmosphere exchange processes of Hg.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ralf Ebinghaus (Hereon)

Co-supervisors: A. Dommergue (UGA), and N. E. Selin (MIT)

Hosting institution: Hereon, Germany

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: University of Hamburg, Germany

Charikleia Gournia (ESR15)

Charikleia Gournia holds a four-year degree in Mathematics combined with further post graduate studies in Environmental Sciences. She had the opportunity to do her master’s thesis at the Laboratory of Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography of Department of Geology at University of Patras in Greece and be supervised by Prof.Dr. George Papatheodorou. Her thesis research published in Geosciences Journal describes the design and implementation of a new method for quantifying and visualization the stress of human activities in the marine environment using large image and numerical data. Charikleia is passionate about multidisciplinary topics where she can combine and expand her knowledge. As a doctoral student in the GMOS-train project she will focus on modelling and simulation studies on a global scale.

Project Title: Global Hg modelling to test scenarios and Hg reduction strategies.

Hosting institution: CNR-IIA, Rome, Italy 

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Nicola Pirrone (CNR-IIA)

Co-supervisor: N. E. Selin (MIT), V. Matthias (Hereon)

Enrolment in Doctoral degree: Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School – JSIPS, Slovenia