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INSTITUTIONAL INTERVIEWS - 2008

University of Maribor University of Maribor
A featured institution selection from Essential Science IndicatorsSM

According to a recent analysis of data from Essential Science Indicators from Thomson Reuters, the University of Maribor has entered the top 1% of institutions in the field of Physics—and of the nine institutions entering the top 1% in this field, the University of Maribor did so with the highest number of citations.


The University's current citation record in Physics includes 511 papers cited 4,580 times between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 2007. In addition to these papers, officials at the university have also identified 50 other papers with a total of 526 citations, which have been classified in other fields in the database but that actually stem from their physicists.

In the interview below, Prof. Dr. Natasa Vaupotic, the Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, talks with ScienceWatch.com about the development of physics research at the University of Maribor.

Are there specific areas of research within the realm of Physics on which the University of Maribor particularly focuses?

The physicists at the University of Maribor work in the following major fields: theoretical physics, medium- and high-energy physics, experimental physics of elementary particles, condensed and soft matter physics, and biophysics.

How do you account for the University of Maribor's increase in the number of citations in the field of Physics in recent years? Does this reflect a deliberate plan to enhance the University's research effort in this field, or was this an unexpectedly happy development? What factors or circumstances led the University to its work in this field?

The increase in the number of citations is due to the systematic development of research in physics. In the past there were only a few physicists at the University of Maribor and they were only a support to study programs and research at the technical faculties which cover the fields of electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering.

In the past two decades several new physicists came to the University whose research work was originally strongly connected to the research at the Institute Jozef Stefan in Ljubljana. Although most of the physicists in Maribor are still partly engaged in the research at that institute, they have, in these years, developed their unique field of research at the University of Maribor, and can now be considered in an equal partnership with the Institute Jozef Stefan in the fields of condensed and soft matter physics and biophysics.

The development of theoretical physics began in the 1990s when the Center for Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics was established at the University of Maribor. The Center has since become a frontier center in theoretical physics in Slovenia. Several top scientists in the field of theoretical physics are originating from this Center, beginning their research work in the Center as young researchers or postdocs from Slovenia and from abroad (Italy, Germany, Belarus, PR China, and Singapore).

The field of biophysics started to develop at the University of Maribor in the 1990s with the first graduate students of physics at the University. At that time the graduate study of physics was at the Faculty of Education, the faculty which, in 2007, transformed into several faculties, one of them being the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Research in biophysics was further enhanced by the establishment of the Medical Faculty in 2003 and the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2007. At this stage the University of Maribor is becoming an important institution in the field of biophysics.

Medium- and high-energy physics has developed at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering within a research group that includes Universities of Maribor, Ljubljana, and Nova Gorica, as well as the Institute Jozef Stefan.

Research in experimental physics of elementary particles is a result of the international collaborations, primarily with the Bell Collaboration and the HERAB Collaboration.

What is your prediction for the state of our knowledge about this particular field 10 years from now?

We are now preparing a new Ph.D. study program in Physics, which is going to bring all physicists at the University of Maribor together. We are also working on the improvement of our research infrastructure (laboratories). So, because of all these activities we can safely predict that the research in physics is going to further increase at the University in the coming years.

What research fields or capabilities do you see as critical for the future of the University? What are the implications of the University's work for the future of this particular field or neighboring fields?

All the research fields discussed above are essential for the future development of the University of Maribor. However, the fields that are inherent to our university—namely theoretical physics, condensed and soft matter physics, and biophysics—are those in which the University endeavors to become even better known in the international physical community, by offering these areas even stronger support.

The graduate studies of Physics at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the graduate studies at the Medical and Engineering Faculties will lead to new doctors of science in the field of physics and related fields, especially in the context of interdisciplinary research. This will increase the number of researchers in the fields and will foster infrastructure and research in the natural sciences. We believe that interdisciplinary physics is going to become the dominant and strongest research and educational activity in physics at the University of Maribor, in which the Center for Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics continues to play a key role, also by organizing international scientific conferences and schools.

Prof. Dr. Natasa Vaupotic, Dean
Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
University of Maribor
Maribor, Slovenia

University of Maribor's most-cited paper with 240 cites to date:
Cvetic M, Shiu G, Uranga AM, “Chiral four-dimensional N=1 supersymmetric type IIA orientifolds from intersecting D6-branes,” Nucl. Phys. B 615(1-3): 3-32, 12 November 2001. Source: Essential Science Indicators from Thomson Reuters.

Keywords: theoretical physics, medium-energy physics, high-energy physics, elementary particles, condensed and soft matter physics, biophysics, interdisciplinary research.

 



Institutional Interviews : 2008 : 2008 May - University of Maribor
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