The Young Academy of Slovenia (Mlada akademija, MA)

is a successor of the Slovenian Society of Young Researchers (DMRS), which was established in 1995. In 2016, after twenty years of work, we decided to expand our activity to address the early-career researchers – those who have just received their PhDs and are beginning to make their way in the research community or the private sector. All the society’s members do their work on a voluntary basis. In 2018 we were granted the status of an NGO operating in the public interest.

About the Society

The main purpose of the society is to bring together doctoral students and early-career researchers or young professionals working in research or education in Slovenia and Slovenians working in those fields abroad.

The society organises educational events on research topics and represents the interests of its members in the public sphere and as a stakeholder in the creation of the Slovenian research and educational policies.

We are committed to establishing a merit-based evaluation of scientific performance, rewarding practices, and promotion in higher education and research. We wish to play our part in creating a long-term and intergenerationally responsible research and higher education policy in Slovenia.

The Young Academy of Slovenia is a member of Eurodoc – European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers.


In 2022, we also joined the Slovenian Open Science Community and the CoARA Coalition, which has been preparing a reform of research assessment in Europe.

Slovenska skupnost odprte znanosti logo
CoARA Coalition logo
Our Main Tasks
  • striving for quality doctoral research and high-level research activity, and their relevance for society and economy;
  • popularisation of the basic and applicative research and innovation activities and organisation of professional and social meetings;
  • representing the interests of its members in the public sphere and cooperating with similar organisations in Slovenia and abroad;
  • informing the members of research-related tenders and events.
Principles That Guide Our Work

Vodstvo in člani Društva pri sprejemanju odločitev o upravljanju, delovanju in financiranju slovenskega visokošolskega in raziskovalnega sistema zagovarjamo naslednja načela:

  • avtonomija vedno skupaj z odgovornostjo,
  • integriteta,
  • transparentnost,
  • kakovost pred količino in pred senioriteto,
  • na analizah temelječa vizija pred ad hoc politiko.
Working Groups

Science policy

  • dr. Matic Lozinšek
  • Sebastian Dahle, dr. rer. nat. (Germany)
  • Marko Drobnjak
  • dr. Jure Mravlje
  • dr. Majda Pavlin
  • Maya Petek, PhD (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

Research assessment

  • Sebastian Dahle, dr. rer. nat. (Germany)
  • dr. Matic Lozinšek
  • dr. Majda Pavlin
  • Maya Petek, PhD (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)


  • dr. Urška Slapšak
  • dr. Majda Pavlin
  • Matja Zalar, PhD (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • dr. Alja Čontala

Mental health

  • Matja Zalar, PhD (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • dr. Urška Slapšak
  • dr. Ivana Jovčevska
  • dr. Katarina Kouter
  • Davor Škofič Maurer, PhD (Austria)
  • Jana Verbančič, PhD (Germany)
  • dr. Alja Čontala
  • Barbara Drole

Open science

  • dr. Ana Slavec
  • Sebastian Dahle, dr. rer. nat. (Germany)
  • Maja Dolinar


  • dr. Danila Rijavec

Join us and help us shape the future of early-career researchers by contributing your views!

Management Board (MB)

Dr. Jure Mravlje (Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana) - President

Dr. Jure Mravlje took over the presidency in December 2022 after being a member of the MB since December 2021. He has been working as an early-career researcher and a member of the Plant Physiology Group at the Department of Biology at the Biotechnical Faculty since 2019. He defended his thesis in 2023. Throughout his graduate and postgraduate studies, he has been a passionate students’ representative. He was the president of the Student Council at the Biotechnical Faculty for 3 years (2016–2019) and a member of the Student Council of the University of Ljubljana for 2 years (2017–2019). He was also a member of the Senate of the Biotechnical Faculty (2014–2019) and the Senate of the University of Ljubljana (2016–2019) as well as many other bodies both at the Biotechnical Faculty and the University of Ljubljana. This brough him many experiences with the issues that students at all stages of their higher education may face. From 2020 onwards, he is the student representative at the Commission for Doctoral Studies at the University of Ljubljana. Apart from working as a researcher and an educator at the Biotechnical Faculty, he also helps teach aspiring pupils and secondary school students who are interested in pursuing biology or other natural sciences as their careers.

Maya Petek, PhD (Faculty of Medicine, University of Maribor) - Vice-President

Maya Petek, PhD, is a member of the MB since 2021. She received her higher education in the United Kingdom, culminating in a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Now she works as a researcher at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Maribor. She became an active member of the society upon her return to Slovenia at the end of 2020. She is interested in scientific policy, removing administrative barriers, and encouraging the circulation of knowledge and experts between Slovenia and the international research community.

Matja Zalar, PhD (Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Maribor)

Matja ZalarMatja Zalar, PhD is a member of the society since 2016. She is interested in mental health and scientific policy but takes particular interest in the knowledge circulation between Slovenia and foreign countries, introduction of good research practices into the Slovenian research and scientific sphere, and re(integration) of scientists into the Slovenian research sphere. Matja was an early-career researcher at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, where she received her PhD in biotechnology in 2020 as part of the international Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks project PIPPI (Protein-Excipient Interactions and Protein-Protein Interactions in Formulation). After postdoctoral positions at Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, University of Manchester, she returned to Slovenia to the University of Maribor with the help of the Aleš Debeljak Scheme. She is the coordinator for the Young Academy of Slovenia Mental Health Working Group and a member of the Mental Health Working Group at Eurodoc.

Dr. Majda Pavlin (Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute)

Dr. Majda Pavlin is a member of the society’s Supervisory Board from 2017. She presided over the committee of evaluators for the Mentor of the Year Award in 2018. As an early-career researcher, she worked at the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Jožef Stefan Institute. As a former president of the IPS Student Council, she is well familiar with the issues concerning doctoral students. She received her PhD in 2018 in Ecotechnology from the Jožef Stefan IPS and has been working as a researcher at the Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute since 2019. Apart from being a mom, which takes up much of her free time nowadays, she is also actively involved in the Science on the Street, Knowledge and Ideas on the Go action, devoted to promoting science in the public sphere.

Dr. Alja Čontala (The University of Toledo, Ohio, USA)

Danila RijavecAfter finishing chemistry studies at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Maribor, Alja Čontala decided to continue her journey as a young researcher at the Advanced Materials Department at the “Jožef Stefan” Institute and International Postgraduate School. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Toledo, USA. For the time of her undergraduate studies, she worked in faculty bodies. She has been a member of the Young Academy since 2022 and works as part of the working group for mental health, but is also interested in mentoring and leadership, organization of doctoral studies, and communication. She wants to bring compassion back to science, raise awareness of its importance to the general public, and inspire younger generations about it.

Tinca Lukan (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana)
Tinca LukanTinca Lukan is a Young Researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences and visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam, where she studies the present and future of work on the example of the economy of creators and influencers. Within the Young Academy of Slovenia, she works on the labor market and new forms of science communication.

Supervisory Board (SB)

Dr. Matic Lozinšek ("Jožef Stefan" Institute)

Dr. Matic Lozinšek was a member of the society’s MB from 2017 to 2021. He is interested in science policy, especially in connection with early-career researchers. In 2018 he filled in for the position of dr. Jernej Zupanc at a working group dedicated to preparing the proposal for the Scientific Research and Innovation Activities Act. Matic was an early-career researcher at the Department of Inorganic Chemistry and Technology at the Jožef Stefan Institute. He received his PhD in chemistry from the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana. In 2014 and 2015 he continued his education in Canada after receiving the Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship. He works as a researcher at the Jožef Stefan Institute where he and his colleagues received the Director’s Fund Grant in 2019 to found the Extreme Conditions Chemistry Laboratory at the institute. In 2020 he also received the ERC Starting Grant.

Dr. Ana Slavec (University of Primorska and InnoRenew CoE center of excellence)

Dr. Ana Slavec was a member of the Management Board of the Young Academy in the terms of 2015-2017 and 2017-2019, the president of the evaluation committee for the Mentor of the year 2015 award, and a member of the supervisory committee in the terms of 2019-2020 and 2023-2024. From 2018 onwards, she led the Young Academy’s working group for open science, and in 2018 and 2019 she also co-coordinated Eurodoc’s working group for open science and  conducted training for open science ambassadors. Since 2020, she has been a member of the MB COST Action Researcher Mental Health (CA19117). From 2015 to 2019, she was the co-host of MetaPHoDcast on Meta’s List. She was a young researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences of UL, where she received her doctorate in statistics, and is currently an assistant professor at the Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technology of the University of Primorska and a researcher at the InnoRenew CoE center of excellence in Izola.

Dr. Danila Rijavec (Faculty of Public Administration, University of Ljubljana)

Danila RijavecDanila Rijavec was a member of the society’s MB from December 2019 to December 2022. In 2022, she finished her PhD thesis on administrative science through the lens of crisis management at the Faculty of Public Administration, University of Ljubljana. In her research, she focuses on smaller countries and their limitations in responding to larger crises, contrasting the smaller countries’ responses with those of bigger countries. She is active in the larger international research sphere and participates in the Jean Monnet Networks as an early-career researcher. She is a member of the faculty commissions for doctoral studies and scientific research activities. From July 2020 to December 2022 she was the coordinator for the Mobility Working Group at Eurodoc, and from July 2021 to December 2022 she also acted as an Administrative Board member and the Treasurer of the same organisation. As a member of Eurodoc, she has been a guest at multiple events addressing the topics of training for early-career researchers, which were organised in cooperation with Elsevier, EUA, The Guild, and ELITE Network.

Dr. Rok Novak ("Jožef Stefan" Institute)

Dr. Rok Novak became a member of the Young Academy of Slovenia in 2019 and has been actively participating in the society’s activities since the middle of 2021 when he was elected to the MB. He is mostly interested in science policy, both in the systemic changes within the scientific community and the relationship between the scientific community and the state. He has first-hand knowledge of the issues faced by doctoral students as he was the president of the IPS Student Council. In the past years, he has become increasingly involved with science communication.

Marko Drobnjak (ARNES, doctoral candidate at the Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana)

Marko Drobnjak acted as a public relations coordinator for the society from 2019 to 2021. He is most interested in science policy as he maintains that properly financed and successful scientific activity within all scientific disciplines drives societal progress. Since 2018 he has been an early-career researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana. In his research, he focuses primarily on the role and perception of speech and language in legal procedures in general and is also working on automatic speech recognition systems. He uses the methodology developed by computational linguists and is currently undergoing research training as a Fulbright Visiting Student Researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also finishing his PhD thesis. In 2020 he became one of the hosts for the Meta PHoDcast. In October 2022 he started the position of open science specialist at the Academic and Research Network of Slovenia – ARNES.

Other Active Members and External Collaborators

Our PR Team
  • Dr. Rok Novak in Dr. Alja Čontala- Facebook
  • Tinca Lukan in Dr. Alja Čontala- LinkedIn
  • Dr. Alja Čontala – webpage
  • Matja Zalar, PhD – YouTube
  • Dr. Ana Slavec – Doktorska klepetalnica
In Cooperation With
  • Maša Mlakar, mag. angl. – EN/SL translation, EN proofreading
  • Simon Zidar, dipl. biol. (UN) – graphic design
  • Nina Lenarčič Jankovič, Majanafin d.o.o. – accounting
  • Maja Ratej (Val 202), Renata Dacinger (RTV SLO), Anja Suvorov (RTV SLO), Mojca Delač (Radio Prvi), dr. Ambrož Kvartič (Radio Ars), Lea Udovč (N1) – professional event moderation
  • Studio Železna – photography
  • VideoLectures – event filming, livestreaming