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The most outstanding research achievements

The most outstanding research achievements

Authors: Ivana Jovović, prof. dr. Andreja Cirman, prof. dr. Nevenka Hrovatin, prof. dr. Jelena Zorič

Most studies in the field have established the considerable potential for cost-efficient energy savings in households that can be realised through energy-efficient retrofits, the right choice of heating system, energy-efficient behaviours and other measures. Nevertheless, energy-saving potentials remain largely unexploited, with the academic literature referring to the gap between optimal and actual consumption as the ‘energy-efficiency gap.’ To achieve the goal of a climate-neutral European Union by 2050, the gap in the residential sector will have to be eliminated, which is a major challenge.

This study contributes to the literature on the energy-efficiency gap by examining the new influential factors of retrofitting decision-making and energy-efficient behaviours: social capital and housing-related lifestyles. The results of the study show that, in Slovenian households, the socio-demographic and economic characteristics of decision-makers and the characteristics of building and location do not suffice on their own to explain decisions on whether to undertake energy-efficient retrofits. The findings of the econometric analysis using the retrospective panel data model indicate that housing-related lifestyle has a positive impact, particularly energy-saving behaviour and a proclivity for ‘do-it-yourself’ home maintenance and repairs. It also confirms the positive impact of social capital, particularly ease of agreement among residents and the formal organisation of the building. Income, age of the respondent, age of the dwelling, previous renovations and the availability of subsidies are also important drivers of energy-efficient retrofits, while high regional temperatures and negative economic growth are barriers to energy-efficient retrofits. The results of the study therefore highlight the need for a policy mix involving education and information campaigns, subsidies for energy-efficient retrofits, and measures that promote better formal organisation of buildings and the construction of community. Implementation of these recommendations would improve decision-making, and contribute to the achievement of energy-efficiency and sustainable development targets in households.

Source: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/just_thinking_about_cooperation_can_make_you_less_prejudiced

Source: Jovović, I., Cirman, A., Hrovatin, N., Zorić, J. (2023), Do social capital and housing-related lifestyle foster energy-efficient retrofits? Retrospective panel data evidence from Slovenia. Energy Policy, 69(113651). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113651

Authors: asst. prof. dr. Danijel Crnčec, assoc. prof. dr. Jerneja Penca, assoc. prof. dr. Marko Lovec

This paper discusses the implications of the EU’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic on the green transition as set out in the European Green Deal (EGD). It distinguishes between changes at the levels of public policy (first order), governance principles (second order) and the ranking of priorities (third order), and assesses the extent of the changes and the patterns and regional variations among Member States, together with the Commission’s role in pushing for energy policy choices and encouraging greater ambition among Member States. The analysis shows that the Energy Union framework promoted the full integration of the climate targets into policy instruments (first order of change) even before the European Green Deal, but that the EU’s response to Covid-19 created strong financial and public policy leverage to accelerate the green transition and provided an opportunity to close the gap between less and more ambitious Member States. Many countries traditionally reliant on EU funds seized this opportunity, demonstrating the role of changed governance principles (the second order of change). However, the crisis had an evolutionary and not a revolutionary impact. While coherence between the energy and climate goals remains high, the energy transition is falling short in fully integrating biodiversity (which would constitute a full paradigmatic, third-order change), despite this being an essential component of green transition.
The paper addresses the current topic of the EU’s energy and climate transition, and incorporates the latest findings from several disciplines. It shows how to reduce differences between EU Member States and is particularly relevant to Slovenia, where the energy and climate targets come into conflict with the fact that a large portion of Slovenia is covered by protected areas (Natura 2000 areas cover 38% of the country).

Source: Crnčec, D., Penca, J., Lovec, M. (2023), The COVID-19 pandemic and the EU: From a sustainable energy transition to a green transition? Energy Policy, 175, 113453, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113453.

Authors: prof. dr. Jaka Sodnik, assoc. prof. dr. Nadica Miljković

Researchers from the Information Technology Laboratory at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering have developed a method for automatically calculating fitness to drive in patients with neurological impairment. Fitness to drive is established with the help of a simulated driving environment in which the doctor carries out a series of tests on a patient in order to assess their sensomotoric and cognitive functions. This new method is based on calculating the ‘time to fixate’ (TTF) using eye-tracking data, which continuously records from the patient’s point of view in a simulated driving environment. TTF is the interval between a selected stimulus first appearing in a test subject’s field of vision and the moment they notice it and turn their gaze towards it.
Fifty-six patients were studied, and their fitness, unfitness and conditional fitness to drive assessed. To analyse the video recordings of the patients’ vision, we employed a machine-learning method that identifies the overlap between the gaze position and the regions of interest in the simulation. TTF was significantly longer in patients who were diagnosed as being unfit to drive with the aid of reference tests than in drivers in the control group. Although we demonstrated the usefulness of the method on neurological patients, we believe it would be useful for anyone whose fitness to drive is called into question because of a deterioration of their basic sensomotoric and cognitive functions.

The paper was published in Springer’s highest-ranked journal for mathematical and experimental psychology.

Source: Miljković, N., Sodnik, J. Effectiveness of a time to fixate for fitness to drive evaluation in neurological patients. Behavior Research Methods. 2023, Vol , pp. 1–16, illustrated. ISSN 1554-3528. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-023-02177-3

 

Authors: dr. Floriana Coppola, dr. Luca Frigau, dr. Jernej Markelj, dr. Jasna Malešič, prof. dr. Claudio Conversano, prof. dr. Matija Strlič

Along with her co-authors, Dr Floriana Coppola, post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana, has made a major breakthrough as part of the EU’s prestigious Marie Curie programme. By researching the background of the new methodology for dating paper, she has, in collaboration with the University of Cagliari and the National and University Library (NUK), proved that paper can be dated extremely precisely (within two years). Such low uncertainty is not possible with any other existing method, such as radiocarbon dating.

The research involved the spectroscopic analysis of 100 books from the general collection at NUK published between 1851 and 2000, which represents the transitional period of paper-making. On the basis of 3,000 NIR spectra and analysis using three machine-learning algorithms, the study showed how changes in paper composition and natural degradation affect dating models. The joint spectral features of cellulose and protein structures are more important for accuracy of prediction than degradation. The research is based on a new field of research of importance to cultural heritage, forensics, data analysis and the chemistry of materials.

The study was published in the eminent Journal of the American Chemical Society (IF 16,4), and was also summarised in the prestigious journal Nature Chemistry (IF 24,3) on 12 June 2023.

Source: Coppola, F., Frigau, L., Markelj, J., Malešič, J., Conversano, C., Strlič, M. (2023). Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Machine Learning for Accurate Dating of Historical Books. Journal of the American Chemical Society 145(22), 12305–12314. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jacs.3c02835

Authors: asst. prof. dr. Jana Faganeli Pucer, Peter Mlakar

The accuracy of meteorological forecasts is becoming crucial for the timely planning and implementation of measures in response to weather phenomena, including in relation to climate change. The biggest problem with classic meteorological models is its low definition (20 km x 20 km), which makes more accurate forecasting impossible, particularly in areas of rugged terrain.

The authors have developed the ANET (Atmosphere NETwork) method, which is based on a neural network (Figure 1). It differs from conventional methods chiefly because it is able to forecast weather data for several locations at the same time, for an entire time sample and with greater definition. At the heart of the ANET method is the use of normalising flows, which enables a more flexible description of the distribution of weather variables and more accurate forecasting (Figure 2).

The European and Slovenian research community (a co-author of both papers, Janko Merše, is employed at the Slovenian Environment Agency, ARSO) has recognised ANET as a reference method for comparing and evaluating new methods of post-processing of meteorological forecasts. The co-authorship of the publication of the EUPPBench database and the results of the evaluation of the ANET method in Earth System Science Data, which is the second journal in the field of meteorology in terms of impact factor, also demonstrates the quality and importance of this research work and the contribution it makes to an understanding of weather phenomena and climate change.

Sources:

DEMAEYER, J., BHEND, J., LERCH, S., PRIMO, C., VAN SCHAEYBROECK, B., ATENCIA, A., BOUALLÈGUE, Z. B., CHEN, J., DABERNIG, M., EVANS, G., FAGANELI PUCER, J., HOOPER, B., HORAT, N., JOBST, D., MERŠE, J., MLAKAR, P., MÖLLER, A., MESTRE, O., TAILLARDAT, M., VANNITSEM, S. The EUPPBench postprocessing benchmark dataset v1.0. Earth System Science Data, 2023, 15(6):2635-2653, doi: 10.5194/essd-2022-465. [COBISS.SI-ID 157415427], A'', IF(2022)=11,4 (2/94 Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences), Google h-5 journal index: 78

MLAKAR, P., MERŠE, J., FAGANELI PUCER, J. Ensemble weather forecast post-processing with a flexible probabilistic neural network approach, arXiv [preprint], https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2303.17610, 2023.

Project leader: prof. dr. Tomaž Katrašnik

Authors: dr. Klemen Zelič, Igor Mele, dr. Jože Moškon, dr. Francisco Ruiz-Zepeda, asst. prof. dr. Arghya Bhowmik, prof. dr. Miran Gaberšček

Researchers at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, the National Institute of Chemistry and the Technical University of Denmark have managed to shift the borders of our understanding of the electrochemical response of phase-separating battery materials. Based on innovative derivations of the fundamental thermodynamics of materials, electrochemical measurements, advanced microscopy and the most sophisticated simulation models, they have, in the case of LiFePO4 materials, discovered and explained for the first time the electrochemical responses of the intraparticle phase-separated state. They have therefore discovered that an electrode, if located in an intraparticle or interparticle separated state [1], has different chemical potentials, and therefore different electrical potentials, with the same depth of discharge and at the same temperature (Figure 1). As a specific example of entry into an intra-particle separated state, they have further shown that it is possible to enter voltage hysteresis during dynamic battery operation (Figure 1) [1], which was previously considered to be the area in which the battery was unable to operate at base currents. They also confirmed, through experiments and modelling, that both states were characterised by a markedly different electrode impedance response [1, 2] and showed for the first time the surprising result of inductive behaviour of a phase-separating material in the low-frequency part of the spectrum [2]. These discoveries shift the boundaries of our understanding of the electrochemistry of phase-separating materials and open up the possibility of advanced control and diagnostics of batteries and virtual sensors, which is one of the breakthrough areas in battery systems development and one in which the authors are participating in more than ten EU projects.

Sources:

[1] KATRAŠNIK, T., MOŠKON, J., ZELIČ, K., MELE, I., RUIZ-ZEPEDA, F., GABERŠČEK, M. Entering voltage hysteresis in phase-separating materials: revealing the electrochemical signature of the intraparticle phase-separated state. Advanced Materials. [Online ed.]. August 2023, Vol 35, iss. 31, [article no] 2210937, pp. 1–18, illustrated. ISSN 1521-4095. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.202210937, DOI: 10.1002/adma.202210937 (JCR IF= 29.4)

[2] ZELIČ, K., MELE, I., BHOWMIK, A., KATRAŠNIK, T. Phase separating electrode materials – chemical inductors? Energy Storage Materials. February 2023, Vol 56, pp. 489–494, illustrated. ISSN 2405-8297. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405829723000090, DOI: 10.1016/j.ensm.2023.01.008 (JCR IF= 20.4)

Project leader: prof. dr. Nike Kocijančič Pokorn

Avtorji_ice: assoc. prof. dr. Kozma Ahačič, Kasilda Bedenk, assoc. prof. dr. Andrej Blatnik, prof. dr. Mileva Blažič, Biserka Bobnar, Nina Brezar, Katarina Čobec, assoc. prof. dr. Marijan Dović, Branko Gradišnik, asst. prof. dr. Robert Grošelj, prof. dr. Miran Hladnik, Iztok Ilc, prof. dr. Miha Javornik, akad. prof. dr. Marko Jesenšek, prof. dr. Marko Juvan, prof. dr. Nike Kocijančič Pokorn, dr. Melita Koletnik, prof. dr. Miha Kovač, akad. prof. dr. Jože Krašovec, dr. Domen Krvina, prof. dr. Andreas Leben, asst. prof. dr. Amalija Maček, Tina Mahkota, akad. prof. dr. Igor Maver, assoc. prof. dr. Aleš Maver, assoc. prof. dr. Majda Merše, asst. prof. dr. Adriana Mezeg, assoc. prof. dr. Tamara Mikolič Južnič, asst. prof. dr. Tjaša Mohar, asst. prof. dr. David Movrin, prof. dr. Irena Novak Popov, asst. prof. dr. Matija Ogrin, assoc. prof. dr. Tomaž Onič, asst. prof. dr. Silvana Orel Kos, Tadej Pahor, asst. prof. dr. Nina Petek, Tanja Petrič, dr. Andreja Pignar Tomanič, prof. dr. Agnes Pisanski Peterlin, asst. prof. dr. Blaž Podlesnik, mag. Aleš Pogačnik, asst. prof. dr. Damjan Popič, dr. Mojca Pretnar, prof. dr. Irena Prosenc, asst. prof. dr. Luka Repanšek, Julija Rozman, asst. prof. dr. Špela Sevšek Šramel, prof. dr. Tone Smolej, Janž Snoj, prof. dr. Vid Snoj, assoc. prof. dr. Đurđa Strsoglavec, assoc. prof. dr. Namita Subitto, assoc. prof. dr. Maja Šabec, asst. prof. dr. Jana Šnyova, dr. Janko Trupej, dr. Jerneja Umer Kljun, asst. prof. dr. Luka Vidmar, Benjamin Virc, dr. Urša Vogrinc Javoršek, Zarja Vršič, dr. Judit Zágorec-Csuka, asst. prof. dr. Marija Zlatnar Moe, asst. prof. dr. Simon Zupan, prof. dr. Tanja Žigon

Zgodovina slovenskega literarnega prevoda [History of Slovene Literary Translation], published by Cankarjeva založba and Znanstvena založba FF UL, contains 125 chapters that shed light on the role of translation in the development of Slovene literature, language and culture and examines the connections between Slovene culture and foreign cultures, in this way contributing to the visibility and recognition of literary translators.
The work presents the results of several years of research by 64 experts, and covers translations into and from Slovene of literary texts and important religious and theoretical texts. Consequently, it is not limited to translation activity within the territory of the Republic of Slovenia but also looks at literary translation in Slovene national minorities in other countries and in emigrant communities, in other words in all environments in which the Slovene language has been part of the translation process.
The monograph provides a chronological overview of literary translation from the oldest translations of religious texts in the Middle Ages to the period after Slovenia gained independence. It presents translation exchanges with 19 other languages, offers profiles of the characteristics of literary translation by genres (from fantasy to texts set to music), sheds light on the process of translating selected authors of national importance and introduces some of the more prominent Slovene literary translators.
The monograph has a supporting website (www.zgoslip.si) in Slovene and English, with chapter summaries, a bibliography of Slovene translatological research, and a chronological presentation of profiles of notable Slovene literary translators.

Sources:

Kocijančič Pokorn, N., Grošelj, R., Mikolič, T., Južnič, Pisanski Peterlin, A., eds. 2023. Zgodovina slovenskega literarnega prevoda I: Pregled zgodovinskega razvoja [History of Slovene Literary Translation I: Historical Overview]. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba and Znanstvena založba FF UL.

Kocijančič Pokorn, N., Grošelj, R., Mikolič, T., Južnič, Pisanski Peterlin, A., eds. 2023. Zgodovina slovenskega literarnega prevoda II: Slovenska literatura v dialogu s tujino [History of Slovene Literary Translation II: Slovenian Literature in Dialogue With the rest of the World]. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba and Znanstvena založba FF UL.

Authors: asst. prof. dr. Daša Stupica, dr. med., Stefan Collinet-Adler, MD, MPH, assoc. prof. dr. Rok Blagus, Anja Gomišček, res. assoc. dr. Tjaša Cerar Kišek, prof. dr. Eva Ružić-Sabljić, Maša Velušček

Doxycycline for 10 days is the primary treatment recommendation for erythema migrans (EM), which is the most prevalent form of Lyme borreliosis. To reduce potentially harmful antibiotic overuse by identifying shorter effective treatments, we aimed to assess whether oral doxycycline for 7 days was non-inferior to 14 days in adults with solitary EM.
Between July 2017 and October 2018, we enrolled 300 patients with solitary EM in a randomised, open-label non-inferior clinical study. Half the patients received oral doxycycline 100 mg every 12 hours for 7 days and the other half received the same dose at the same interval for 14 days. Five (3%) of 147 patients from the 7-day group versus 3 (2%) of 147 patients from the 14-day group had treatment failure following a two-month check-up manifesting as persistence of erythema (difference 1.4%; upper limit of one-sided 95% CI 5.2%, which is lower than the pre-determined boundary for non-inferiority (6%); p=0.64). No patients developed new clinical manifestations of Lyme borreliosis during the 12-month follow-up period or had positive repeat skin biopsies. Two (1%) of 150 patients in the 7-day and one (1%) of 150 patients in the 14-day group discontinued therapy due to adverse events.
Our results support the prescribing of oral doxycycline for 7 days for the treatment of adult patients with solitary EM, permitting less antibiotic exposure than current guidelines.

Source: Stupica D., Collinet-Adler S., Blagus R., Gomišček A., Cerar Kišek T., Ružić-Sabljić E., Velušček M. Treatment of erythema migrans with doxycycline for 7 days versus 14 days in Slovenia: a randomised open-label non-inferiority trial. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2023, Vol 23, iss. 3, pp. 371–379.

Authors: Janja Rihter, asst. prof. dr. Milena Košak Babuder, prof. dr. Milena Valenčič Zuljan

The authors studied collaboration between special education/rehabilitation teachers and visual arts teachers in working with pupils with specific learning difficulties as a result of dyspraxia and non-verbal learning disorders (NVLD), which have a strong impact on practical skills leading to a failure to achieve learning goals in the visual arts. We also studied the professional development of specialist workers of both profiles.
In order for pupils with dyspraxia and NVLD to succeed in their visual arts work, team collaboration between a visual arts teacher as specialist in the subject area and a special education/rehabilitation teacher as the specialist in the field of children with special educational needs (SEN) is important to enable pupils with SEN to develop their potentials within the framework of an inclusive paradigm, and therefore make successful progress in visual arts classes.
The study, which was carried out on a sample of 57 special education/rehabilitation teachers and 85 visual arts teachers, provides an insight into the practice of collaboration between the two professional profiles in all three primary school education periods in work with pupils with non-verbal learning disorders. The study established how the participating teachers assessed the necessity of collaboration and how they collaborated. We focused on the team teaching approach, which involves a partnership between two teachers who work together to provide access to the high-quality treatment of new learning material, and to the adaptations and specific strategies necessary for the learning process of pupils with SEN. We also wished to find out what the most common team teaching approach was and whether they saw benefits for pupils from such collaboration. We also looked at how important such collaboration was for their professional development and for maintaining resilience in their career. Experiences of collaboration in the visual arts could be a good springboard for promoting professional development and transferring team teaching approaches to other subjects.

Source: Rihter, J., Babuder, M. K., & Zuljan, M. V. (2023). Collaboration between special education teachers and visual arts education teachers in working with pupils with severe specific learning difficulties and its relationship to professional development [journal article]. European Journal of Special Needs Education, ahead-of-print (ahead-of-print), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2023.2185859

Authors: dr. Maša Mavri, dr. Sanja Glišić, dr. Milan Senćanski, prof. dr. Milka Vrecl Fazarinc, prof. dr. Mette M. Rosenkilde, asst. prof. dr. Katja Spiess in assoc. prof. dr. Valentina Kubale Dvojmoč

This research achievement is the result of a collaboration with Professor Mette M. Rosenkilde from the University of Copenhagen on the characterisation of the G-protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR) BILF1 encoded in porcine gammaherpesvirus (PLHV1-3) and the human Epstein–Barr virus. BILF1 receptors play an important role in the immunomodulatory and oncogenic properties of viruses. By employing a real-time internalisation assay, which enables measurements to be taken of the internalisation of receptors in living cells, we showed the retention of constitutive internalisation for all BILF1 receptors. We used this assay in combination with various tools for inhibiting endocytic protein expression, and showed that the internalisation of BILF1 receptors was mediated through clathrin vesicles and was also dependent, albeit to a lesser extent, on caveolin-1. Additional analyses of cells with β-arrestin genes removed and analyses of protein-protein interaction using a BRET2 assay and ISM analysis showed that internalisation occurred independently of β-arrestin. We also demonstrated that BILF1 receptors in the cytoplasm are either trafficked to late endosomes/lysosomes or return to the cell surface. A knowledge of the mechanisms of endocytosis and the recycling of oncogenic BILF1 receptors and identification of the participating proteins are important for understanding their biological functions and interactions, while a comparison with porcine homologues is the basis for the development of a porcine model for further studies of the BILF receptor relevant to infection with the EBV virus.

Verification of BILF1 as targets for medicines to treat human PTLD.

BILF1

EBV

Infected cells

EBV

PLHV1

BILF1

PLHV1

Infected cells

Characterisation of BILF1 orthologues

Verification of BILF1 as targets for medicines on the mini pig model

Characteristics of internalisation

Internalisation

Lysosome

Internalisation

Early endosome

Recycling

Source: Mavri, M., Glisic, S., Sencanski, M., Vrecl, M., Rosenkilde, MM., Spiess, K., Kubale, V. (2023). Patterns of human and porcine gammaherpesvirus-encoded BILF1 receptor endocytosis. Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters, 28(14):1-19.
https://doi.org/10.1186/s11658-023-00427-y