ASEF Fellowship Program

ASEF Research Fellows

Meet the 2017 Fellows

Gorazd Čibej

Gorazd is a lawyer working in insurance. After obtaining LL.M degree in European Law from University of Lund (Sweden) and bar exam, he primarily specialized in insurance law. As a strong believer in alternative dispute resolution, he later obtained a certificate that enabled him to work as a mediator and further deepened his knowledge by taking part in courses on mediation home and abroad (University of New Mexico, Central European University). That all resulted in building up a Free Legal Aid Clinic especially dedicated to offering free legal advice and conducting mediation services to the ones in need. He feels extremely pleased and honored to see that due to the passion and work Free Legal Aid Clinic has grown into one of the most recognizable organizations of its kind in the country.
Gorazd is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Ljubljana and working on his doctoral thesis on the impact of insurance liability on tort law. Next to his legal major he is also enrolled in the last year of Master in Business Studies, where his research focuses on exploration of ethics in corporate governance both from business and legal perspective. He believes that Harvard experience will have a tremendous impact on his research topic and is very delighted to be given this opportunity.
In his free time Gorazd likes travelling and exploring new cultures and is passionate about sports such as skiing, playing tennis and biking.

Teja Golobič

Teja Golobič is a first year PhD student at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law. On the basis of her previous academic achievements, her PhD tuition has been funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia. She graduated in law and obtained her master's degree in law, both cum laude, at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in many international summer schools, law students’ competitions and research projects. During her visit to Utrecht University, Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, she upgraded her knowledge of corporate law. Her current scientific article, which discusses the regulation of water supply, was published in the leading administrative law journal in Slovenia, Javna uprava. As her current PhD research focuses on administrative law, European Union law, competition law, public-private partnerships and concession contracts, she will visit Prof. John T Plecnik, an expert in taxation and public policy, to cooperate with him at the CSU. Teja is also very passionate about gender equality, equal opportunities, and, outside her academic pursuits, poetry and dance.

Žiga Gosar

Žiga Gosar is a Second cycle physics student at the Faculty of mathematics and physics, University of Ljubljana. His past work experience includes simulation of hot water heaters, evolutionary algorithms, cold atoms, optical fibers (in particular splicing of optical fibers), tutoring, and popularization of science.
During the summer he will be working with Prof. Andrej Košmrlj at the Princeton University on the topic of soft 2D periodic materials (acoustic metamaterials). These materials are able to reversibly switch between two different configurations with different properties, for example, different transmission of vibrations and sound.
In his free time he likes to travel (he is especially excited about Southeast Asia), write code, and play with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and other electronics. He is also training to become an alpinist.

Kaj Jež

Kaj Jež is a first year postgraduate student at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics, where he also received his graduate degree in International Business. He will be spending this summer with prof. Nives Dolšak at the University of Washington in Seattle where he will be comparing taxation and concession policies and regulation pertaining to water sources in Slovenia, Washington State and California, focusing primarily on the relative size and structure of taxes on the use of water sources, the duration of concessions and the monitoring process relating to said regulations. His research interests are the effects of taxation and regulation on the economic performance of businesses and long term country economic growth.
Kaj also serves as the director of Slovenia’s Institute Libertas, a free-market think tank previously engaged in the public discourse relating to water policies and other civil society issues. His particular spare time interests include film, theatre and reading.

Jaka Kukavica

Jaka Kukavica is a final year LL.B. student at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law. His research interests are broadly based in constitutional and human rights aspects of various public law issues. In the past, he has researched procedural obligations and (European) consensus as an interpretative method under the European Convention on Human Rights. He is going to work with Prof. Urška Velikonja at Georgetown University, researching procedural rights of victims in securities compliance enforcement procedures and other similar procedures from a constitutional and comparative perspective. In his spare time, Jaka is an avid (yet average) rock climber, a sad landlocked surfer, and is overcompensating for a lack of waves in his everyday life by training to run the 2018 Pyongyang Marathon.

Urška Lampret

Urška Lampret is a PhD student and a young researcher at University of Ljubjana, Faculty of Theology. Her PhD thesis is focused on ideatic diverge and conflict between Christianity and Communism in the period of revolution in Slovenia. In her research, she is focusing on the actions, activities, and policies the Church implemented and followed in order to defend human rights during the time of WWII and Communist revolution in Slovenia, including the question about the legitimacy of same. She is a member of Societas Ethica and research group at the Faculty of Theology. ASEF Fellowship offered her an opportunity to work with prof. Peter Verovšek at the University of Sheffield (UK), whose extensive knowledge of the topic of politics and collective memory would have a substantial relevance and impact for her research. Urška is very grateful to be given this opportunity and she believes that the ASEF Fellowship will allow her to broaden and deepen her research and will represent an important step on her career path.
But first of all, Urška is a mother of three (Nika – 5 years old, Jakob – 3 years old and Filip – 2 years old). Her free time is full of laughing, crying, playing, singing, dancing, screaming, tickling, ... Among academic and family activities Urška is passionate about ski jumping (she was among first female ski jumpers in Slovenia), dancing, climbing, country music and football (Liverpool FC's fan), thanks to her husband. To coordinate all those aspects of her life she needs to be very well organized and motivated, which also result in her scientific work, that usually ends very late at night.

Marija Lukič

Marija is a final, sixth year student of Dentistry on Faculty of Medicine in Ljubljana. As she gained deeper knowledge about different fields in dentistry, she became especially interested in periodontology and prosthodontics. Currently she's involved in research on public knowledge about Endodontics, but she is looking forward to take a chance to work in periodontics with Dr. Janina Golob Deeb on Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Throughout her studies she volunteered in a student project, focused on preventive dentistry. She was also active in a medical and dental students magazines. She attended different workshops and international congresses, which broaden her view on dentistry and improved her clinical work.
Her profession is the exact opposite to one of her favorite hobbies - baking. She jokes that she is doing it because somebody has to provide customers for dentists. She also loves to dance, enjoys different kinds of art and loves creative handwork, which is one of the reasons she chose dentistry in the first place. She is honoured and grateful to ASEF for this opportunity.

Tilen Marc

Tilen Marc is a PhD student at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana. He works in the area of graph theory and is also interested in topics such as machine learning and network analysis. I will have the opportunity to visit Prof. Jure Leskovec at Stanford University. In his free time Tilen loves to climb and do other sports, and spends as much time outdoors.

Aleš Omerzel

Aleš Omerzel is second year MSc student in Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Ljubljana. At the University of California, Berkeley, Aleš will cooperate with prof. Dawn Song on cutting edge technologies in artificial intelligence and particularly in deep learning.
As a high school student, Aleš won four golden awards at the National Math Olympiads and a bronze medal at the Benelux Mathematical Olympiad. In 2011, he enrolled in BSc interdisciplinary program Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Ljubljana, where he won Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence each year. In 2014, he continued to MSc in Computer Science and Mathematics and during the master degree, he gained many international experiences. He completed R&D Internship focused on corporate software systems at Bloomberg L.P. in London. He spent two semesters at ETH Zürich as an exchange student and student assistant. His research in Switzerland covered privacy, data sharing and performance optimization in Internet of Things which contributed to the publication Engineering Democratization in Internet of Things Data Analytics.
Beside activities related to studying and scientific research,  Aleš enjoys in various recreative sports in the evenings which helps him staying positive, empowered and fit. He also likes playing guitar, traveling and exploring new things. 

Ajda Rojc

Ajda Rojc is a student at the Faculty of Chemistry and chemical technology at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She finished her BSc program in Biochemistry and continued with a MSc program at the same department. In the last year of study, Ajda moved to Sweden where she attended a semester at Uppsala University. This year, Ajda will spend the summer in San Francisco where she will work in prof. Matija Peterlin's laboratory at UCSF. Ajda’s favorite topic in biochemistry is immunology which is also the main research topic of her Master’s thesis. She is excited about working at UCSF as this experience will expand her knowledge and expose her to new opportunities in biochemistry. She is grateful to ASEF for enabling her to pursue this opportunity. 
Ajda has been an avid climber for 16 years and after school she works at a local climbing gym where she teaches and coaches children of all ages. She is also a snowboarding instructor, she loves to cook, bake, hike, cycle and travel around, so California is a perfect place for Ajda to be!

Luka Starčevič

Luka Starčevič is a mechanical engineering student at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maribor. For the past 2 years, he has been working on the numerical calculations of cellular and auxetic materials under the supervision of prof. Zoran Ren, the Head of Laboratory for Advanced Computational Engineering and Experimenting. In these 2 years, Luka has gathered a lot of experience and knowledge in the field of numerical simulations of cellular and auxetic materials, which are materials with special mechanical features. In the past few months Luka has been collaborating with Nejc Novak, a junior scientist currently in Kumamoto, Japan, working on experiments to validate Luka’s research work in the field of numerical simulations. Due to Luka’s impactful research his mentor, prof. Ren, recommended him to visit prof. Košmrlj at the Princeton University, where Luka could gather great experience in the field of auxetic materials and so further work with Mr. Novak on this research related topics. Luka is very excited to learn from Prof. Košmrlj and deepen his theoretical knowledge of auxetic materials. Luka believes that with solid theoretical knowledge he will be able to deliver even more impactful research results in his field. Gathered experiences and knowledge that Luka is hoping to gain as an ASEF Fellow will be a great benefit for Luka’s future research, especially when he starts with his PhD program next year.

Robert Vidmar

Robert recently finished a PhD in Biochemistry at Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He decided to continue with his research on proteolytic enzymes and their function in health and disease at Jožef Štefan Institute. Robert is highly involved in several aspects of biochemistry like molecular and cellular biology combined with mass spectrometry-based proteomics. In his work he covers different aspects of protease research ranging from production of recombinant proteases, their characterization, and determination of their cleavage specificity to uncovering their physiological and pathological roles.
This summer Robert will be visiting prof. Andrej Šali at University of California, San Francisco where he would like to deepen his knowledge, expand his research network and of course get new and exciting data about molecular mechanisms of autophagy. More precisely, Robert would like to obtain experimental data on structural features of autophagy signaling complexes and combine them with bioinformatic modelling approaches available at prof. Šali’s lab.
Besides being a dedicated and highly motivated researcher Robert tries to spend every free minute with his family, goes for a bike ride, to the mountains or simply spends calm moments gardening.

Angelika Vižintin

Angelika Vižintin completed her BSc in Biotechnology at Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, and received the recognition of Biotechnical Faculty for undergraduate students with the best scholarly achievements. At the moment she is a MSc student of Biochemistry at the Faculty for Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana. Her research interests are broad and she has joined several academic projects during her studies.
Currently, she is focusing on toxin-antitoxin systems in cyanobacteria, microorganisms that obtain their energy through photosynthesis. Angelika is looking forward to join Dr. Mihaela Pavličev at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center through the ASEF Fellowship program. She will be involved in a research project with the aim to better understand the regulation of gene expression in human placental cells. In her free time, she is communicating scientific topics with the audience of Radio Študent (one of Europe's oldest and strongest independent and non-commercial radio stations), attending cultural events, tasting craft beers or simply relaxing in nature with friends.

Patrik Zajec

Patrik is an undergraduate student of Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Patrik also works at the AILAB (Artificial Intelligence laboratory at Jožef Stefan Institute) in the field of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning.
He is interested in research projects which also bring practical results. In the primary and secondary school Patrik was an active competitor in various computer programming competitions and won first places in all national programming competitions, so he can confidently say that he has a broad knowledge of algorithms and datastructures. Patrik also has experience with traditional natural language processing and machine learning techniques. Currently he is interested in deep learning advances and techniques applicable to this field. Patrik will be visiting prof. Jure Leskovec at Stanford University this summer.
Patrik is a pretty passionate skiing teacher in winter but in the summer time, windsurfing and swimming are his favorite.

Meet the 2016 Fellows

Aleksandar Dimitriev

Aleksandar Dimitriev is a MSc student in Computer Science at the University of Ljubljana, where he also obtained his BSc. He has always had a passion for math, and his research interests cover the broad area of applied machine learning, focusing on the application of Bayesian methods to real-world data, such as computer vision, bioinformatics, and social network analysis. He is very excited for the opportunity to work with Professor Jure Leskovec at Stanford University. In his free time, he likes to compose and play the violin.

Veronika Cencen

Veronika Cencen is a 22-year-old graduate student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ottawa, set to work with prof. Kosmrlj of Princeton University through the ASEF Fellowship program. She completed her BSc in Biotechnology at the University of Ljubljana in 2014. Her research interests are interdisciplinary; her current projects are focused on development and use of microfluidics in nanotechnology and biophysics, in the hope of developing novel methods for diagnostics and treatment of diseases for which current approaches are inadequate and poorly accessible.

As a member of a diplomatic family, she has lived in several countries and speaks six languages (English, Slovene, French, Chinese, Russian and Lithuanian). When she is not teaching or researching in the lab (or attending a conference or society meeting), she enjoys training and competing in rhythmic gymnastics as an international athlete recognized Olympic Committee of Slovenia, volunteering for the science outreach group Let's Talk Science and Aboriginal Mentorship Program (where her high level of commitment, enthusiasm, and innovative approach helped raise $22,500 to help the spread of the program to remote indigenous communities), writing for local and University magazines and newspapers, dancing, running, playing piano, and raising her pet poodle and hamster.

Vid Kocijan

Vid Kocijan is currently finishing 2nd year of undergraduate study of computer science and mathematics on University of Ljubljana. This summer, he will work with prof. Jure Leskovec at Stanford University. Vid's research interests are algorithms, data structures and discrete mathematics. He's trying to keep his list of interests wide, and will probably choose more specific field of interest in few years. In free time Vid likes climbing and mountain hiking. He also spends time voluntary teaching and has been preparing few members of Slovenia IOI team this year.

Neven Polajnar

Neven Polajnar is a second year PhD student in Political Science at the University of Ljubljana. He received his first BSc degree in Economics at the Faculty of Economics and his second BSc degree in Defense Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Ljubljana, where he also accomplished his master studies in Political Theories. At University of Harvard Neven will cooperate with prof. dr Peter J. Verovsek and he is strongly convinced that this experience will bring important aspects and elements to the final findings and conclusions of his PhD thesis, which is focused on recognition of authoritarian elements in modern representative democracies and their different dimensions.

Neven is also researching issues of different antagonisms inside political and social models, social and political structures, issue of politization and depolitization, political culture and collective identities, democratization issues and its limits, etc. Except political theories his research is focused on geo-strategic issues, political economy, defense and security issues, diplomacy and international relations, state and political institutions, etc.

In geo-strategical sense, Neven's special focus is on the region of the Balkans, South-Eastern Europe and Russian Federation, by analyzing and researching social and political transition, as well as the issue of democratic transformation of above mentioned ex-socialist regions.

Beside activities related to the scientific researches, Neven is a martial arts instructor and competitor, which demands a lot of focus, hard work, discipline and devotion, skills that are very helpful on all spheres of life, including the academic ones.

Jože Rožanec

Jože Rožanec is a software engineer pursuing his Msc degree in Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery at University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This summer, he will visit prof. Dawn Song at UC Berkeley. Jože received his Bsc degree in software engineering at Universidad Austral in 2011. He worked for several companies, starting as pre-sales intern at Microstrategy and then switching to software engineering roles. His last jobs were as a member of the R&D team at Navent, a leading South American company for real estate and job portals, where he developed recommender systems. Nowadays, he is a part of the core data team at Mercadolibre, the leading Latin American e-commerce company. His research interest are in time series analysis, deep learning and recommender systems. In his spare time, Jože enjoys reading, going to concerts as well as contributing to open source projects.

Jan Rozman

Jan Rozman is presently a third year undergraduate physics student at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the University of Ljubljana. This summer, he will be working with Professor Andrej Kosmrlj at Princeton University. Jan's studies have been focused mostly on theoretical and mathematical physics. His primary research interest is biophysics, in particular the mechanics of cellular movement during embryonic development. His previous research work was on the mechanics of buckled epithelium and was conducted at the Jozef Stefan Institute at the Department of Theoretical Physics. In his free time, Jan likes hiking and reading.

Matej Srebre

Matej comes from Sostanj, northern Slovenia. At first, he was planning to become a programmer and went to Computer Engineering high school in Velenje, then continued as a Computer Science student at University of Ljubljana; after one year of Computer Science he switched to Physics and finished his bachelor's degree last June. Now, Matej is a master's student in theoretical physics at University of Munich, Germany.

Matej's research interests revolve around particle physics and exploring the fundamental properties of nature, mainly by combining theoretical calculations with experimental data. He was an intern at CMS, one of the two leading experiments at CERN (Switzerland) last summer, and researched W bosons. This year, he is looking forward to a new challenge with Professor Uros Seljak at UC Berkeley and experience a top US university. In his free time, Matej plays the accordion - "frajtonarca".

Kaja Travnik

Kaja Travnik is going to work with professor Peter Verovsek at Harvard University. She studied Law as a undergraduate at European Faculty of Law. She continued her studies and became a Master of Law at European Faculty of Law. Kaja was always interested in European Law, function of the European Union and Human Rights. She upgraded her studies with Jean Monnet Certificate, which gave her depeer understanding of how European Union functions, its history and knowledge about the most important cases from European Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights. Kaja was a part of many summer schools and conferences abroad. She worked for European Commission in Brussels and for International Law Firm in Italy, where she strengthened her theoretical knowledge in practice. With her visit, she would like to intensify her current knowledge and bring contribution to the academic sphere. Kaja is very excited to work with professor Verovsek, who has so much knowledge and experiences in political theory and European Union.

One of Kaja's biggest life wishes was to be a part of Harvard University and she is so grateful to ASEF fellowship committee, which gave her this opportunity. For Kaja, that means to be a part of historic institution, which has an important contribution to the whole world.

Matej Vizovisek

Matej studied chemistry at University of Ljubljana, Faculty for Chemistry and Chemical Technology and finished his studies in 2009. Afterwards he did his PhD in prof. Boris Turk's lab at Jozef Stefan Institute and defended his PhD in 2014. Currently Matej is working as a research assistant, his main research field is proteomics which he often combines with classical biochemistry. During his PhD he has gained advanced technical knowledge in the field of high-resolution mass spectrometry-based proteomics and was leading the development of new proteomic approaches for chemical labelling of protease generated N-termini, that enabled the identification of protease substrates and corresponding cleavage sites. Matej was also working on development and validation of SMART fluorescent probes for cysteine proteases that they were developing in the LIVIMODE (FP7) project. This summer Matej will have the great opportunity to expand his knowledge and work with prof. Sali at UCSF, where he will concentrate especially on bioinformatic aproaches to explore and process large proteomic datasets to provide more integrative insights into different molecular players in health and disease.

Meet the 2015 Fellows

Aljaž Gaber

Aljaž Gaber is a PhD student of biochemistry at University of Ljubljana where he also works as an assistant, supervising young to-be biochemists during their lab courses. During his undergraduate study at the same university, Aljaž was also an active student representative. He spent his summer of 2015 with prof. Andrej Sali at UCSF, applying their state of the art computational structural biology algorithms to tackle self-assembly of a tumor marker Aljaž is researching as a part of his PhD. The idea behind this is to better understand how our organisms work on a molecular scale, which would enable us to better understand diseases and develop novel treatment strategies.

As a graduate student, Aljaž's life at this point mostly revolves around becoming a perspective young scientist, which means there is not too much time for pursuing other interests. Still, he will never say no to an invitation for a drink to catch up or to have an interesting discussion.

Andraz Hribernik

Andraz graduated from Computer Science and then joined London based start up Cytora as one of the first 5 engineering hires. He spent summer 2015 visiting prof. Jure Leskovec at Stanford University. The summer research project was about finding duplicates and anomalies in a huge collection of news articles. In his free time he likes to do various of different sports (skiing, climbing, kite surfing, etc), explore street food markets and visit different countries.

Filip Kozarski

Filip Kozarski finished his BSc of math and physics in Ljubljana and is currently pursuring a MSc degree in Theoretical and mathematical physics in Munich. He visited Prof Uros Seljak at the department of Cosmology, Berkeley, in the late summer of 2015. Filip's hobbies and things not being paid for include playing soccer in the team of Slovenians in Munich, and thinking or joking about life, physics and all other everyday stuff in between. All with the help of Kindle and YouTube. Filips is a human of habits. On the picture (right) together with Volt (left), the best dog ever.

Peter Us

Peter Us finished his BSc of Computer and Information Science at University of Ljubljana and is currently pursuing a MSc degree in Computer and Information Science at the same university. In the summer of 2015, Peter visited the laboratory of prof. Dawn Song, at University of Berkeley. There, Peter was working on projects from the field of cutting edge web technologies. In the summer of 2016, Peter started working as an data science intern at Evolven - an IT Operations analytics company.

In his free time, Peter likes to learn more about various fields of computer science such as machine learning, functional programing and new web development technologies. When he is not preoccupied with the things already mentioned, he could be playing basketball, watching series or exploring the world around him.

Meet the 2014 Fellows

Matej Cepin

Matej Cepin (the Santa Clara awardee) has already completed his project in May 2014. This is what he wrote. "The aim of my study visit was to deepen my knowledge about Social Entrepreneurship and Business Incubators and to be able to transfer some of successful practices back to Slovenia in the future. The core activity was the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) Conference. (Matej was later offered a mentorship at the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara and become a research fellow there.) Other events included 1-to-1 meetings, participation in smaller events and visiting institutions, including a fundraising dinner at SCU, presentation of innovations in Frugal Lab (SCU) and meeting the Slovenian Bay Area Community. The journey was a meaningful learning experience in the fields of social entrepreneurship, social impact measurement, fundraising nonprofits and social enterprises, marketing in social entrepreneurship, social media, managing coworking spaces and incubators of social enterprises. I saw several business models in action, expanded my social network and got an empowering experience of mentorship from Fr. Peter Rožič SJ."

Read about Matej's impressions from the Sillicon Valley part I, part II (only available in Slovene language).

Whatch Matej's story about the visit.

Matej's visit to Dr. Božo Cerar, Ambassador of Slovenia to the US

Niko Colnerič

Niko Colnerič is coming from Mestinje, in the East of Slovenia. From an early age he liked mathematics and physics and after finishing high school in Celje, he obtained his BSc in Computer Science in Ljubljana. Currently, Niko is a first year PhD student at Faculty of Computer and Information Science where his main focus is on data mining challenges and high-dimensional data analysis. In his free time he loves cycling and paragliding.

Read Niko's reflections of his visit.

Whatch Niko's and Marinka's stories about the visit.

Marinka Žitnik

Marinka Žitnik is a PhD student in computer science at University of Ljubljana. She received her BSc in computer science and mathematics from University of Ljubljana in 2012. Her research interests are at the intersection of artificial intelligence and computational biology. She focuses on ways of fusing many heterogeneous data sources. Her research is driven by current challenges in bioinformatics, systems and molecular biology. Through integrative computational analysis she aims to identify the most promising candidate genes that biologists can investigate further experimentally. In her free time, Marinka also edits XRDS Crossroads, the ACM magazine for students, and is active in the Google Anita Borg community.

Read Marinka's reflections of her visit.

Whatch Marinka's and Niko's stories about the visit.