Between 11 February (International Day of Women and Girls in Science) and 8 March (International Women's Day), we present UP researchers who have achieved important milestones in their research work and their thoughts on the position of women in science in the past year.
Dr. Andreja Kutnar is engaged in wood processing, especially sustainable use of natural resources. She is the director of the InnoRenew Institute, which completed the construction of the largest wooden building in Slovenia in 2021, and has acquired an important basic project with Austrian partners (Development of wood composites with higher protection against impact sound to improve the quality of life), funded by ARRS.
What was your scientific path like?
After completing my university studies in woodworking at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, I decided to do a doctoral study in woodworking. During my studies, I went to the United States, to Oregon State University, where I did most of the experimental work for my doctoral dissertation. I completed my doctoral studies in 2008 and then went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship at Oregon State University. All the time I was dealing with the modification of wood, namely its thickening. After returning to Slovenia, I also started evaluating environmental impacts. I still research both today.
Have you been hindered in this by the fact that you are a woman who is creating her own path in the traditionally male field of woodworking?
My experience is that we are all equal in science and successful on the basis of our quality work.
Among other things, you study the technology and sustainable development of the wood industry and the impact of new materials on the environment. To what extent do the research we conduct at our and other universities influence the change of mindset among people and the turn to use natural and renewable resources for production and construction?
Changing the mindset of people is not easy to achieve and especially not quickly. The mission of scientists is to share new discoveries with society. At our university, we strive to communicate about our work in various ways and, above all, to pass on knowledge to students who are our future!
You have been asked a lot about your research achievements and written about them. Are you personally happy with what you have achieved and what is your next scientific challenge?
In science, every discovery leads to new research issues. We can say that we never get to the conclusion. I am particularly fascinated by the research questions we ask ourselves based on the challenges we face in the economy, and then we try to come up with new insights through basic research work.
dr. Vesna Grahovac, Sector for research, development, and artistic activity