The 2013 Miroslav Zei Award for Exceptional Achievements in the Field of the Activities of the National Institute of Biology

The 2013 Miroslav Zei Award for Exceptional Achievements in the Field of the Activities of the National Institute of Biology

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The 2013 Miroslav Zei Award for Exceptional Achievements in the Field of the Activities of the National Institute of Biology was presented to Associate Professor Dr. Maja Ravnikar.

The Associate Professor Dr. Maja Ravnikar is a world known expert in the areas of microbiology and biotechnology and more specifically in research and discovery of biology of plant disease agents.  As an exemplary very hard worker, an innovative researcher, and a motivational leader to her co-workers and young researchers she is achieving top quality results in basic as well as applied research by connecting and collaborating with the partners from industry and by providing services to the state agencies. Together with her co-workers she has developed a number of new molecular methods for extraction, detection and quantitative determination of viruses, viroids and bacteria which were published in highly cited original research and review papers published in prestigious scientific journals with high impact factors and in books published by foreign publishing companies. Together with her co-workers she has discovered more than 20 new plant disease agents, mainly in Slovenia but also in Europe. Her pioneering work represents building a technology for tracing the effectiveness of concentration and purification of viruses using monolithic chromatographic supports together with the biotechnology company BIA Separations.

This year the innovative coupling of virus concentration with the new generation of nucleic acid sequencing lead to the discovery of a new Orthoreovirus that is a causal agent of gastrointestinal problems in humans. Many of developed methods for identification and quantitative evaluation of microorganisms are being used by the researchers in their research work as well as for their work for evaluating the phytosanitary status of plants within the reference laboratory at the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection. Some of the methods are being used also in other European laboratories.

Dr. Ravnikar is a head of the Department of Biotechnology and Systems Biology and also directs its research program extremely successfully through a number of years. At NIB she is one of the main protagonists of encouraging enterprise which resulted in a now four years old spin off company Biosistemika L.C.C.

Dr. Ravnikar is very active in the European Organisation for Plant Protection, she is a member of the United States consortium for research of viruses in the environment, a president of the international working group for virus research, and a cofounder of the European Association of Phytobacteriology.



Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maja Ravnikar (Photo: Žiga Ivanc)