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Meet our world-class supervisory team!

Dr. Luana Bontempo (FEM)

Supervisor of: ESR 1
Luana Bontempo

Luana Bontempo has been working since 2001 as a researcher at Fondazione Edmund Mach where she is currently head of the Traceability Unit. She obtained a degree on Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology and a post-graduated specialization school degree in Chemical Methodologies for Survey and Analysis at University of Padua in 2001 and in 2004. In 2011 she received her PhD degree in Food Sciences from the University of Udine. Her research activities relate to analytical and food chemistry, in particular to the applications of stable isotope ratios, nuclear magnetic resonance and elemental composition to the characterization of food geographical origin and to the control/protection of food commodities. More recently, her research interests have expanded to the application of these markers in other areas, in particular animal ecology. She is author or co-author of 60 scientific papers with IF. Since 2017 she was awarded with the Italian National Scientific Qualification as Associate Professor for the discipline Analytical Chemistry and since 2019 for Pharmaceutical, Toxicological and Nutraceutical Chemistry and Technologies.


Dr. Elena Franciosi (FEM)

Supervisor of: ESR 2
Elena Franciosi

Graduated in Agro-industrial Biotechnology in Verona (Italy) in 2001, she carried out and completed the PhD program in Food Science and Biotechnology at the University of Bologna (Italy) in 2010. Actually she works at the Edmund Mach Foundation as senior researcher at the Food Quality and Nutrition department. She collaborated in several research projects focused on microbial biodiversity in cow milk and raw milk cheeses, biodiversity which is currently cataloged in a bio-bank including 3,000 bacterial units. The actual fields of interest are the characterization and selection of autochthonous starters for the dairy productions; the characterization of the microbial health properties and the study of the milk microbial biodiversity of milk in relation to animal welfare. She collaborated in several research project focused on the metagenomic characterization of bacteria and yeasts present in many foods different from dairy (fermented sausages, durum wheat kernels, sourdough breads, wine musts) and ecological niches (vineyard and high mountain herbs).


Prof. dr. Ron Heeren (UM-M4I)

Supervisor of: ESR 3 and ESR 14
Ron Heeren

Prof. Dr. Ron M.A. Heeren obtained a PhD degree in technical physics in 1992 at the University of Amsterdam on plasma-surface interactions. He was the research group leader at FOM-AMOLF for macromolecular ion physics and biomolecular imaging mass spectrometry in the period 1995-2015. In 2001 he was appointed professor at the chemistry faculty of Utrecht University lecturing on the physical aspects of biomolecular mass spectrometry. In 2014 he was appointed as distinguished professor and Limburg Chair at the University of Maastricht. He is scientific director of M4I, the Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging institute on the Brightlands Maastricht Health campus. There, he heads the division of imaging MS. Currently he serves as the chair of the NWO research community “advanced methods, instrumentation and data analysis” for the life sciences. He was awarded the prestigious 2019 Physics Valorization prize by the Dutch organization for scientific Research, NWO and the 2020 Thomson medal of the international mass spectrometry foundation. In 2021 he was elected as a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, KNAW. His academic research interests are mass spectrometry based personalized medicine, translational molecular imaging and proteomics research, high-throughput bioinformatics and the development and validation of new mass spectrometry based molecular imaging techniques for the life sciences. He has successfully supervised 48 PhD students and 31 post-doctoral researchers and is actively involved in the development of molecular imaging education.


Berta Cillero Pastor (UM-M4I)

Co-supervisor of: ESR 3 and ESR 14
B Cillero Pastor

Berta Cillero Pastor was born in Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 1980. She studied Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She obtained her PhD in 2009 at the Rheumatology Division at the INIBIC Insitute of La Coruña on the effect of cytokines in chondrocyte mitochondrial proteins. She moved then to Amsterdam with her own fellowship to work at Ron Heeren´s lab at AMOLF to apply Imaging Mass Spectrometry in the field of rheumatic pathologies.Currently she is the CORE lab leader of the Division of Imaging Mass Spectrometry at M4I. She supervises several PhD students that try to understand different aspects of the OA pathology. Among other projects, she is involved in the TargetCare Project (ITN-H2020) to evaluate drug delivery systems for joint repair.


Dr. Matjaž Humar (JSI) (FEM)

Supervisor of: ESR 4
Matjaz Humar

Humar obtained his PhD at Jožef Stefan Institute in 2012. From 2013 till 2016 he was a research fellow at Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Currently he is the head of bio-integrated photonics group at Jožef Stefan Institute and assistant professor at Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana. He is a two times MSCA fellow and currently holds the prestigious ERC Starting Grant and Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) grant. Humar is the co-inventor of the first 3D laser as well as the first laser embedded in a live human cell.


Prof. dr. María Dolores Hernando (INIA, CSIC)

Supervisor of: ESR 5 and ESR 7

PhD in Chemistry (2000) by the University of Almería. Senior Researcher (permanent staff, 2011-2020) at the National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA), Spain. Full Research Professor (permanent staff, 2021) at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Since 1997, she has participated in 6 European projects of the FP5-FP7, H2020, and in 13 oriented research projects and integrated actions of the National Plan R + D + I; she has led 3 coordinated projects of the State Plan. Coordinator at the National Reference Center for the implementation of the European REACH Regulation and the Global Harmonized System of Classification (GHS) (2007-2009). Coordinator at the National Reference Center on Persistent Organic Pollutants, for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention of the United Nations (2007-2011). She currently coordinates the project "Improvement of production conditions in beekeeping: development of wax decontamination processes, impact of veterinary treatments in conventional and organic management". Professor Hernando has published more than 90 papers in international scientific journals and has a Hirsch-Index of 39. She has supervised 5 PhDs and 4 MSc students. She currently supervises 4 PhDs


Prof. dr. Nives Ogrinc (JSI)

Supervisor of: ESR 6
Co-supervisor of: ESR1, ESR10, and ESR15
Nives Ogrinc

Prof. dr. Nives Ogrinc received her PhD degree from the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology University of Ljubljana in 1997. Prof. Ogrinc obtained a NATO-postdoctoral fellowship from 2000-2002 in the Department of Chemistry at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. This fellowship offered her possibilities to be involved in a larger research project on mercury (Hg) cycling in Canada (METAALICUS) using stable isotopes of Hg. Now, she works in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Jožef Stefan Institute as the Head of the Organic Biogeochemistry group. She is also a professor at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School and a visiting professor in Earth Science at University of Parma, Italy. Her research work is characterized by a distinctly interdisciplinary approach and the use of stable isotopes of light elements (H, C, N, O and S) as well as heavier elements in various fields of research including food and nutrition. In 2019 she was awarded the “Zois award for outstanding achievements in the use of stable isotopes in interdisciplinary research”. Currently her bibliography includes 168 original papers that have been cited more than 3700 times with an h-index of 34. The excellence of her work is also evident by involvement in several national and international projects and invited lectures at international conferences and symposia. In 2016, she became president of the International Association of Sediment Water Interface. She has successfully supervised 11 PhDs, 4 MSc students and 3 postdocs.


Prof. dr. Dimitra Lambropoulou (AUTH)

Supervisor of: ESR 8
Co-supervisor of: ESR12
Dimitra Lambropoulou

Prof. dr. Dimitra Lambropoulou is an Assoc. Professor on Environmental Chemistry in the Environmental Pollution Control Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH). She currently supervises 6 PhD and 8 Master students (2 PhD thesis, 42 Master Thesis completed). She has demonstrated substantial expertise in development and application of novel sample preparation techniques coupled to advanced mass spectrometry approaches in the field of environmental & food chemistry, design and application of new materials in analytical and separation sciences, occurrence, transport, fate and effects of emerging contaminants (PPCPs, EDCs, PFOS, PFOA and other PFCs etc) in the environment and health, environmental and food safety. Her current research interests include developing novel mass spectrometry (MS)-based tools including elucidation/identification strategies (target, suspect, non-target screening) and “Omics” approaches by using high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), for functional discovery of ECs and their metabolites/Transformation Products in environmental and food samples. She has been participating in more than 50 national and European research projects. She was PI-investigator for a number of research projects (15) related to analysis, structure elucidation, monitoring, treatment, fate and toxicity of organic micropollutants and food contaminants. She has published more than 140 scientific research papers in high-impact international peer-reviewed scientific journals, and 14 chapters in scientific books that have received more than 6000 citations in ISI; and has an h-index=43 | Google scholar: 8075, h index: 48, i10-index:97). She is an Associate Editor for the journal Science of the Total Environment (IF2019: 6.551).


Prof. dr. Adrian Covaci (UAntwerpen)

Supervisor of: ESR 9
Adrian Covaci

Prof. Dr. Adrian COVACI (49 y) is a Professor of Analytical and Environmental Toxicology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. He is the current director of the Toxicological Center in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. After he has acquired a PhD in Chemistry in 2002, he became a full professor in 2012. Current fields of interest are the “Application of advanced mass spectrometric techniques to the human exposome”, “Human biomonitoring of emerging contaminants”, and “Metabolomics and human metabolism of xenobiotics in in vitro and in vivo systems”. He has co-authored more than 600 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has an H-index of 89. His papers have been cited more than 23,000 times which has earned him the title of Highly Cited Researcher (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020). Since 2011, he is the Belgian representative in the Division of European Chemical Societies' Division of Chemistry and the Environment (EuCheMS). He is also co-Editor-in-Chief for Environment International (IF2019: 7.60) and an Associate Editor for Science of the Total Environment (IF2019: 5.60).


Prof. dr. Ester Heath (JSI)

Supervisor of: ESR 10
Co-supervisor of: ESR7

Prof. Heath has been employed at Jožef Stefan Institute since 1991. She earned her M.Sc. (1994) and Ph.D. (1998) in Chemistry – Environmental Organic Analysis from the University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. She spent 15 months at the University of Plymouth, Plymouth in the UK and two years at McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada. Currently, Prof Heath is Head of the Laboratory for Organic Analytical Chemistry within the Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute and a full professor at the International Postgraduate School Jožef Stefan in Ljubljana, Slovenia.Prof Heath has been working in the field of organic analytical chemistry for over 25 years and has a broad experience in experimental work (sample preparation, quantitative and qualitative determination) and analyzing trace organic compounds and their metabolites/transformation products using different analytical techniques (gas/liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry). Lately, she has been involved in studying the cycling of organic contaminant residues in matrices related to the environment, food and health. Prof Heath is a Member of the European Chemical Societies' Division of Chemistry and the Environment and an ESPR Editor.


Prof. dr. Aleksandra Lobnik (IOS)

Supervisor of: ESR 11
Aleksandra Lobnik

Prof. Lobnik is since 2009 a Full professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maribor, where she is leading the Centre of Sensor Technology. In 2006 she co-founded a spin-off company IOS Ltd. She is currently interested in applicability of scientific research in the field of sensors, nanomaterials, water treatment & recycling processes. In the meantime, she is involved as a Technical Manager in the Resyntex project, Horizont 2020, dealing with depolymerization of textile wastes to a new secondary raw materials. She is also active in promotion of the science as a President of the Slovenian Academic Association of Natural Sciences and Engineering, and as a Board Member of Director’s of International Sol Gel Society. She promoted science also through the TEDx lecturing in CERN ( other-emotions). She received several international as well national awards (CITEX Award, France, The UM prize forthebestresearcher, Slovenian Army Awards for Research & Development, Saubermacher Award, Goldmedal for the best innovation). She is member of various scientific organizations, delegations, committees. She is author/co-author of 30 patents/patent applications, of more than 120 scientific and conference papers, she gave more than 30 invited lectures, she is author and co-author of 5 scientific monographs and 7 scientific chapters. She was involved in 56 mentorships of BA, MA and doctoral students. As a project manager, she participated in more than 40 national and international research projects.


Prof. dr. Dimitrios Bikiaris (AUTH)

Supervisor of: ESR 12
Co-supervisor of: ESR 8 and ESR 13

He is a Professor at the Chemistry Department of AUTH since 2015. His research interests include the synthesis and characterization of polyesters, the development of polymers and copolymers using biobased monomers, the preparation and study of composite and nanocomposite polymeric materials with various polymeric matrices included tissue engineering and pharmaceutical technology, use of polymers to remove contaminants (heavy metals, drugs, pigments, etc.) from urban and industrial sites, etc. His scientific work has been published in more than 430 scientific papers in international scientific journals, with over 17500 citations, and h-index 70 (scopus). He participated in 60 research projects, in 30 of which he was scientifically responsible. He has also written 4 chapters in international scientific books and he holds 15 international patents and 2 Greek. He has participated in more than 150 international and 50 national conferences, having 139 oral presentations as a simple and invited speaker, and 290 poster presentations. He has been a reviewer in more than 150 international journals (Journal of Applied Polymer Science in 2013) and member of editorial committees in six scientific journals. He also participated as an evaluator in Greek and European research projects (FP7 and Horizon 2020) and as a reviewer in research programs of several European countries (UK, Cyprus, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, etc.


Prof. dr. Lidija Fras Zemljič (UM)

Supervisor of: ESR 13
Co-supervisor of: ESR 12
Lidija Fras Zemljič

Prof. dr. Lidija Fras Zemljič, received her PhD from the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Maribor, and is currently a full professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University Maribor, reseach area: Materials. She has demonstrated high management and research skills during numerous successfully completed and ongoing projects (E! 5852, Nanofuntampons, E!3602 HIGHTAMPONS, E!4952 Biopackaging, L2-9323-0795, L3-0361-0795, i.e. more than 40 national and European research projects in total, among others) and has extensive knowledge and experience in polymer and colloid chemistry with emphasis on antimicrobial coatings for packaging materials, medical devices and medical textiles. Her research area is strongly focused on understanding surface properties and interaction phenomena and studying the influence of specific surface properties using advanced methods such as XPS, ToF- SIMS, contact angle measurements, zeta potential, QCM (interfacial phenomena), titration tools on the final -desired material properties. In 2017 she received the “best scientific” award from University Maribor and in 2018 she received the “best & excellent” research award from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University Maribor. Her personal bibliography includes more than 100 articles as original scientific articles, most of them were published in journals with high impact factor and outstanding or high-quality achievements. She has successfully supervised 4 PhD students and co-supervised 3, 10 MSc students and 3 postdocs.


Dr. Klementina Pušnik Črešnar

Co-supervisor of: ESR 13
Klementina Pušnik Črešnar

Klementina Pušnik Črešnar completed her PhD at the Jožef Stefan Institute (Jozef Stefan International Postgraduate School) in October 2016 on the synthesis of nanomaterials and surface interaction phenomena.

Since 2016, she has been the leader of the national research project Development of Biodegradable and Functional Plastics for Value Added Plastics, which focuses on the study of thermoplastic nanomaterials composites at the Institute of Engineering Materials and Design at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maribor. In 2020, she participated in research abroad at the Department of Chemistry of AUTH (led by Prof. Dr. Dimitrios Bikiaris) based on the development of thermoplastic polyester nanocomposites, focusing on the synthesis, crystallisation, interfacial phenomena, segment dynamics, degradation mechanism and surface properties of thermoplastic nanocomposites. She is currently supervising 4 masters and 1 PhD students. She has also actively participated in a research and development project with industrial partner Plastika Skaza d.o.o. dealing with thermoplastic composites.


Dr. Vicky Edkins (WRG Europe Ltd)

Supervisor of: ESR 15
Vicky Edkins

Vicky completed her PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Bristol, UK in 2007. Following a period working as a serious and organised crime analyst, she went on to take a leading role in a multi-partner, multi-disciplinary European research project. Vicky was project team leader for the behavioural psychology components of the project as well as aspects of multi-agency cooperation and coordination, stakeholder and public engagement, and supervision. Vicky has more recently worked extensively as a specialist consultant with a wide range of organisations and institutions on both a one-to-one and group basis. This has involved the provision of training on interview and presentation skills and the implementation of behavioural analysis and psychometric assessments during recruitment and development events. In her current role as Associate Director of WRG Europe, Vicky works across all academic disciplines helping researchers to obtain research funding. This involves the provision of intensive grant writing support and the delivery of workshops.