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The 2018 Pregl Awards for outstanding doctoral dissertations go to Andraž Krajnc, PhD, and Andrej Emanuel Cotman, PhD

Two Pregl Awards for outstanding doctoral dissertations were awarded on Monday, 10 December 2018, at the National Institute of Chemistry. At the end of November, the 2018 Pregl Awards Committee, composed of Mateja Manček Keber, PhD, Ema Žagar, PhD, Petar Djinović, PhD, Assoc. Prof. Franci Merzel, PhD, and Prof. Nataša Novak Tušar, PhD, President of the Committee, considered all 14 applications submitted and selected 10 of them for presentation. This year, the members of the Committee unanimously decided to present two Pregl Awards.

The first Award went to Andraž Krajnc, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Inorganic Chemistry and Technology at the National Institute of Chemistry, who received his doctorate degree from the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School.

The second Pregl Award was given to Andrej Emanuel Cotman, PhD, a researcher in the Chair of Organic Chemistry at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology of the University of Ljubljana, where he also obtained his PhD.

EXPLANATIONS OF PREGL AWARDS GIVEN

The first Pregl Award was given to Andraž Krajnc, PhD, for his outstanding doctoral dissertation titled "The Study of Nanoporous Materials for the Storage of Heat Using Solid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance", which he defended in May 2017 at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School.
Dr. Krajnc conducted his research in the field of development of porous materials, such as aluminophosphates and metal-organic porous materials for the storage and extraction of heat/energy. He demonstrated a deep understanding of the structural properties of materials and developed a new approach to the characterisation of metal-organic materials using the solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance. The prevailing selection criteria were the number of publications from the doctoral dissertation in high impact journals, based on which the winner of the award was the first author (Angewandte, 2015, IF=11.7 and Advanced Energy Materials, 2017, IF=21.8), taking part in publications in high impact journals only a year after the doctorate as a result of cooperation with foreign teams due to the visibility of the doctoral dissertation (Nature Communication, 2018, IF=12.4; Science Advances, 2018, IF=11.5; Chemistry of Materials, 2018, IF=9.9), and an excellent presentation of own work by the author.

Dr. Andrej Emanuel Cotman is the second recipient of the Pregl Award for his outstanding doctoral dissertation titled "Asymmetric Reductions of Ketones Catalysed by Metal Complexes", which he defended in April 2018 at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology of the University of Ljubljana.
Dr. Cotman conducted his research in the field of homogeneous catalysis for the preparation of enantiomerically pure secondary alcohols using several consecutive stereogenic carbon atoms. Such advanced molecules serve as building blocks for more complex organic molecules which are of particular interest for the pharmaceutical industry. He demonstrated a deep understanding of organic synthesis. The prevailing selection criteria were the number of publications from the doctoral dissertation in high impact journals, based on which the winner of the award was the first author (Angewandte, 2016, IF=11.9 and Organic letters, 2018, IF=6.5), and an excellent presentation of own work by the author. The synthesis of 2,3-disubstituted-1-indanols was highlighted as an important achievement in the field of asymmetric synthesis in the Synfacts journal, which on a monthly basis presents selected results of synthetic organic chemistry research and gives an assessment and summary enhanced by comments from experts in the field. The synthesis of γ-hydroxy-α-CF3-carbinols was even selected for the ‘Synfacts of the Month’ by the editorial board, and the summary was also published in ChemInform. As a prominent achievement, the new method for the preparation of chiral fluorinated alcohols was highlighted by the Slovenian Research Agency at the Excellent in Science 2017 event. The research work described in the doctoral dissertation was awarded the Krka Grand Prize for 2018.

At the same time, we awarded ten young researchers for their postgraduate training at the Institute. The Awards were presented to: Ana Bjelić, Jasna Brčić, Emanuel Cotman, Marta Debeljak, Sara Drvarič Talian, Eva Krajnc, Tea Lenarčič, Petra Muri, Aleksandar Popadić and Tanja Zidarič.

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