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Prof. Marija Bešter Rogač, PhD, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana, was awarded the title of Congress ambassador of Slovenia 2019 for organizing the '32nd Conference of European Colloid and Interface Society, ECIS 2018'. She is part of the Ljubljana Ambassador Club.

Ambasadorji Bester EN

How would you describe the process of organizing professional / scientific meetings in Ljubljana?

The first and perhaps the most difficult step is to present Ljubljana to the decision-making bodies, win a bid and bring a conference to our city. The competition in the organization of prestigious congresses or meetings is exceptionally fierce, and the committees usually prefer to opt for the already established destinations, which Ljubljana is gradually becoming. It is then necessary to set both the professional and technical framework of the meeting: to invite established lecturers who can attract as many participants as possible, and to communicate well and look for the most appropriate solutions with the congress center and other potential venues. The task division between the members of the organizing committee is also truly important - mutual trust and respect must always prevail.

What were the biggest joys and challenges for you, and what is the most important lesson you have learnt & would pass on to your younger colleagues?

It was my greatest pleasure that the event (32nd Conference of European Colloid and Interface Society, ECIS 2018) was organized jointly by the University of Ljubljana, the National Institute of Chemistry, the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) and Slovenian Chemical Society. At the opening ceremony, the participants were greeted by the highest representatives of all these institutions, and the younger colleagues got to see a good example of mutual cooperation, which is not necessarily common. We also managed to attract several students to work on the event, who left a remarkable impression with their unique style, commitment and youthful enthusiasm. They kept saying they would remember the event for the rest of their lives. That’d be great!

What do you see as the biggest advantages of Ljubljana as a congress destination, and which are its greatest potential yet to be developed?

The biggest advantage of Ljubljana is its compactness - most meeting facilities are close to the hotels and student dormitories. Nearby there's the Old Town with the romantic Ljubljanica river, and the little picturesque corners literally invite everyone to carry on with the "meeting debates" in a more relaxed atmosphere. We would like the accessibility and flight connections to further improve in the future.

What does being a Slovenian congress ambassador mean to you personally and professionally?

The title is a great honor and joy for me. I proudly added it to my professional biography.

Is there any event / meeting that you would especially like to bring to Ljubljana in the future?

Right now it is very inconvenient to plan any events, especially the bigger ones. However, I hope this Covid-19 situation will calm down soon. In the coming years I’d really like to organize at least one meeting within the COST campaign CA 18202 project.

What is your definition of a perfect day?

I'm a little hesitant about the term "perfect." I am a scientist and we know there are no "perfect" or "ideal" systems in nature, yet under certain conditions we are able to approach them. When at the end of the day I'm able to say that I learnt something new, met inspiring people, finished all my daily tasks without being nervous too much, managed to find some extra "me-time" without feeling guilty, and did not experience any humiliation or conflict, then this for me would qualify as a perfect day.

A special experience during the Corona-virus time you could share?

This was a very particular time that limited our existences to small spaces, refuges, but - in spite of closed borders - our windows into the world remained open. We have probably all figured out what we value the most in life and what we could easily let go of.