Two of our scientists received the prestigious State Award for Science in 2022.
At the session held on November 13, 2023, the Committee for the Award of State Prizes for Science adopted the Decision on the award of State Prizes for Science for the year 2022.
The Republic of Croatia awards state science prizes for exceptionally important achievements in science and research, for the expansion of scientific knowledge and for scientific achievements in the application of the results of science and research made by scientists, researchers and novice scientists. The Act on State Science Awards in Croatia provides for four types of state science awards: Lifetime Achievement Award, Annual Science Award, Annual Award for Popularization and Promotion of Science and Annual Award for Young Scientists.
The Annual Prize for Popularization and Promotion of Science is awarded for a contribution to the dissemination of knowledge about science, which manifests itself in the popular presentation of valuable professional and scientific publications and other forms of presentation. The winner of this year’s award, for natural sciences, is our employee, research associate of the Laboratory of fisheries science, Dr. Daria Ezgeta Balić.
The award citation states that she has carried out an impressive and diverse series of activities to promote topics related to marine sciences and the affirmation of so-called “ocean literacy” (understanding the mutual influence of the sea and humans). Among other things, she organized and implemented numerous workshops for children, designed the art exhibition “Land without Sea” and published the educational picture book “Sea Story from Rusulica Kindergarten”. Her project, aimed at students in elementary school in smaller towns and rural areas along the Adriatic coast and inland, was included by UNESCO in its list of activities dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the sea. In 2022, dr. Ezgeta Balić was also the initiator and leader of activities to popularize the work of her institute as part of the Science Festival and the European Researchers’ Night.
“I really enjoy working with children and young people, and the biggest reward for me is their confirmation when they say how much fun they had, or when the little ones in kindergarten start hugging you and asking when you will come back. Although I do not do any of this because of some other awards, this news has cheered me up and given me the wind at my back to continue with these activities. Although I received the award, I am not alone in this. I would like to thank all the teachers who invited me to the schools, my colleagues who held some workshops with me, and all my colleagues who always respond to these kinds of activities,” said Dr.Ezgeta Balić.
The annual Novice Scientist Award is given to young scientists for special achievements in scientific work, for the publication of a notable article in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals or their peers, or for a published book. The prize for scientific novices in the field of natural sciences was awarded to our employee Dr. Petra Zemunik, assistant in the Laboratory of Physical Oceanography.
In 2022, Dr. Zemunik collected, processed and verified the quality of tidal data measured around the world with a time resolution of one minute, placed them in a public data archive and described them in the leading journal for data sets in the earth sciences. Based on these data, she conducted a global climatological study of high-frequency sea level oscillations, studied the connection between oscillations and synoptic atmospheric phenomena, and published the results (as first author) in two leading scientific journals. Dr. Zemunik is also co-author of the analysis of the meteorological tsunami caused by acoustic gravity waves caused by the explosion of the Hunga Tonga volcano in 2022.
“Five years have passed since I started my career as a scientist, and this recognition reflects all the efforts and work I have done with the support of numerous colleagues and collaborators. I feel happy and fulfilled because I have such an interesting and challenging job that allows me to constantly learn new things, meet new people and explore new topics. I am grateful to be able to contribute to the scientific community and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead. I thank everyone who has helped me on this journey,” said Dr. Zemunik.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in the Croatian Parliament in December.