Prof. dr. sc. Vernesa Smolčić is a world-renowned astrophysicist and full professor at the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. She continued her studies in the USA, Germany and Australia, and after nine years of work and training at the best universities in the world, she returned to Croatia. Her research focuses on the formation and development of galaxies, she studies active galactic nuclei, radio galaxies and extragalactic star formation. She is a member of numerous international collaborations, and in some of them she holds leadership positions, such as in the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) and The Ultimate XMM Extragalactic Survey. Among other things, she is the coordinator of the activities of the Faculty of Science related to the European Space Agency and a member of the Reference Group for Space (MSE).
She has published over 140 scientific papers and received numerous awards for her work, such as the Ernst Patzer Award, Zagreb Woman of the Year 2014, Recognition of the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Science for significant scientific achievement and contribution to the reputation of the Faculty of Science, COSMO Scientist of the Year 2015, State Award for Science for 2017, Award of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts for the highest scientific and artistic achievements in the Republic of Croatia for 2019 in the field of mathematical, physical and chemical sciences, and was included in the list of most successful people of generation 2013 by Forbes magazine. In addition to the prestigious ERC Starting Grant for the project “Constraining Stellar Mass and Supermassive Black Hole Growth through Cosmic Times: Paving the Way for the Next Generation Sky Surveys”, she has led numerous scientific projects.
The professor is very active in popularizing science and runs a project called Astroučionica, a web platform intended for the popularization of astronomy. Astroučionica was created during the implementation of the ERC project in 2018 and has continued to grow since then. Prof. Smolčić participated in the creation of the picture book for children “Psi u svemiru” (“Dogs in space”) and she is the co-author of the cookbook for children “Astrokuharica.” She is also the ambassador of the “Deep Above All” campaign of Jana’s natural mineral water.
Openness, access, interconnectedness and identity in science
In her lecture, Vernesa Smolčić will use examples from her career and the fields of astronomy and astrophysics to explain the importance of teamwork and connection in science, programming in working with large databases, and open access to data and knowledge at all levels of openness, emphasizing the importance of versatile identities of scientists.