Published on 10.05.2021

A new Assistant Professor for the Adolphe Merkle Institute

Dr. Jovana Milic, a group leader in the Adolphe Merkle Institute’s Soft Matter Physics group, has been promoted to Assistant Professor at the University of Fribourg, where she is investigating hybrid materials for the new generation of photovoltaic devices, perovskite solar cells.

Milic, who joined the AMI last year, is the recipient of a prestigious PRIMA grant, which the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) awards to excellent female researchers who show a high potential for obtaining a professorship. The SNSF and universities across Switzerland recently assessed the status of PRIMA grantees, leading some institutions, including the University of Fribourg, to promote all PRIMA awardees to Assistant Professors.

“I am honored by the decision of the University of Fribourg to promote me to Assistant Professor and I appreciate the support of the Adolphe Merkle Institute and SNSF in the process,” says Milic. “This constitutes an important step in my academic career and I look forward to the new role.”

Since their research activities are intertwined, Milic’s team will remain part of Professor Ullrich Steiner’s Soft Matter Physics group, but Professor Milic will serve as the official supervisor for her graduate students, and will take on some teaching and institutional responsibilities at the University of Fribourg. She will also be able to pursue other collaborative projects as principal investigator, which can be further beneficial for her own research progress and her development as an independent scholar. 

“I am happy for Professor Jovana Milic, and believe this well-deserved promotion will further boost the impact that her work on new solar energy harvesting systems will have on science and society,” says AMI’s Director, Professor Christoph Weder. 

For her PRIMA grant, Milic is investigating hybrid materials that mimic control strategies found in nature, such as those in natural photosynthesis.  Her goal is to incorporate molecular moieties in perovskites to create layered structures that resist environmental degradation, and develop materials that can purposely modify their structure to control their properties under operational conditions. According to Milic, who previously worked at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and Lausanne (EPFL), this approach could be applied beyond solar-to-electric energy conversion for the development of smart nanomaterials.