Slovene Marija Strojnik Is Among the 500 Most Influential Scientists of the XXI Century

Physicist Marija Strojnik is an honorary member of the American Optical Society. She is one of the 500 most authoritative scientists of the 21st century.

She worked for 8 years at Rockwell International, which took part in the manufacture of a rocket that transported American crew to the moon. Today she is a world-famous physicist. The story of her life resembles the biography of Catherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician scientist who contributed a lot to the design of the first flights into space.

When her father, electrical engineer Aleš Strojnik, the manufacturer of the first electron microscope in Slovenia, got a job in the US, she became the only female student of the Physics Department at the University of Arizona. She completed her degree programme for two years, annually passing examinations without attending lectures. She explains her success primarily with the painstaking work.

Marija Strojnik was the first woman to defend her doctoral dissertation in the Department of Optical Research at the University of Arizona. Later she devoted herself to the physics of infrared radiation, because in this field she could apply her knowledge of experimental physics. Soon she became the Head of the Department of Optical Research. She had a laboratory, a good budget and a dozen subordinates at her disposal. At that time, her work, which consisted in studying the properties of laser beams, was not associated with the space studies, in which she achieved the best results and received the Robert H Goddard Award in 1996. This happened at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA (JPL) functioning as part of the California Institute of Technology.

Today Marija Strojnik works at the Centre for Optical Research of the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon (Mexico). According to her, the University offers her a very good post, excellent opportunities for research and, above all, a lot of freedom. Therefore, she can combine scientific work with private life. For the last 20 years, she has been searching for and studying the planets.