17 December 2021
Photo: STA, Daniel Novakovič
Saša Bajt at the award ceremony in Ljubljana.
DESY researcher Saša Bajt has been awarded the title Ambassador of Science of the Republic of Slovenia for her outstanding scientific achievements and her intensive collaboration with researchers and students from Slovenia. Ambassador of Science is one of the highest national prizes of the Republic of Slovenia. Bajt received the prestigious award at a formal award ceremony in Ljubljana.
The Slovenian-born physicist heads the group for X-ray Optics for Extreme Conditions in the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) and is also a principal investigator in the Cluster of Excellence "CUI: Advanced Imaging of Matter". Among other things, Bajt is developing a new generation of X-ray lenses and X-ray microscopes, which will enable multidimensional studies of different materials and biological samples on a nanometer scale. A nanometre is a millionth of a millimetre.
“Saša Bajt is a true pioneer in the field of X-ray microscopy and other analytical techniques,” explained the jury. “In her work she successfully includes and connects with Slovenian research institutions.” Bajt has also involved students and scientists from Slovenia in the recent active search for a possible Covid-19 drug at PETRA III. “Due to the impact and reputation of her research work and the establishment of committed, multifaceted and intensive collaboration with scientists from different institutions in Slovenia, Dr. Saša Bajt is a true ambassador of science,” the jury emphasized.
Many challenges can only be solved together
“I feel deeply honored,” said the DESY researcher. “Science profits from active collaborations and exchange of ideas. We are facing many challenges associated with energy, climate and health, which we can solve only if we work together. However, we need to utilize the full potential of our society and to make sure that there are no barriers that prevent women to become scientists.”
After the award ceremony, which was prominently broadcasted on Slovenian TV, Bajt was also interviewed on the evening news. As Slovenia's main challenges in science, she noted greater openness, closer integration, and taking advantage of opportunities at the European level. She also gave a lecture at the University of Ljubljana explaining the efforts she leads at DESY on sample delivery for X-ray Free Electron Lasers, in addition to her work in X-ray microscopy. “We have an extremely fruitful collaboration where the groundbreaking numerical simulations from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana have brought new insights and opportunities that have enabled experiments at the X-ray laser European XFEL,” explained Bajt.
After earning her doctorate at the University of Heidelberg, Bajt had worked at the University of Chicago and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California before joining DESY in Hamburg. For her outstanding work she has won several prizes and awards. She is also a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (now Optica). Text: DESY, ed.