C) Environment and human health

1. Isolation and characterisation of culturable members of the microbiome of healthy babies

Skin rash is often seen in infants. According to the literature, we assume that one of the causes of such a skin reaction may be the interaction of microbes present on the skin and the development of the immature immune system. The purpose of this task is to isolate bacteria on the skin of healthy infants, to determine antimicrobial activities and, in certain strains, to determine their compatibility for use for probiotic purposes. The student will primarily master microbiological and molecular biological methods.

Mentor: dr. Aleš Lapanje (ales.lapanje@ijs.si)

2. Development of novel preparative procedures for production of radiopharmaceuticals for interest in theranostic applications

Field of theranostics becomes more and more important for modern diagnostics and treatment of different cancer diseases. Student will try to develop novel procedures for preparing radiopharmaceuticals of interest for theranostic applications, such as Lu-177. Special emphasis will be in development of procedures for carrier free radiopharmaceuticals, which could be produced in research reactor TRIGA. After initial literature search, student will focus on most promising radiopharmaceutical and develop effective route for its production.

Mentor: Marko Štrok (marko.strok@ijs.si)

3. Evaluation of Human biomonitoring data at the manucipality level

The first Slovenian human biomonitoring (HBM) program was implemented to estimate the level of exposure to selected environmental pollutants of adults in childbearing age living in Slovenia and to establish the first national references levels. The study included over 1000 participants from 12 study areas across Slovenia. The aim of this work is to compare HBM with spatial and environmental data at the municipality level and to explore whether there is a link between them. The student will master basic knowledge on human biomonitoring and use of regression analysis for linking different data sets.

Mentors: dr. Janja Snoj Tratnik (janja.tratnik@ijs.si), dr. David Kocman (david.kocman@ijs.si)

4. Interpretation of citizen science based indoor air quality data

The candidate will interpret data on indoor air quality collected with the help of low-cost sensors in 80 households in the Ljubljana area. He/she will organize the data into a single database, examine appropriate methods for data gaps detection, set criteria for filtering of the outliers, and finally interpret the data using time-activity diaries and according to the characteristics of the micro-locations where the data were collected. The latter data will be extracted using GIS (Geographic Information System) tools.

Mentor: dr. David Kocman (david.kocman@ijs.si)

5. Evaluation of diurnal and seasonal variations of nanoparticles dynamics in ambient air

Particulate matter (PM) contributes importantly to the pollution of ambient air and thus to the resulting adverse effects on human health. PM is produced and released to the atmosphere by natural phenomena and by anthropogenic sources. Particle morphology and chemical composition vary substantially, and their sizes range from molecular clusters of 1 nm to fog droplets and dust particulates as large as 100 μm. Fine particles (smaller than 2.5 µm, PM2.5) reach the alveoli in the lungs, where a portion of them (smaller than 1 µm, PM1) and especially ultrafine particles (smaller than 0.1 µm, PM0.1), can enter the bloodstream and pose a specific health threat. High toxicity of inhaled PM1 and PM0.1 is additionally caused by their high number concentrations and small diameters, due to their higher surface versus mass ratio. In the proposed research, diurnal and seasonal changes of particle (diameter 10 – 1000 nm) number concentrations and their size distributions will be monitored and evaluated in the ambient air of Ljubljana.  

Mentor: dr. Janja Vaupotič (janja.vaupotic@ijs.si)

6. Impact of outdoor air to indoor air quality - case of nanoparticles and radon progeny

Indoor air pollution is constantly changing with the emission of gases and particulate matter originating outdoors, and from the activities of residents indoors. The key sources of pollution, and thus human exposure indoors are the outdoor air itself, heating and combustion appliances, building site and type, quality of construction, and used materials. To evaluate the impact of pollution on public health, the study will be focused to nanoparticles and radon progeny in air, studying the effect of the outdoor air on the indoor air quality, on diurnal and seasonal scales in living and working environment in Ljubljana.

Mentor: dr. Janja Vaupotič (janja.vaupotic@ijs.si)