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Scent of the forest on a rainy autumn morning

Kim Turk Mehes, Living Lab InnoRenew manager and policy consultant


  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

I spent most of my childhood in Ljubljana and several years in the USA. My parents are both biologists. We lived in the USA during their PhD studies and sabbaticals. Despite living abroad, my home has always been, and still is, Šiška – my favorite part of Ljubljana.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

At the undergraduate level, I studied International Relations. Why? Out of stubbornness and defiance of my parents and because I wanted to become an ambassador to the United States ? During my studies, I soon realized I was more interested in development than in diplomacy. Since development studies require knowledge of economics, I enrolled in postgraduate studies of international economics immediately after graduation.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

My work involves connecting people, identifying and understanding their needs, and finding opportunities and ways to engage them in the work of our institute. Knowing and empathizing with the various actors in the research process (policy makers, industry representatives and the support environment) is crucial if we are to carry out research that is not only interesting but also relevant for end-users and society at large.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

A typical day at InnoRenew CoE? Does it exist? For me, the dynamics of my work depend on my current focus – writing project applications, drafting deliverables for individual projects, making contact with industry, working with policy makers, in-depth studies of specific topics related to sustainability, circular economy and forest-based value chains, drafting strategies, designing new activities, event organization…

  • What makes you excited about your work?

That my knowledge and experience can contribute to the realization of the mission and vision of our institute.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

The dynamics of working in a new research organization.

Which scientist or scientific achievement are you fascinated by and why?

Throughout my career, I have worked with many wonderful scientists, and I have come to understand how difficult their work is, as it is very competitive, and requires more and more bureaucracy that takes much of their already limited time for research. Thus, it is difficult to say who I particularly value. However, one is definitely my father, prof. dr. Tom Turk, who is not only a scientist and a university professor, but also a socially active citizen. He understands his role reaches far beyond his narrow research interests and, thus, is continuously contributing to the popularization of science and its role in society.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

Books: “Just Kids”, the autobiography of Patti Smith; “Ljubezen” [Love] by Marjan Rožanc and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”.

Music: Classic rock music that reminds me of family road trips and a time passed.

Art: My portraits painted by Lia Nur – my 2.5-year-old daughter.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

“Becoming”, Michelle Obama’s autobiography; the classic children’s radio play “Who Made Videk’s Shirt” and Christiane Amanpour’s show “Sex & Love Around the World”.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

Mesečev zaliv [Moon Bay] is certainly the most beautiful part of the Slovenian coast.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

The depth of the sea, the heights of the mountains and my work when it positively impacts the work of our researchers and helps InnoRenew CoE grow and develop.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

The Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar” [Traveler, there is no path, the path is made by walking], while Nejc Zaplotnik, a Slovenian mountain climber, said “Kdor išče cilj, bo ostal prazen, ko ga bo dosegel, kdor pa najde pot, bo cilj vedno nosil v sebi” [He who seeks the goal, will remain empty once he reaches it, but he who finds the way, will forever carry the goal inside him]. We must, therefore, find the right path, and, if we don’t, we can always pave it ourselves.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

The scent of the forest on a rainy autumn morning, the warmth of our house on Velika planina and the beauty of modern wooden structures.