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At the end, everything always connects to entirety

Jaka Gašper Pečnik, assistant researcher at InnoRenew CoE, main area of research: mechanics of wood and adhesive bonding

 

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

I grew up in Velike Lašče where my family comes from. The village is not far away from the Slovenian capital city, Ljubljana, so until the end of my study, I remained a commuter. Velike Lašče remains my hometown even though I spend time now working on the coast.

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

I studied wood science at the University of Ljubljana’s Biotechnical Faculty. I have been in close touch with wood since I was a child, as my great-grandfather was a carpenter. This profession remained in the family until my generation. I love nature and working with natural materials like wood. All of this led me in choosing my study.

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

As an assistant researcher, I often find myself in different projects with different roles. Common to all of them is that I am trying to appropriately carry out experimental testing to describe and understand mechanical characteristics and responses of natural wood, modified wood and adhesive bonds.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

Typically, it might be that each day is different from the previous one. I often work in a mechanical testing laboratory for materials. Before that, I prepare samples in the workshop according to the planned testing. At first, however, it takes a lot of time to read and search for the literature, discuss and plan the work. The whole process gives a better picture, which, in the end, is important for understanding the results and thus their interpretation.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

The nature of the work is dynamic, and you never know what to expect. If all goes well in the beginning, it will certainly stop somewhere at one point. The work requires creativity, mutual cooperation and solving problems in small steps.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

I find it hard to pick one thing. The challenge is to discover and learn new things as well as the preparation and implementation of experiments. When studying natural materials, I find it crucial that we are accurate, conscientious and consistent as the material itself serves up the “defects” that are common in wood.

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

Nikola Tesla especially impressed me with his visionary and revolutionary ideas on energy transmission and use as well as numerous patents he held in this field, for which he did not gain a well-deserved reputation due to the more influential and, especially, financially better supported famous names of that time.

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

Books, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and Sfinga (The Sphinx) by Ante Mahkota, are very close to my heart. The sea and the mountains are much diametrically opposed, but they all have in common depth, vastness and power. I have always been fascinated by adventures and stories that touch these beauties that nature has given to us.

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

I often listen to podcasts. I read a lot at work, and radio shows seem great to spice up a car ride.

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

A cliff overlooking the sea at the end of the vineyards at Debeli rtič.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

Endurance.

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

Every moment in life is important and has some meaning because, at the end, everything always connects to entirety.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

The ingenuity of nature in creating its structure.