Women in Science Profiles
Dr. Jerneja Zganec Gros
I have been fond of linguistics, natural sciences and music for as long as I can remember. The technical knowledge I have gained enables me to explore these interests more effectively. After I had finished secondary school with a programme focused on natural sciences, I decided to study electrical engineering. It is true that most of my fellow students were boys, but the girls were mostly very hardworking and successful in passing all the exams. During my PhD studies I got the opportunity to participate in the development of the first speech synthesizer for the Slovenian language which enables an automatic translation of electronically written texts into speech. I devoted most of my time to linguistic research, particularly to the prosodic structure of the spoken Slovenian language which at that time was almost unexplored and which interested me very much. We transferred the results of our work into a system called Homer. This system enables the blind and visually impaired people to read electronic newspapers.
Already ten years ago, when there was not much talk about this in public, my colleagues and I recognized the power and meaning of the investment in research and development of new, innovative products. We started working together in a company which successfully marketed our knowledge. At present I work in a company called Alpineon Research and Development in which I am the co-founder. We carry out development projects ordered by different companies, but we also invest in the development of our own products whereby we pay a lot of attention to the intellectual property protection. We furthermore participate in several Slovenian and international projects in the field of language technologies. This gives me the opportunity to use the knowledge I have gained during my PhD studies in electrical engineering. One of such projects involves the development of a speech-to-speech communicator called VoiceTRAN. We continuously co-operate with several faculties and institutes in Slovenia and abroad whereby we try to find the right balance between the search for "useful" and "fundamental" as well as the dissemination of results through new products and patents on one side and scientific publications on the other.
No matter how much work I have, I always try to find time for music, sailing, mountaineering and travelling to distant countries. I love to learn about new countries, their people as well as customs – and, of course, about their language.