Laboratory for Environmental and Life Sciences

Prof. dr. Mladen Franko

Mladen Franko, is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nova Gorica, in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, where he currently serves as the Vice-rector for education and Head of the Laboratory for Environmental and Life Sciences.
His current research interests and expertise include: development and application of new analytical methods based on laser photothermal spectroscopy for detection of heavy metals and their species and organic compounds following chromatographic separation and FIA including microfluidic systems; development of new biosensors and laser detection techniques for determination of toxic and essential compounds in environmental and biological samples; and investigations of photochemical degradation of organic environmental pollutants and related toxicity.
His research achievements are reported in 124 works registered in Web of Science database, which were cited over 1300 times. In addition, he published 5 book chapters and presented over 60 invited lectures at international conferences and meetings, universities and other institutions. For his scientific achievements in analytical chemistry he was awarded the “Zois Prize” – State Award for Science of the Republic of Slovenia in 2005.
From 2004 till 2017, he served as the Vice-president of the Slovenian Chemical Society and till 2014 he was Associate editor of Acta Chimica Slovenica.
Mladen Franko lectured undergraduate and graduate courses on Chemistry, Fundamentals of Environmental Science, Remote Sensing, Analytical Chemistry, Analytical Instrumentation, Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology at University of Nova Gorica, University of Ljubljana, University of Maribor, University of Turin (Italy), and China University of Geosciences in Wuhan.

Education and Professional Qualifications

1981 B.Sc. Chemistry, University of Ljubljana
1983 M.Sc. Chemistry, University of Ljubljana
1990 Ph.D. Anal. Chemistry, Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA



2015 – University of Maribor: Visiting professor of Analytical Chemistry
2010 – University of Nova Gorica: Vice-rector for eduction
2009-2010 University of Nova Gorica: Vice-president for education
2007 University of Nova Gorica: Professor of Chemistry
2007 China university of geosciences, Wuhan, China: Guest professor
2005-2013 University of Nova Gorica: Director, Graduate program of Environmental Sciences
2000-2010 University of Turin, Torino, Italy: Visiting Professor
1999-2009 University of Nova Gorica: Dean – School of Environmental Sciences
1988-1993 Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology, University of Ljubljana: Teaching Assistant for the field of Analytical Chemistry
1987 Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA: Teaching Assistant


2017 – University of Nova Gorica, Head – Laboratory of Environmental and Life Sciences
2013-2017 University of Nova Gorica, Head – Laboratory of Environmental Research – Scientific counselor
1999-2005 University of Nova Gorica: Head – Laboratory of Environmental Research
1997-1999 School of Environmental Sciences, Nova Gorica Polytechnic:
Head – Department of Physical and Analytical Environmental Chemistry
1995-1997 Jožef Stefan Institute, Department of Environmental Sciences:
Head – Laboratory for Analytical Chemistry
1993-1995 Jožef Stefan Institute, Department of Physical and Environmental Chemistry: Head – Laboratory for Analytical and Environmental Chemistry
1983-1993 Jožef Stefan Institute, Department of Nuclear Chemistry: Research Associate
1981-1983 University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology, Chemistry Department: Research Assistant


2014– Council of higher education of the Republic of Slovenia, vice-chairman
2009–2011 EMUNI Euro-Mediterranean University, Member of the Senate
2008–2010 Center EMINU, Chairman of Academic Board
2006- Slovenian Research Agency, Member committee for interdisciplinary research
2005–2009 Council of higher education of the Republic of Slovenia, member Committee for Public Services
2004–2014 Acta Chimica Slovenica – Associate Editor
2003– Edvard Rusjan Foundation, President of Scientific Council
2002–2004 Council of higher education of the Republic of Slovenia, member Committee for Natural Sciences and Technology
1995–1996 Jožef Stefan Institute, Advisor to Director General

Research topics

Analytical chemistry:

  • development and application of new analytical methods based on laser photothermal spectroscopy for detection of heavy metals and their species (Cr(III), Cr(VI), Fe(II), Fe(III), Fe-pyoverdine, nano-Ag, Ag+ ...) and organic compounds (pesticides, fatty acids, antioxidants, …) following chromatographic separation and flow injection analysis (FIA);
  • development and application of bioanalytical methods and laser detection techniques in combination with FIA and microfluidic systems for determination of toxic (organophosphates, neonicotinoids, allergens, biogenic amines, cyanotoxins …) and essential compounds (carrotenoids, anthocyanins) in food and environmental samples, as well as biomarkers in medical diagnostics (NGAL, cholinesterases, viruses and pseudovirions);

Environmental chemistry:

  • photochemical degradation of organic environmental pollutants (organophosphates, neonicotinoids and rhyanodine insecticides, antibiotics, humic substances) in laboratory and environmental conditions
  • measurements of heavy metals and organic compounds in water (incl. cloud water) and in biological samples (phytoplankton, aquatic plants)

Physical chemistry:

  • optical and thermal characterization of thin-layered materials by photoacoustic spectroscopy and beam deflection spectrometry
  • investigations of diffusion processes in microfluidic systems
  • investigations of fast chemical reactions by laser flash photolysis and laser spectroscopy


2013 “Primorski um 2012” prize for achievements in sciense, awarded by Radio Koper, TV Koper and Primorske Novice Journal
2005 “Zois Prize” for scientific achievements in analytical chemistry – State Award for Science of the Republic of Slovenia
1994, 1996 Dutch Academy of Sciences Fellowship (NWO, The Netherlands)
1992 Visiting Scientist Fellowship (Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands)
1989/90 Arthur J. Schmitt Fellowship (Marquette University – USA)
1988/89 Marquette University Fellowship (USA)

Organization of international scientific meetings and schools

2016 The International Summer School: “Basic Photothermal and Photoacoustic Techniques: Theory, Instrumentation and Application” 19-26 October 2016, Erice, Italy, Director of the School
2015 The International Summer School: “Photothermal Instrumental Techniques” 4-10 September 2015, Novi Sad, Serbia, Director of the School
2012 19th YISAC Young Investigators Seminar on Analytical Chemistry, Chairman of International scientific committee
2010 EMEC11-11th European Meeting on Environmental Chemistry, 2010, Portoroz, Chairman of International Scientific Committee
2005 Gordon research Conference “Photoacoustic and Photothermal Phenomena” 2005, Trieste, Co-Chairman
2003-2007 13th, 14th, and 15th. International Symposium “Spectroscopy in Theory and Practice”, Nova Gorica, Chairman of Organizing and International Scientific Committee

Memberships in organizing committees

2013 CPPTA – The Conference on Photoacoustic and Phtotothermal Theory and Applications, Warsaw 2013, Member international scientific committee
2012 19th YISAC Young Investigators Seminar on Analytical Chemistry, Chairman international scientific committee
2010 EMEC11 – 11th European Meeting on Environmental Chemistry, Portorož, 2010, Chairman International Scientific Committee
2005 Gordon research Conference “Photoacoustic and Photothermal Phenomena” 2005, Trieste, Co-Chair
2003–2007 13th, 14th, and 15th. International Symposium “Spectroscopy in Theory and Practice”, Nova Gorica,
2003, 2005, 2007 Chairman of Organizing and International Scientific Committee
2002 4th Mediterranean Basin Conference on Analytical Chemistry Portorož, 2002
Y – member Organizing Committee
1993-2001 International Symposium “Spectroscopy in Theory and Practice” Bled – member Organizing Committee
1997 “International Symposium on Environmental Epidemiology in Central and Eastern Europe: Critical Issues for Improving Health”, Smolenice, Slovak Republic, 1997 , member, International Scientific Committee
1996 3rd Young Investigators’ Seminar on Analytical Chemistry, Ljubljana, 1996
- member, Scientific Committee

Memberships in professional associations

2010- ACE – Association of Chemistry and the Environment
2003-2017 Slovene Society of Toxicology
1992 – IUPAC
1992 – Association of Nuclear Experts of Slovenia
1981 – Slovene Chemical Society
1987-1990 Society for Applied Spectroscopy

Referee for international scientific journals

  • Acta Chimica Slovenica
  • Journal of Chromatography A
  • Analytical Sciences
  • Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (and before Frezenius Journal of Analytical Chemistry)
  • Mendeleev Communications
  • Spectrochimica Acta A
  • Applied Physics B
  • Talanta
  • Review of Scientific Instruments
  • International Journal of Thermophysics
  • Environmental Chemistry Letters
  • International Journal of Photoenergy
  • BioMed Research International
  • Analytical Letters


  • Cabrera H., Korte, D., Kaukler D., Fanetti M., Daubront E., Franko, M., Determination of petrophysical properties of sedimentary rocks by optical methods, Sedim. Geol. 350, 2017, 72-79, doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2017.01.007 .
  • Markushev D., Ordonez-Miranda J., Rabasović M., Chirtoc M., Todorović D., Bialkowski S., Korte D., Franko M., Thermal and elastic characterization of glassy carbon thin films by photoacoustic measurements, Eur. Phys. J. Plus 132, 2017, 33.
  • Gor’kova T., Liu M., Proskurnin M., Franko M., Determination of trace Cr(VI) with diphenylcarbazide by μFIA–thermal lens microscopy, Acta Chim. Slov. 63, 2016, 772-780.
  • Tran C.D., Prosenc F., Franko M., Benzi G., One-pot synthesis of biocompatible silver nanoparticle composites from cellulose and keratin: characterization and antimicrobial activity, Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2016, doi:10.1021/acsami.6b14347.
  • Korte D., Cabrera H., Toro J., Grima P., Leal P., Villabona A., Franko M., Optimized frequency dependent phototothermal beam deflection spectroscopy, Laser Phys. Lett. 13, 2016, 125701.
  • Žiberna L., Martelanc M., Franko M., Passamonti S., Bilirubin is an endogenous antioxidant in human vascular endothelial cells, Sci. Rep. 6, 2016, 29240, doi: 10.1038/srep29240.
  • Tran C.D., Prosenc F., Franko M., Benzi G., Synthesis, structure and antimicrobial property of green composites from cellulose, wool, hair and chicken feather, Carbohyd. Polym., 151, 2016, 1269-1276. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2016.06.021.
  • Liu M., Malovrh S., Franko M., Microfluidic flow injection thermal lens microscopy for high throughput and sensitive analysis of sub-μL samples, Anal. Methods, 8, 2016, 5053-5060, doi: 10.1039/C6AY00932H.
  • Liu M., Franko M., Thermal Lens Spectrometry: Still a Technique on the Horizon? Int. J. Thermophys. 2016, 37:67, doi: 10.1007/s10765-016-2072-y.
  • Martelanc M., Žiberna L., Passamonti S., Franko M.: Application of high-performance liquid chromatography combined with ultra-sensitive thermal lens spectrometric detection for simultaneous biliverdin and bilirubin assessment at trace levels in human serum, Talanta, 154, 2016, 92–98 doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2016.03.053.
  • Franko M., Liu M., Boškin A., Delneri A., Proskurnin M.A.: Fast Screening Techniques for Neurotoxigenic Substances and Other Toxicants and Pollutants based on Thermal Lensing and Microfluidic Chips, Anal. Sci., 2015 (accepted).
  • Cabrera H., Zumeta-Dubé I., Korte D., Grima-Gallardo P., Alvarado F., Aitken J., Brant J.A., Zhang J.H., Calderón A., Marín E., Aguilar-Frutis M., Erazo J.E., Perez-Cappe E., Franko M.: Thermoelectric transport properties of CuFeInTe3, J. Alloys Compd. 651, 2015, 490-496, doi: 10.1016/j.jallcom.2015.
  • Cabrera H., Korte D., Franko M.: Mode-mismatched confocal thermal-lens microscope with collimated probe beam, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 86, 2015, 053701.
  • Lubej M., Novak U., Liu M., Martelanc M., Franko M., Plazl I.: Microfluidic droplet-based liquid–liquid extraction: online model validation, Lab Chip, 15, 2015, 2233–2239.
  • Jovanov P., Guzsvány V., Lazić S., Franko M., Sakač M., Šarić L., Kos J.: Development of HPLC-DAD method for determination of neonicotinoids in honey, J. Food Compos. Anal., 40, 2015, 106-113.
  • Korte D., Carraro G., Maccato C., Franko M.: Determination of thermooptical and transport parameters of ε-iron(III) oxide-based nanocomposites by beam deflection spectroscopy, Optical Materials, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.optmat.2015.01.029
  • Korte D., Franko M.: Application of complex geometrical optics to determination of thermal, transport, and optical parameters of thin films by the photothermal beam deflection technique, J. Opt. Soc. Am. A, 32, 2015, 61–74.
  • Budal S., Martelanc M., Radovanović T., Franko M.: Thermal lens spectrometric determination of ammonium in water samples based on indophenol formation with sodium salicylate, Int. J. Environment and Health, 7, 2014, 101-113.
  • Korte D., Carraro G., Fresno F., Franko M.: Thermal Properties of Surface-Modified α- and ε-Fe2O3 Photocatalysts Determined by Beam Deflection Spectroscopy, Int. J Thermophys., 2014, 35, 2107-2114.
  • Radovanović T., Liu M., Likar P., Klemenc M., Franko M.: Microfluidic Flow Injection Analysis with Thermal Lens Microscopic Detection for Determination of NGAL, Int. J. Thermophys. 2014, doi: 10.1007/s10765-014-1699-9
  • Korte D., Franko M.: Photothermal deflection experiments: comparison of existing theoretical models and their applications to characterization of TiO2-based thin films. Int. J. Thermophys. 2014, doi: 10.1007/s10765-014-1568-6.
  • Luterotti S., Bicanic D., Marković K., Franko M.: Carotenes in processed tomato after thermal treatment, Food Control (2014),
  • Liu M., Franko M.: Thermal lens microscopy: characterization and optimization, Applied Mechanics and Materials 624, 2014, 317-321.
  • Liu M., Franko M.: Influences of Detection Pinhole and Sample Flow on Thermal Lens Detection in Microfluidic Systems, Int. J. Thermophys. 35, 2014, 2178–2186. DOI 10.1007/s10765-014-1714-1.
  • Liu M., Franko M.: Progress in thermal lens spectrometry and its application in microscale analytical devices, Crit. Rev. Anal. Chem. 44, 2014, 328-353.
  • Antonijević M.D., Arsović M., Čáslavský J., Cvetković V., Dabić P., Franko M., Ilić G., Ivanović M., Ivanović N., Kosovac M., Medić D., Najdanović S., Nikolić M., Novaković J., Radovanović T., Ranić Đ., Šajatović B., Špijunović G., Stankov I., Tošović J., Trebše P., Vasiljević O., Schwarzbauer J.: Actual contamination of the Danube and Sava rivers at Belgrade (2013), J. Serb. Chem. Soc. (2013) doi: 10.2298/JSC131105014A
  • Martelanc M., Žiberna L., Passamonti S., Franko M.: Direct determination of free bilirubin in serum at sub-nanomolar levels, Anal. Chim. Acta 809, 2014, 174–182.
  • Jovanov P., Guzsvany V., Franko M., Lazić S., Sakač M., Milovanović I., Nedeljković N.: Development of multiresidue DLLME and QuEChERSbased LC-MS/MS method for determination of selected neonicotinoid insecticides in honey liqueur, Food Res. Int. 55, 2014, 11-19, DOI: 10.1016/j.foodres.2013.10.031
  • Liu M., Novak U., Plazl I., Franko M.: Optimization of a thermal lens microscope for detection in a microfluidic chip. Int. J. Thermophys., 35, 2014, 2011-2022.
  • Liu M., Franko M.: Thermal lens spectrometry under excitation of a divergent pump beam, Appl. Phys. B, 115, 2014, 269-277
  • Marinković B.P., Delneri A., Rabasović M.S., Terzić M., Franko M., Šević D.: Investigation and detection of cyanobacterial Cr-phycoerythrin by laser based techniques, J. Serb. Chem. Soc. 79, 2014, 185-198
  • Jug T., Franko M.: Fluorescence quenching as an indicator of the conformational change of humic acids, Emir. J. Food Agric. 25, 2013, 994 -1001
  • Barreca D., Carraro G., Gasparotto A., Maccato C., Rossi F., Salviati G., Tallarida M., Das C., Fresno F., Korte D. Štangar Lavrenčič U., Franko M., Schmeier D.: Surface functionalization of nanostructured Fe2O3 polymorphs: from design to light-activated applications, Appl. Mater. Interfaces 5, 2013, 7130–7138
  • Todorović D. M., Rabasović M., Markushev D. D., Franko M., Lavrenčič Štangar U: Study of TiO2 thin films on Si substrate by the photoacoustic elastic bending method, Sci. China, Phys. Mech. Astron. 56, 2013,1285-1293
  • Jovanov P., Guzsvány V., Franko M., Lazić S., Sakač M., Šarić B., Banjac V., Multi-residue method for determination of selected neonicotinoid insecticides in honey using optimized dispersive liquid–liquid microextraction combined with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, Talanta 111, 2013, 125-133
  • Tran C.D., Duri S., Delneri A., Franko M., Chitosan-cellulose composite materials: Preparation, Characterization and application for removal of microcystin, J. Hazard. Mater. 252-253, 2013, 355-366
  • Luterotti S., Marković K., Franko M., Bicanic D., Madžgalj A., Kljak K.: Comparison of spectrophotometric and HPLC methods for determinationof carotenoids in foods, Food Chemistry 140, 2013, 390-397
  • Korte D., Pavlica E., Bratina G., Franko M.: Characterization of pure and modified TiO2 layer on glass and aluminum support by beam deflection spectrometry, Int. J. Thermophys., 2013, DOI: 10.1007/s10765-013-1538-4
  • Liu M., Franko M.: Theoretical Analysis for Sensitivity Enhancement in Broad-band Thermal Lens Microscope, Adv. Mat. Res., 503-504, 2012, 1480-1483.
  • Liu M., Korte D., Franko M.: Theoretical description of thermal lens spectrometry in micro space. J. Appl. Phys., 111, 2012, 033109.
  • Liu M., Franko M.: An incoherent light source excited thermal lens microscope Appl.Phys.Lett., 100, 2012, 121110.
  • Korte D., Bruzzoniti M. C., Sarzanini C., Franko M.: Influence of foreign ions on determination of ionic Ag in water by formation of nanoparticles in a FIA-TLS system. Anal. Lett., 44, 2011, 2901-2910.
  • Žabar R., Dolenc D., Jerman T., Franko M., Trebše P.: Photolytic and photocatalytic degradation of 6-chloronicotinic acid. Chemosphere 85, 2011, 861-868.
  • D. Korte, M.C. Bruzzoniti, C. Sarzanini, M. Franko, Thermal lens spectrometric determination of colloidal and ionic silver in water. Int. J. Thermophys., 32, 2011, 818-827.
  • A. Čevdek, M. Franko, Comparison of CIM disc and CPG glass as solid supports for bioanalytical columns used in allergen detection, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 398, 2010, 555–562. DOI: 10.1007/s00216-010-3921-3
  • C.D. Tran, M. Franko, “Thermal Lens Spectroscopy” in Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry, eds. R.A. Meyers, John Wiley: Chichester., 2010. DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a9079.
  • M.C. Bruzzoniti, D. Korte Kobylinska, M. Franko, C. Sarzanini, Flow injection method for the determination of silver concentration in drinking water for spacecrafts, Anal. Chim. Acta, 665, 2010, 69-73.
  • D. Korte Kobylinska, M.C. Bruzzoniti, C. Sarzanini, M. Franko, Determination of colloid silver in drinking water by flow injection analysis with TLS spectrometric UV detection, J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 214, 2010, 012119.
  • A. Čevdek, M. Franko, Solvent effects in TLS determination of beta-lactoglobulin, J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 214, 2010, 012019
  • M. Čolović, D. Krstić, S. Petrović, A. Leskovac, G. Joksić, J. Savić, M. Franko, P. Trebše, V. Vasić, Toxic effects of diazinon and its photodegradation products, Toxicol. Lett., 193, 2010, 9-18.
  • M.D. Rabasović, M.G. Nikolić, M.D. Dramićanin, M. Franko, D.D. Markushev, Low-cost, portable photoacoustic setup for solid samples, Meas. Sci. Technol., 20, 2009, 095902.
  • M. Berden Zrimec, J. Kožar Logar, A. Zrimec, L. Drinovec, M. Franko, A. Malej, New approach in studies of microalgal cell lysis, Cent. Eur. J. Biol., 4, 2009, 313-320.
  • A. Boškin, C.D. Tran, M. Franko, Oxidation of organophosphorus pesticides with chloroperoxidase enzyme in the presence of an ionic liquid as co-solvent, Environ. Chem. Lett. 7, 2009, 267 – 270.
  • M. Franko, Bioanalytical Applications of TLS, In: Thermal wave physics and related photothermal techniques: Basic principles and recent developments, ISBN 978-81-7895-401-1 (Ed. E. Marin), Research Signpost Press, 2009.
  • P. Trebše, M. Franko, M. Bavcon Kralj, U. Černigoj, A. Boškin, Recent progress in methods for determination and AOM removal of organophosphorus and neonicotinoid insecticides. In: Kanzantzakis, C.M. (ed.). Progress in Pesticides Research. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, pp. 415-438.

Nova Gorica, 18 November 2015