posted on

STEM is an innovative, interesting and exciting world!

Interview with biologist Danka Caković

Danka Caković is a professor at the biology study programme at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Podgorica and head of this study programme. She studies plants and has so far published over 80 scientific papers and announcements at international conferences. She is the author of 8 textbooks and workbooks for elementary school. She is the mother of Sofija and Lazar.

She would like to be able to fly because that way she would be able to come to aid faster and to get to know plants, animals and people around the Earth much more easily.

“I have three inexhaustible sources of happiness and satisfaction – my family, my friends and my work,” Danka said in an interview for the Europe House.

She remembers her first research venture very well. It is mentioned in the preface of the biology textbook for the VI grade, the author of which is Danka.

“My little house under a tree, cleverly hidden on the edge of my grandfather’s pasture, got a new tenant after a heavy summer downpour. It moved very slowly, was grey in colour, so it was named Sivko (Grey). It left a slimy trail behind and resembled my old acquaintance Prugica the snail, which was trapped in a jar with a perforated lid for two days. But it was not a snail, it didn’t have a house on its back? And what was inside Prugica’s house anyway? That day I decided to become a biologist and find answers to these and many other questions,” Danka recalls.

During her education, her greatest support was professor Vukić Pulević, who recognized her great love for nature research, advocated that she starts working at the university, gave her access to his library and “opened many doors”.

In recent years, her husband has been an important supporter, understanding the relevance of her field and laboratory research.

However, her greatest supporter is her mother – providing the strongest support and the strongest wind at her back.

But there were also obstacles on her STEM path.

“When I was in my fourth year and hoped to stay to work at the university, I received a reply from the head of the Biology Department at the time: We can’t hire you, we need a field researcher, we need a man. Although I was the best student in the field of natural sciences at the University of Montenegro in that generation, I was not good enough, because I was a woman,” recalls Danka.

Of the numerous scientific works, she especially likes the work in which the decade-long enigma of krčagovina (Amphoricarpos), an endemic Balkan plant, was solved, which she worked on in collaboration with dear colleagues from Innsbruck.

She is also very proud of the RTCG’s docuseries “Botanical Symbol of Montenegro”, in which she was the presenter and expert associate.

She has a message for girls who are attracted to science: “Just go for it! It is an innovative, interesting and exciting world. It is a good path to spiritual and material independence, which are important foundations of a quality life. It takes a lot of work, investment, and often sacrifice, but it’s worth the effort.”

What she misses the most from when she was a child was carefreeness.

“And two months of running and walking in the Kozica’s meadows and forests. I spent the best days of my childhood in Kozica. I return to that village every year, but due to numerous obligations, I only stay for 15 days, which is 2 months less than when I was a child. I miss the lovely people who made my childhood happy, but now they are no longer with me,” said Danka.

However, today no one forces her to eat green beans, and that’s what she likes most about being an adult.