Birth Date: September 26, 1926
Place of Birth: Škofja Loka, Slovenija


KEYWORDS: Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer, chemistry, Slovenia, sustainable development, higher education.


Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer is a Slovenian chemist who has been involved with shaping academia in Slovenia. She has made a remarkable impact in the field of education and chemistry, while being involved in national and international organisations. Her work involved different functions for the United Nations Development Programme, Unesco, International Labour Organization, World Bank and US Environmental Protection Agency. She had also written a collection of children’s books named The mind is better than the velvet on different topics about natural sciences and student’s books for chemistry.



Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer was born in the small town Škofja Loka in the former Yugoslavia in September 1926. Her father was the owner of a local wood company Jelovica until the big crisis in 1929, when he lost everything and the family moved to Karlovac, Croatia.⁵ They lived a poor life and fought hard for their survival. As a child she was called ‘Sulčkova Adi’ and back then she tried to earn some money with selling small bottles of whey.⁵ In 1942 her family started cooperating with Yugoslav Partisans and she joined the youth movement of the National Liberation Army (NOB). After the war she finished her education to become a primary school teacher and started teaching soon after completing it. This was not enough to enroll to the University and she wanted more, and thus beside teaching at the primary school she also enrolled in a secondary school in Poljane (Ljubljana). She got interested in chemistry because of an inspiring professor while helping as an assistant with different chemistry experiments.³

In 1963 she graduated from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and technology with a major in chemistry and started looking for a PhD program. During the time of her doctoral studies she had many different opportunities to go abroad and widen her academic horizon.She undertook part of her PhD abroad, and, as a recipient of Fulbright scholarship, studied in Switzerland, England and also in the United States.³  She was interested in research of alkaloids and antibiotics and worked closely with pharmaceutical industry.³ After 1965 she started studying organic chemistry at the Pedagogical Academy in Ljubljana (current Faculty of Education) and became the Dean in the years between 1966 and 1969.

She got recognized internationally when implementing her methods of ‘Multidisciplinary synthesis of knowledge’, especially with cooperation projects between the university and the industry.¹

She was a part of Delors Commission, and thus, in the administration team of Jacques Delors, the eighth President of the European Commission. She held a position in the International Commission on Education under UNESCO. Their main message back then was that everybody is in the role of a teacher sometimes, but most of the time we are all students.³

In 1999, she was awarded the Honda prize for her contribution to the implementation of environment – friendly manufacturing processes. She was part of a development process for an information system that monitors and helps control harmful industrial waste.⁴ She is (still) the only woman that has got the prize.

She met her husband, doctor paediatrician Pavle Kornhauser, at a very young age and after being married for many years, they felt distanced from each other and decided to live separately. They have one daughter, who is also Alexandra’s only child. After her divorce Aleksandra met her colleague Malcolm Frazer, and decided to move to Oxford and marry him at age 64. They wrote scholarly books together and lived in Oxford for 20 years before moving back to Slovenia. Her second husband died in 2014.

In Slovenia, Aleksandra is known for her contribution for the Slovenian natural science and academia. She is known as a persistent, highly motivated and determined person, a great educator and chemist. She is an honorary woman in science in Slovenia, showing young women that everything they want to accomplish is possible, even when it seems difficult. Currently she is a dean at the Jožef Štefan International Postgraduate School in Ljubljana, Slovenia.



“If you decide to do research and education, do not expect glory and money. Research is inherently a reward and a process and this is more important than achievements.”

Interview with Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer (, (my translation)


“The mind is better than velvet.”

Interview with Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer (, (my translation)



1981: Became director of the International Center for Chemical Studies under UNESCO in Slovenia;

1991: Awarded the title Ambassador of Science of the Republic of Slovenia;

1997: The Zois Award for a lifetime achievement;

1999: Awarded international Honda award from the Honda Foundation from Japan;

2000: The Silver Order of Freedom of the Republic of Slovenia.



Frazer, J. Malcolm / Aleksandra Kornhauser (editors), (1986), Ethics and Social Responsibility in Science Education, Science and Technology Education and Future Human Needs, Volume 2, Pergamon Press, Oxford.

Kornhauser, F. Aleksandra, (1992), [Kemija] 8 [online], Državna založba Slovenije,  <> (last accessed 8. Jan 2018).

Kornhauser, F. Aleksandra, (1965), Problem sekalonove in krisergonove kisline ter sorodnih barvil iz rženih rožičkov: doctoral disertation [online], Univerza v Ljubljani, Fakulteta za kemijo in kemijsko tehnologijo, Ljubljana, <> (last accessed 8. Jan 2018).

Kornhauser, Aleksandra / C.N.R. Rao / D.J. Waddington Elsevier, (2013), Chemical Education in the Seventies, Pergamon Press Ltd., Oxford.

Kornhauser, Aleksandra / Bojana Boh, (2010), ”Reducing the Toxicity of Pesticides”, in Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry, vol 3 (4), pages 281 – 284, <> (last accessed 15. Jan 2018).

Kardoš, Dragotin / Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer, (1997), Metode za doseganje dodane vrednosti pri procesiranju naravoslovno-tehničnih informacij: master’s thesis [online], Univerza v Ljubljani, Naravoslovnotehniška fakulteta, Ljubljana, <> (last accessed 8. Jan 2018).

Kornhauser, Aleksandra, (1979), Trends in Research in Chemical Education, in European Journal of Science Education, vol. 1, issue 1, p. 21 – 50.

Kornhauser, Aleksandra, (2007), book collection: The mind is better than the velvet,

— (2007), Odpri oči in napni možgane, Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.

— (2007), Oglje ni samo za čevapčiče, Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.

— (2007), Voda – čudežna tekočina, Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.

— (2007), Pametna kuharica, Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.

— (2007), Pisani svet, Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.

— (2007), Vesela druščina pri umivanju, Ljubljana, Mladinska knjiga.



  1. Pivec, Franci, (2003), ”Dr. Aleksandra Kornhauser”, in Organizacija znanja, vol 8, no. 3, Maribor, IZUM, <> (last accessed 10 Jan. 2018)
  2. Pivec, Franci, (2009), “Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer – utemeljiteljica izobraževanja za trajnostni razvoj”, in Journal of Innovative Business and Management, vol. 1, no 1, Maribor, DOBA, <> (last accessed 22 Jan. 2018)
  3. Kornhauser, F. Aleksandra, interviewed by Tatjana Pirc (11.12.2011), Val202 [Nedeljski gost: Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer], <> (last accessed 10 Jan. 2018)
  4. Honda Foundation <> (last accessed 10 Jan. 2018)
  5. Zavrl, Ž. Danica, (2016), “Dan je vreden toliko, kolikor ustvariš”, in Gorenjski glas, Kranj, <–kolikor-ustvaris-> (last accessed 22 Jan. 2018).


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