News from UP

Flag from the frontlines: a gift for the Faculty of Law for its help to Ukraine

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 26/01/2023 - 14:00

The UP Faculty of Law received a special token of gratitude. The commander of the tank battalion of the 128th Transcarpathian Brigade presented the faculty a Ukrainian national flag with a personal dedication and thanks for the faculty’s material assistance to Ukrainian civilians and soldiers. The flag was brought from the centre of Bakhmut, where fierce fighting continues, by Vasyl Kapustey, a law student who has been helping his native Ukraine since the beginning of the war.

A material collection took place at the law faculty in November 2022, with the bulk of it heading to Bakhmut in the northern Donetsk region in mid-December. “Our original plan was to give material aid to refugees in western Ukraine. But the soldiers came with an offer – to take us directly to Bakhmut with all the items. When we arrived there, the humanitarian aid warehouse was completely empty. The things we brought – a generator, clothes, hygienic items, food – were distributed and gone in no time,” said Kapustey during his meeting with the dean of the faculty, Václav Stehlík.

He spread the yellow and blue flag out in the Dean’s Office and explained its origin. “The 128th Transcarpathian Brigade has these flags made in the city of Dnipro. Then they raise them in liberated villages and towns.” Commander Andriy Bazyuk added a personal thank you note to the flag for the Olomouc Faculty of Law. “I helped him write it in Czech,” Kapustey admitted, adding that Lieutenant Colonel Bazyuk also has a personal connection to Olomouc, having once worked here.

“It is a great honour for us to receive this flag from the battle line. I am not afraid to say that this is a historic moment for the faculty. We will not raise it, however, so that it does not get damaged. We will certainly find a dignified place for it,” said Dean Stehlík. He assured Kapustey that the academic community would not stop observing the events in Ukraine and that the faculty was ready to continue helping.

The meeting was also attended by Naděžda Šišková, head of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the UP Faculty of Law, who is personally involved in helping Ukraine, and Alla Fedorova, an academic from the UP’s partner institution, the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, who is now working at the UP Faculty of Law. “We can be proud of our students such as Vasyl who are so helping, so brave, and always ready to go to the frontline. I perceive the flag as a symbol that each of us can contribute to help Ukraine," said Šišková. She noted that the centre she heads is now preparing an online conference at Shevchenko University to mark the one-year anniversary since Ukraine received its EU candidate status.

Student Kapustey has been helping Ukraine since the early days of the war. On the Znesnáze21 platform, he set up a fundraiser to support the 128th Transcarpathian Brigade, and now the 24th Lviv Brigade has been added. And it is a very successful fundraiser. In less than a year, they have managed to raise almost €320,000 from thousands of donors. Kapustey is going to bring more aid and equipment to soldiers and civilians in Ukraine in mid-February. “We would like to visit Bakhmut again, but according to the latest news, this will probably not be possible. We will see what we can do. I am in contact with Commander Bazyuk on a daily basis.” Kapustey’s parents are helping him with his activities in support of Ukraine, as well as his law school classmate Andrej Poleščuk.

Categories: News from UP

Nursing students from Nebraska visited the Health Sciences faculty, hospital, and met Ukrainian colleagues

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 25/01/2023 - 08:00

The UP Faculty of Health Sciences hosted US students from Nebraska in January. The students of nursing visited Olomouc for a rich three-week programme including classes, excursions, and internships, prepared jointly by the faculty and University Hospital Olomouc.

During January, six nursing students from UP’s partner institution, the University of Nebraska-Kearney, gathered knowledge and experience in both medical and non-medical disciplines. “Colleagues from the Department of Nursing, the Department of Midwifery, and the Department of Clinical Rehabilitation provided classes for the students in the faculty premises. Many thanks also go to colleagues from Olomouc University Hospital, who organised the programme in the hospital and were willing to take care of the students during their regular work hours,” emphasised Renáta Váverková, the deputy head of the Department of Nursing.

During their busy schedule, the Nebraska students visited the Department of Anaesthesiology, Resuscitation and Intensive Care, the Department of Surgery I, the the Rehabilitation Ward, the Emergency Ward, the Department of Hemato-Oncology, the PICC team at the Department of Cardiac Surgery, the Medical Nutrition Ward, the Department of Internal Medicine I – Cardiology, the Department of Nuclear Medicine, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The students also appreciated the opportunity to learn about the pneumatic tube mail system. They highly appreciated the approach of the University Hospital Olomouc staff and the quality of the equipment at the workplaces.

“This is my first visit to Europe, and I’m very happy that I could get to know the Czech Republic because my family comes from Wilber, Nebraska, the “Czech capital” of the United States. It was so nice here, everyone took great care of us, everyone was so hospitable. The classes and excursions were very useful for us. I’m in my second year and I haven’t had the opportunity to work with patients yet, so I appreciated the opportunity to see the daily operations of your hospital. I think the Emergency Ward made the biggest impression on me. I was also very impressed with the Physiotherapy and Midwifery departments and with the overall care and approach to patients here,” said student Morgan Bice.

“The implementation of the programme was quite a challenge for us, so I’m very glad that the visit of the foreign students to our faculty went smoothly. I believe that the collaboration between the universities will continue and that we will be able to welcome even more students next year. I would like to thank my colleagues Petra Kašparová and Irena Jedličková for their seamless preparations,” said Váverková.

During their stay, the guests from Nebraska also met students from Ukraine at the UP American Center and debated with them (see more here).

“I believe that this stay will lead to a successful cooperation in education as well as science and research. The first step was to start talks on the possibility of establishing a joint study programme in Healthcare Organisation and Management. I would like to thank my colleagues from the Faculty of Arts, who have been cooperating with the University of Kearney for a long time and helped to facilitate this stay,” said Jiří Vévoda, the dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, in conclusion.

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School of Archaeometry will focus on collaboration of scientists, historians, archaeologists

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 23/01/2023 - 13:00

The aim of the second year of the School of Archaeometry, which will take place in Fort Science on 2–3 February , is to connect the sciences and humanities. The interdisciplinary meeting of scientists is organised by the Departments of Analytical Chemistry and Geology, the Olomouc Archaeological Centre, the National Heritage Institute, and Fort Science.

“Nowadays, archaeologists, art historians and similarly oriented experts are discovering that cooperation with the natural sciences is quite beneficial and can take their knowledge a step further. On the other hand, representatives of the natural sciences are realising that having the opportunity to analyse various unique objects is also advantageous, whether for the development of new methods and/or for publication opportunities,” said Lukáš Kučera from the Department of Analytical Chemistry.

Over 80 registered participants can choose from four interesting sections on the first day of the School of Archaeometry: Technological Survey 1, Technological Survey 2, Anthropology, and Isotope Analysis. There are lectures focusing, for example, on the possibilities and limits of radiocarbon dating in archaeology, on modern methods for archeometric analysis, parasitology, enamel technology and its analysis, on the analysis of ancient slag materials, and new developments in molecular spectroscopy and microscopy.

“The Department of Geology is very happy to participate in the organisation of this event. The School is a prime example of a joint search for interesting research topics, methods and interpretations among chemists, geologists, and archaeologists. We share plenty of common ground. That includes, for example, the study of materials, the reconstruction of old production techniques, the storage of archaeological objects underground, and their search techniques. We try not to be idle in geology, so we invest in geophysical equipment, our students write on geoarchaeological topics for their final theses, we cooperate with companies, and direct projects: most recently, for example, the Czech Science Foundation project ‘Reconstruction of Upper Palaeolithic mobility through provenience study of radiolarite artefacts’ under the supervision of Martin Moník. There are certainly many reasons to look forward to this meeting,” said Ondřej Bábek, Head of the Department of Geology.

On the second day, the programme will include lectures on specific research directions in the field of archaeometry. “Experts will discuss, for example, light isotopes in skeletal material, the veracity of dated archaeological contexts in Moravia, and petrographic analysis of building stones and binding materials from the Church of St Moritz in Olomouc. At the end, visitors can take part in a stone splitting workshop,” added Kučera.

Categories: News from UP

US experts: Academia needs to take international security seriously

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 19/01/2023 - 15:10

International academic cooperation as a potential security risk? U.S. experts Glenn Tiffert and Kevin Gamache came to Olomouc to present their experience and best practices in combating these threats. They held a two-hour lecture organised by the Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law (CIHOL) at the UP Faculty of Law.

 “Members of the Department of International and European Law as well as CIHOL members have long been involved in security issues. The lecture aimed to open the topic of foreign influence operations in universities and the practical and societal implications of foreign interference that can threaten national security,” explained Petr Stejskal on behalf of the organisers; he works at the Department of International and European Law at the UP Faculty of Law and is a member of CIHOL.

The lecture was organised by the faculty in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic, the Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats at the Czech Ministry of the Interior, and Charles University in Prague. “Thanks to this cooperation, we were able to invite to Olomouc top experts on counter-influence issues from the United States – Kevin Gamache, director of the US association Academic Security and Counter Exploitation Program, and Glenn Tiffert, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a specialist in the political and legal history of the People’s Republic of China,” said Stejskal.

 “China and the US are each other’s greatest research partners, with Germany and the UK coming in second and third for both countries,” Tiffert said in his lecture. “But China is not Germany or Canada – you can’t have the same approach because China doesn’t respect the same rules and rights,” Tiffert explained. As one specific example, he cited the case of “CRISPR babies”, where Chinese scientist He Jiankui used unapproved gene scissors to edit the human genome. “He acted against ethical rules. He was first hailed as a hero in China but then came a worldwide wave of criticism. This case shows that the rules that apply in America or Europe cannot be expected to be followed in China, motivated by a desire to be the best and the first country.”

In his study of Chinese history, Tiffert employs his knowledge of the construction of the modern Chinese court system and the judiciary and combines it with the computational methods of data science. At the Hoover Institution, he co-chairs the China’s Global Sharp Power project and works closely with government and civil society partners to document and build resilience against authoritarian interference in democratic institutions.

Kevin Gamache explained to participants why is it necessary for a research institution to have a security programme. “The world has changed. Over the last twenty years, the opportunities for collaboration have grown, but the geopolitical environment has also changed. We need to better understand and verify who we are working with. We should always ask these questions: Do I know who we are really working with? Who is funding this? What is the potential risk to the institution, even at the level of reputation? How can we mitigate potential risks?”

Then he introduced more in detail the Academic Security and Counter Exploitation Program (ASCE), where he is a director. “Our goal is to raise security awareness in academia. When we started in 2006, there were ten of us; today over 200 universities are involved. And I’m very happy that we’re meeting here today because we cannot solve this issue on our own, we need to work together internationally.” He went on to describe how ASCE uses the expertise of its member universities to help address potential threats posed by foreign adversaries to US academic institutions.

The lecture was attended not only by university students and academic staff, but also representatives of the Czech Army and government institutions. “I believe we have shown that this is a very sensitive and urgent issue that cannot be downplayed and that also affects Czech academia,” Stejskal said.

He pointed out that the academic sector has some specifics and advantages in many respects, such as its openness and connection to the world. “This can be abused, however, to steal sensitive technologies or to influence events in a country. The lecture presented the mechanisms that are needed at the academic to national levels to minimise these risks while maintaining the openness of the academic sector and international cooperation, two of its key characteristics,” Stejskal added.

The organising institute, the CIHOL centre, was established under the auspices of the Department of International and European Law in 2019, as a result of long-term cooperation between the UP Faculty of Law and the Czech Army. Thanks to the CIHOL activities, the faculty received, among other things, the 2020 National Security Council Award for significant contribution to the security policy of the Czech Republic.

Categories: News from UP

Faculty of Science Biologists search for long-forgotten plants in Borneo

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 19/01/2023 - 10:00

Two biologists from the Faculty of Science will head to Borneo on Saturday to rediscover long-forgotten plant species, having previously found completely new plant species on this Southeast Asian island. The three-year research project, ‘Discovering New Species – Do We Really Not Care? The genus Thismia (Thismiaceae) in Borneo and Sumatra’ was supported by the Czech Science Foundation).

Martin Dančák from the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Faculty of Science will fly to Borneo with his colleague Michal Sochor. “We are going to the island now, because the rainy season, the most suitable period for the occurrence of the plants we are studying, is in January and February. We have selected several species of the genus Thismia which we want to rediscover in Borneo during our expedition. These are plants that were described e.g. in the 19th century, and have not been seen in the wild since. We will go to their original locations, where natural biotopes still exist, so there is a high probability that we can rediscover these supposedly lost plant species,” said Dančák.

The optimism of the scientists is based on the fact that in 2020 they rediscovered the plant Thismia neptunis in Borneo, which had not been seen in the wild for 150 years. “These are the ‘forgotten’ species. Then we will also focus on another group of Thismiaceae, whose existence we know about from photographs, and is evident that these are new and as yet undescribed species. We will try to find, document, and scientifically describe them on the island,” said Dančák. Faculty of Science scientists have previously found in Borneo, for example, the smallest Thismia species and a new species of carnivorous tropical pitcher plant.

If the pair of biologists manage to again find plants in Borneo that were last described more than a hundred years ago, they will examine them in detail. “We plan to make new descriptions, because some go back to the 19th century and are no longer sufficient for today’s standards. We will therefore document the plant in photographs, describe it, and write an article for a professional journal,” said Sochor.

Martin Dančák also pointed out that in recent years and decades, interest in discovering new plant species has dimmed as scientists have focused on more fiscally supported fields, such as applied research or developments in molecular biology. “The discovery of new plant species has become the domain of amateurs rather than professional scientists. However, the grant we received shows that this interesting issue has not been completely neglected and the current scientific community is aware that this kind of research is also important for the further development of our knowledge,” he added.

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Czech Science Foundation supports historians researching the development of commercial education

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 11/01/2023 - 12:00

Did you know that until the mid-19th century, shopkeepers, shop assistants, and accountants usually had a mere grade school education, or general education from gymnasia and secondary schools? That in Austria at that time, they had to learn everything else mainly by practice, i.e. by working directly in a shop or company? So how and when did commercial education start to modernise? This is what historians Ivan Puš from Palacký University Olomouc and Petr Kadlec from the University of Ostrava started to investigate. Their research has been supported by the Czech Science Foundation.

Thanks to the support of the Czech Science Foundation, Kadlec from the Centre for Economic and Social History at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ostrava and Puš from the Department of History, UP Faculty of Arts, have started to conduct international research on the modernisation of commercial education in the western and northern part of Austria-Hungary (the Cisleithania) in the years 1848–1918. This topic has not yet been dealt with comprehensively.

“There are no studies that would include research on the development of commercial education in such a broad time span. One of the contributions of our work will be a comparative analysis of the conditions in individual countries. The Cisleithanian area at that time included a number of regions; we will be looking at Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Lower Austria, including Vienna, and Galicia, which is today partly Poland and partly Ukraine. The aforementioned regions were part of one state in the period under study, but from today’s perspective, the research will have an international scope,” said Puš. He further noted on the importance of the research that at the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, education followed up on the foundations that had been created in the 19th century. “It makes sense to identify them because at the same time, contemporary education is building on what was created after 1918 in many ways,” he added.

According to Puš, while the education of future salesmen, merchants, accountants, and other clerical professions was not institutionalised until the mid-19th century, after 1848, when the first chamber of commerce and trade was established, the state began to realise that the economy in the Czech lands and in Austria (after 1867 Austria-Hungary) needed to be modernised. At that time, the state began to take an interest in how vocational education was being provided, i.e. how the commercial, industrial trade, and agrarian schools operates, as well as trades as such. From the middle of the 19th century onwards, an array of parties began to have a say in commercial education: not only the state, but also municipal councils, merchants, professional associations, various trade councils, provincial assemblies, and later also the schools themselves, including the students’ parents. According to historian Puš, it is important to know the development of commercial education because many of the ideas and challenges that are being discussed today were already present in the debates at that time.

“For example, the perpetual discussion on the lack of tradesmen, craftsmen, and technicians because most parents prefer gymnasia and then universities for their children is age-old. In fact, it dates back to 1859, when the guilds that were emblematic of the old era disappeared. The system of vocational education that had existed for centuries was thus in decline, although a great deal of modernisation had begun. Various commercial guilds and chambers of commerce were established. Even before 1848, there were critical opinions that rich bourgeois families were sending their children to gymnasia, which were useless; even at that time, people claimed that this would lead to a lack of workers in workshops, factories, and modern plants. However, it is worth noting that we are talking about the late 19th century, so this is the pre-war era, in which university graduates made up one to two percent of society. However, even graduation from a commercial school and then a commercial academy was considered prestigious at that time,” emphasised the UP historian.

The three-year research entitled Modernisation of Commercial Education in Cisleithania in the Years 1848–1918: Manifestations, Trends, Mechanisms was supported by the Czech Science Foundation with allocated €125,000, for the period 2023–2025. Main investigator: Petr Kadlec, Ph.D., University of Ostrava; co-investigator: Mgr. Ivan Puš, Ph.D., Palacký University Olomouc.

Although we tend to ask similar questions today, education has evolved in this respect.

“We have evolved in that we have built a modern structure, a system with an order. We have three-year vocational schools and four-year commercial schools and industrial schools. Long into the second half of the 19th century, there were only summer and winter courses, Sunday schools, afternoon and evening schools, and various follow-up schools in various regions as part of primary education. It was much later when commercial day schools, commercial academies and higher commercial education became established. Most of their graduates took various clerical positions in companies, local administration and state government. Therefore, one of our goals is to capture the transformation of the education of modern clerical staff, an inconspicuous but increasingly important element in the economy and the administration of states, municipalities, and countries. Three-year schools, generally day schools, gradually began to be established only by the second half of the 19th century, and the process lasted half a century. We will be researching how society transformed in the second half of the 19th century in this regard,” said Puš. He and his colleague Kadlec will be looking for information of Austrian-wide significance in the archival sources of this region, both in the chambers of commerce and trade and the collections of school boards. They will also carry out research in the materials of individual schools, conducting partial probes into some schools, such as the Export Academy in Vienna. In addition to annual expert studies (likely in English), the research will result in a monograph.

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New UP Code of Ethics focuses on work and teaching activities, as well as questions of abuse of power

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 10/01/2023 - 08:00

As of January 2023, Palacký University has a new, revised Code of Ethics. It concerns the work and teaching activities of academic and scientific employees at UP as well as student activities. The proposed Code of Ethics revision has been in the works for almost two years and was also examined in detail through multiple rounds of public discussion in the academic community and at multiple meetings of the UP Academic Senate. Head of the Rector's Office Martin Tomášek, one of the authors of the new code, explains in this interview how the code came about, what changes it contains, and what to expect from it.

What were the reasons for the changes in the UP Code of Ethics?

There were several immediate reasons, but the main one was that we tried to implement the principles established in the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers into our own Code. Additionally, the need arose to make several rules more precise – ones which the UP Ethics Commission found problematic in practice. There was also pressure to elaborate some of the rules, or define them more specifically in the sense of proper research work: reporting results, the roles of the “corresponding author” and the main author, and their ethical responsibilities.

What are the basic changes found in the new Code?

One of the central themes was narrowing the extent of the situations which it should regulate. It is necessary to determine which relations fall under the Code of Ethics. For example, whether to regulate a personal disagreement between two technical-economic employees, which in no way influences teaching or work activities. Or whether it should regulate the behaviour of employees outside their work activities, for example on holiday, when such conduct has nothing to do with one’s relationship to UP.

We, the group working on recodification, decided that it would be appropriate if the UP Code of Ethics was really concerned only with matters related to persons involved in work or teaching activities or influencing such activities. The committee does not and cannot take the place of those persons who are authorised at UP for deciding labour-related matters from the employer’s legal position.

What bearing does the new Code of Ethics have, for example, upon relations towards students?

Basically, I think that we were able to significantly widen the scope when it comes to questions dealing with abuse of power, sexual harassment, and abuse of station.

Do changes in the new Code of Ethics address even the composition of the university Ethics Commission?

From the organisational perspective, it is necessary to point out that the new Code of Ethics extends the UP Ethics Commission by one member, nominated by the CATRIN institute. The proposal for nominating this member was given to the rector by the director of this university institute on the basis of a proposal from the institute’s scientific board.

Were there any themes which were discussed but did not make it into the final form of the Code of Ethics?

There was a rather lengthy debate in relation to an amendment dealing with religion and its possible entry into work or teaching activities. The proposed amendment was changed several times, but in the end, there was no decision made because the text did not have the support of the vast majority of those who commented on it. With respect to the reality that the Code of Ethics should in principle encompass a widely shared notion of what is ethical or moral, this clause was not included.

Is there anything not resolved in the amendments which still needs to be addressed in that area?

Yes, we still need to amend the UP Ethics Committee Rules of Procedure; respectively, prepare for their transformation into the UP Ethics Committee Statute. In addition to amending its rules of procedure, we should generally define its status, its acceptance and handling of requests, and also the relationship of the Ethics Committee to UP divisions which deal with (un)ethical conduct, such as the UP Faculty of Science Ethics Committee. During the next few weeks, we plan to call a meeting of a work committee on that.

Should the close of work on the Rules of Procedure and the UP Ethics Committee bring about a settlement of relations in this area, and make possible proper discussion of ethical cases which are also the subject of negotiations by UP organs?

Yes, but only partially. It is necessary to keep in mind that the Code of Ethics and proceedings by the Ethics Committee deal with questions of ethics. Any wrongdoing on the ethical level should lead to Committee proceedings which would merely state that wrongdoing. It will create a definite source of information as to how a UP employee or student should behave if they do not want to come into conflict with the Code of Ethics. The result should be a clear communication on what not to do on the ethical level, on how not to misbehave on the moral level. Generally, it should introduce a sort of moral condemnation which is in line with the UP Code of Ethics.

On a completely different level, it is necessary to resolve cases when an employee behaves in a way which conflicts with the responsibility coming from legal requirements related to carrying out their job. Then it is up to the appropriate organ of the employer – usually the dean, institute director, or rector – to deal with this conflict in a timely fashion; if possible, in cooperation with the employee’s supervisor, or personnel office, or the legal department. This is the only way to effectively react to a conflict of legal responsibilities. The idea that violating legal responsibilities can be resolved legally by the UP Ethics Committee is a common misapprehension, which unfortunately can lead to unintended and sometimes unwanted fallout for the university.

The same can be said about disciplinary actions which can also apply to UP students if they intentionally violate the responsibilities stated in the legal stipulations or internal rules of the university and its components. If there are actions taken against a student, the results of which are legally relevant, then it is necessary to conduct disciplinary actions, not make a case before the UP Ethics Committee.

The full text of the new amendments to the Code of Ethics for Employees and Students of Palacký University Olomouc.

Categories: News from UP

Kutya, carols, prayer: Students from Ukraine celebrated Christmas at the uni

News: Faculty of Science - Sat, 07/01/2023 - 09:00

In these days, Ukraine is celebrating the Christmas holidays and the arrival of the New Year. It is a time of coming together, so Palacký University Olomouc made it possible for those Ukrainian students and staff who did not get home to visit their loved ones to meet each other and stay together on the university campus.

In his opening speech, UP Rector Martin Procházka welcomed all the Ukrainian students. “I wish you a Happy New Year, may you prosper in your lives and may the year 2023 bring peace to your country,” said the rector. He has been meeting regularly with Ukrainian students since the war started and is interested in how university management can make their stay in Olomouc easier. “If you need anything, we are here and ready to help you,” emphasised Procházka.

That is why Alena Vyskočilová, the head of the UP Welcome Office, also attended the meeting and presented the work of the centre to the students, informing them about the services it provides, from basic information about the university and the city to administrative assistance when dealing with visas. The students thanked the university for the opportunity to study in Olomouc and for all the support the school provides them.

A festive atmosphere was present in the Rector’s Canteen during the afternoon, where the university representatives prepared a small Christmas party for the Ukrainian students and staff. Fifty students gladly accepted the invitation.

“Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the UP Volunteering Centre has focused their efforts to help Ukrainian students and academics, and as our Christmas approached, we thought about how to allow those who are staying in Olomouc over the holidays to celebrate their Ukrainian Christmas as well. Eventually, we came up with this event, so we’re very happy that they really came together and celebrated their holidays in a joyful atmosphere as a community,” said Vladimíra Sedláčková, a coordinator at the UP Volunteering Centre, which organised the gathering together with the Ukrainian Studies section of the Department of Slavonic Studies at the UP Faculty of Arts and the UP Communications Office, and thanks to the support of university management.

“According to the tradition in Ukraine, there should be twelve dishes on the Christmas Eve table, but this was not feasible for us. However, we tried to combine Czech and Ukrainian cuisine, and in addition to borscht, our guests could enjoy sweet pancakes and potato pancakes, which our cuisines have in common. One student also brought kutya, a traditional Ukrainian sweet porridge made of boiled groats mixed with ground poppy seeds, raisins, honey, and walnuts. This dish is not to be missed on the Ukrainian Christmas Eve table, so we were very happy to be able to serve it,” said Radana Merzová from Ukrainian Studies section. She added that she was surprised by the number of students who came to the canteen for the gathering.

The festive meeting, however, was not only about food and conversation. The guests prayed for peace in their homeland and for its defenders, and also sang Ukrainian carols under the baton of Olena Salnikova, an art school director who fled the war to Olomouc with her son and began studying art studies at the UP Faculty of Arts.

Once again, the students thanked Rector Procházka for all the help and support they receive from the university. “It is a natural thing to do, we have to help each other in times of need. We want you to feel as good as possible here and to have the best memories from your stay at Palacký University Olomouc,” replied the rector to the words of thanks. Jiří Stavovčík, Vice-Rector for Internationalisation, also came to greet the students and wish them a Merry Christmas.

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Thanks to a Junior Star project, Bruno de la Torre will start his own experimental group

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 06/01/2023 - 08:00

Bruno de la Torre from CATRIN won a JUNIOR STAR grant for outstanding early career scientists from the Czech Science Foundation. The 14.7 million Czech koruna awarded to Bruno will allow him to establish an experimental research group focused on the interdisciplinary area of molecular electronics. Over the coming five years, his group will investigate the laws governing charge mobility in light-harvesting molecular nanomodels.

“The proposed research aims to determine the basic electronic and structural properties of a new class of ‘molecular components’ and evaluate their potential to serve as prototypes of molecular devices. This work will have a fundamental scientific impact because it will involve characterizing conjugated molecular systems at a sub-angstrom spatial resolution and studies on charge transfer at the single-electron level,” said Bruno de la Torre, who was on the team of scientists that made the world’s first observations of the inhomogeneous distribution of electronic charge around a halogen atom – a so-called sigma hole. Their results were published in the journal Science. 

The new project, which is called ‘Atomic-Scale Control and Visualization of Charge Delocalization in Light-Harvesting Molecular Nanomodels’, starting in January, will directly support the development of a new laboratory, enable research in the highly interdisciplinary field of molecular electronics, and facilitate collaboration in the field of organic semiconductors. It will also benefit PhD students and undergraduate students at Palacký University.

JUNIOR STAR grants are intended to support outstanding young scientists within 8 years of receiving their Ph.D. who have published in prestigious international journals and have significant experience at research centres outside the Czech Republic. The grants provide funding for five years, giving winners the opportunity to become scientifically independent and establish their own research groups, thereby expanding the horizons of Czech science. Only a small fraction of the submitted proposals are funded – just 23 were successful last year.

Categories: News from UP

Javorník museum exhibits 3000 year old bronze sword examined by UP Faculty of Science experts

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 04/01/2023 - 15:00

The unique bronze sword, which the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the Faculty of Science was involved in its research, is on display until mid-January in the museum in the building of the former regional court in Javorník. The 3,000-year-old artifact was discovered by a random passer-by near Stará Červená Voda in the Jeseníky region in 2020.

In June 2020, a resident of Stará Červená Voda contacted the staff of the Museum of National History in Jeseník saying that he had found a bronze sword and an axe. Both items date back to approximately 1300 years BCE, i.e. the Bronze Age. The sword was broken. It was examined by experts from several workplaces throughout the Czech Republic.

The Department of Analytical Chemistry was invited to participate shortly after the discovery. “The sword was encased in clay and was not contaminated or damaged in any way, so we were able to take several samples from the microscopic areas. The substances identified showed the presence of cellulose, which means that the sword was probably stored in some kind of plant fiber textile. Otherwise, we did not find any other organic substances, such as the haemoglobin, which would indicate its practical use,” said Lukáš Kučera from the Department of Analytical Chemistry.

The soil samples were also sent for study to the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Telč. They confirmed that the samples taken were consistent with the microscopic particles on the surface of the sword and that the find came from the place of destination.

Once a special display case has been made, the sword and the axe will be relocated to the Water Fortress in Jeseník, where the Jeseník Museum of National History is housed.

Categories: News from UP

Aurora university alliance representatives met in Amsterdam to discuss perspectives on collaboration

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 04/01/2023 - 08:00

At the close of 2022, members of the European university alliance Aurora, of which Palacký University is a member, discussed further possibilities and prospects for cooperation in higher education. The two-day meeting was hosted by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Palacký University was represented at the meeting by Rector Martin Procházka and Selma Porobić, Aurora’s institutional coordinator for UP.

The agenda of the meeting in the Netherlands included several meetings and discussions of representatives of the individual universities and alliance organs. Among other things, the General Council of Rectors discussed the possibilities of further funding of the Alliance and agreed on a proposal to be sent to the European Commission in January as part of the European Universities Call. If accepted, it should ensure the active participation of Palacký University and its partners in the ambitious European university alliances project in the years to come. “I believe that the European Commission will approve the submitted proposal, and thus we will be able to continue the existing cooperation as well as further develop these relationships so that our schools, and especially our students, can benefit from them,” said UP Rector Procházka.

UP Rector added that the active role of Palacký University, which joined Aurora in 2020, was acknowledged and resulted in success in the past year. At the spring meeting of universities in Innsbruck, Palacký University transformed its existing associate membership into full-fledged status and became a member of the global university consortium Aurora Network. This gives UP the opportunity to participate in decision-making and closer collaboration within this university network. The Aurora Network focuses on fulfilling Aurora’s global mission, which extends beyond the borders of Europe and the initiatives of European universities. It is primarily concerned with international aid and cooperation with non-European partners, especially in education and research. (You can find more details about this here.)

The possibilities of connecting the Aurora Network with the EU-funded Aurora Alliance and its application were then discussed separately by the Board of Rectors, Aurora’s top decision-making body, which consists of four selected rectors, including UP’s. “We have agreed that the Aurora Network has great added value as a platform for further cooperation between our universities in research and its evaluation, as well as for global outreach beyond the EU,” added Procházka.    

Categories: News from UP

Student Lukáš Mada thinks so much of others, he won the Křesadlo award

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 27/12/2022 - 06:00

Lukáš Mada, a student of the UP Faculty of Science, was among the eight awarded volunteers who received the 2022 Křesadlo award at the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc. The award from the non-profit organization Malteser International is a symbolic thank you to those who selflessly and devotedly help others.

Lukáš Mada studies Experimental Biology at the Faculty of Science. He also concurrently studies Biology Pedagogy as part of lifelong education studies, and Public Economics and Administration at a distance learning programme at VSB - Technical University of Ostrava. If that were not enough, he works at the Fort Science as a coordinator of popularization programmes.

“I have been volunteering since I started studying at the Faculty of Science. In my first year, I felt a certain emptiness in my free time. There was room for its meaningful use, which is why I found the Olomouc Volunteer Centre JIKA. It’s run by two amazing people I know personally. It has a very friendly family atmosphere,” said the award-winning student.

Among other things, Mada works with seniors from the Protected Housing Service in Zikova Street, with children in the Klokánek (Little Kangaroo) project at homes for women and mothers in Holečkova and Sokolská Streets, he tutors children from disadvantaged families, and spends time at the after-school club at the school for children with hearing disabilities on Kosmonautů Street. “In my life I was very lucky to have been born into the family I was. That I had the background I had. All that shapes one’s personality. I was allowed to develop and be inspired by the people around me, by my whole family. When you see their willingness to invest their free time in us, then you feel a certain debt to society as a whole. That’s the only way to pay it forward,” added Mada.

The Experimental Biology student was awarded a special scholarship by the Dean of the Faculty of Science Martin Kubala. You can listen to an interview in Czech with Lukáš Mada as part of the UP FS podcast on Spotify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: News from UP

A year of celebrations is commencing, when Palacký University will commemorate 450 years of its existence

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 22/12/2022 - 09:00

It’s here: the countdown has begun! A year of celebrations is commencing in which Olomouc’s university, founded on 22 December 1573, will celebrate 450 years of its existence. And this is why today we are launching a special web and revealing the first items of what will be a very rich programme.

The past is connected to the present and the future, that is the leitmotif of the 2023, a year which in Olomouc will belong to Palacký University. “We are commemorating not only the rich history of our university and the important people whose lives have been connected to it. We will also show a lively, contemporary school, fostering a new generation of students who will determine the future development of our society. The story of our alma mater has been ongoing for almost 450 years and it is one which is still pertinent and consequential. We educate, foster, research, and endeavour to push the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding. This is why we have chosen as the motto for our jubilee year the words of František Palacký, after whom our university was renamed: We are only as strong as our spirit,” said UP Rector Martin Procházka.

The jubilee year will offer dozens of the most diverse events. To name but a few: a ball, concerts, an exhibition of historical university insignia, alumni meetings, an excursion to Palacký’s birthplace, book publications, etc. “The programme, which be continuously supplemented, can be found on a web created especially for the 450th anniversary. We are working on it across university faculties and institutions and involving students as well,” said Vice-Rector for Communications and Student Affairs Vít Procházka, who is in charge of organising the celebrations with his team.

The special webpages for the university celebrations can be found at 450.upol.cz.

Categories: News from UP

Holiday greetings from our rector

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 21/12/2022 - 15:40

Dear colleagues and students

As there are but a few days left in the calendar year, allow me to cordially wish you a wonderful Christmas holiday, and much joy and health in the New Year. To all that is lovely at this time of year, we can also add another word, which in its own way is synonymous with Christmas: meeting. That is why I would like to wish you all, in what can be an especially difficult period, time to meet with your friends and family, and share joyful moments together with those who make us feel good. That is the greatest gift of all – to both give and receive.

At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you. Palacký University will celebrate its 450th anniversary in the coming year and the festivities will offer a number of occasions for meeting. They will also be an expression of gratitude for all that you do for the university. That you further its good name, that you help to fulfil its mission in education, academics, science, and society, and that you share a role in its creation. Each of these is important for the present and future of our alma mater and I sincerely thank you for your part in it.

Looking forward to our meeting in 2023.

Martin Procházka, UP Rector

Categories: News from UP

Introducing our new professors

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 19/12/2022 - 13:00

In Prague’s Carolinum, new professors of Czech universities received their appointment decrees from the Czech Minister of Education, Vladimír Balaš. Out of the seventy personalities whose appointments were confirmed by President Miloš Zeman’s signature at the end of November, six are employed at Palacký University Olomouc: Beatrice Mohelníková Duchoňová and David Friedecký from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry; Vilém Pechanec, Ondřej Novák, and Michal Bíla from the Faculty of Science; and Milan Klement from the Faculty of Education.

Marek Otisk from the University of Ostrava, who was nominated by Palacký University, was also appointed a professor. Let us briefly introduce all the newly appointed professors.

 

Beatrice Mohelníková Duchoňová, UP FMD

Beatrice Mohelníková Duchoňová, deputy head for teaching, science and research at the Department of Oncology, UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and University Hospital Olomouc, feels a great responsibility in receiving the professorship. “I firmly believe that I will continue my clinical and research work and will be able to motivate and guide my younger colleagues to further advance the possibilities and our abilities in treatment of oncological diseases,” said the renowned expert on pancreatic cancer, one of the most difficult oncological diseases to treat. However, she also focuses on other types of cancer.

The current highest goal of the newly appointed professor in Oncology is to successfully combine her professional career and raising her two children. “In the coming year, my activities are mainly focused on developing national and international collaborations on the study of risk, predictive and prognostic factors for pancreatic cancer. Our greatest challenges are finding the optimal screening programme to detect pancreatic cancer in its earlier stages and individualising its therapy,” she explained.

Mohelníková Duchoňová is a graduate of the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University, where she later was also board certified in clinical oncology. She worked, among other places, at the Fourth Internal Clinic of General University Hospital in Prague, and since 2011 she has been working at the Department of Oncology at the Palacký University Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and University Hospital Olomouc, where she has managed to build her own research base, which in cooperation with other departments, especially the Department of Surgery I, produces a number of valuable publications every year and also significantly contributes to several grant projects; the project on predictive and prognostic markers of pancreatic cancer was nominated for the Czech Minister of Health Award for Medical Research.

David Friedecký, UP FMD

Newly appointed professor David Friedecký, who has been part of the team of the Laboratory of Metabolic Disorders at the UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and University Hospital Olomouc for over twenty years, also has created his own scientific group full of enthusiastic students. He is involved in teaching not only at the Faculty of Medicine, but also at the Faculty of Science, where he studied Analytical Chemistry and was made associate professor in 2017. His professorship was held in Medicinal Chemistry and Biochemistry at UP FMD.

“We deal with the use of mass spectrometry in medicine, specifically clinical metabolomics and lipidomics. We develop advanced high-throughput methods for effective diagnosis of rare diseases in young children. In Olomouc, we have been conducting newborn screening for more than 10 years, which was made possible thanks to mass spectrometry. Correct statistical methods to analyse data and interpret results are another of my scientific passions, and I try to pass that passion on to my undergraduate students and colleagues,” said Friedecký, who has collaborated internationally with experts in Europe and the US.

For him, acquired professorship is not only a recognition of his many years of work but also a commitment to improving the understanding of science and the knowledge of his students. “In recent years, it has appeared to me that there are more questions than answers. But that is the beauty of scientific research. What makes us advance further is the collaboration with clinical departments, and I believe that in the near future we will be able to apply clinical lipidomics to the diagnosis of diseases such as inflammation and cancer. One of my wishes is to continue building a high-quality multidisciplinary scientific team made up of doctoral students and specialists, which I have been very lucky to engage in recent years. An integral part of this is the popularisation of the field, where we all still have a great deal of work to do,” he added.

 

Vilém Pechanec, UP FS

Another appointed professor, Vilém Pechanec from the Department of Geoinformatics at the UP Faculty of Science, also graduated from UP FS, namely in Environmental Protection and Creation. In his professional and practical work, Pechanec has long focused on the use of geoinformation technology in modelling ecosystem functions of the landscape, especially its water-retention capacity. In his research he combines data generated by field observations, sensor measurements, and non-contact monitoring via satellite systems. He is the author or co-author of more than 250 domestic and international articles, book chapters, and conference papers, as well as several datasets for the Czech Republic, specialised maps and software solutions, five certified methodologies, and three utility models.

He is a long-term member of the Board of the Czech Association for Geoinformation and a member of the Czech Society for Landscape Ecology. He represents UP in the National Secretariat of Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme. He is a member of the Scholarly Board of the UP FS and the Doctoral Programme Boards at UP FS and the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology at Mendel University in Brno. He has been a supervisor of more than 28 successful graduates of Bachelor’s studies, 35 Master’s studies, and 6 doctoral graduates; he is a member of examination committees in Geoinformatics and Applied Ecology at several departments in the Czech Republic.

“Being appointed a professor is such a great honour. I take it as a recognition of the work of our entire workgroup. Obtaining the professorship is a great commitment for the years to come. I want to be able to apply the acquired knowledge and experience to an even greater extent, especially for the benefit of my alma mater department. I want to continue my scientific and research work at the department, keep enhancing its reputation in the professional community, and continue to actively participate in the education of students in both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes,” said Pechanec.

 

Ondřej Novák, UP FS

On the proposal of the Scientific Board of the Mendel University in Brno, another personality of the UP Faculty of Science, Ondřej Novák, was appointed professor. He is an expert in the analysis of plant hormones and was included in the 2022 list of the world’s Highly Cited Researchers (more here).

“My professional life has been closely related to Olomouc and the UP Faculty of Science since its beginning. First as an inexperienced student, later as a young postdoctoral fellow, and today the head of a great scientific team. Based on the technologies developed at our university, we have managed to integrate into the European network of laboratories studying various aspects of phytohormonal research. In the last decade, interdisciplinary collaborations with developmental biologists, biochemists, and plant physiologists from prominent European biological centres have been promoted,” he said, looking back on his career.

Novák graduated from UP FS and specialises in the biosynthesis and metabolism of plant hormones using modern mass spectrometry. He also studies the relationships between the chemical structure and biological activity of plant hormones. He has long been involved in the use of cutting-edge bioanalytical methods and simplification of extraction methods for the isolation of biologically active substances from complex biological matrices.

Michal Bíl, UP FS

The third new professor employed at the UP Faculty of Science is Michal Bíl, from the Department of Geology. He was appointed on the proposal of the Scientific Board of the University of Ostrava, in the field of Environmental Geography. Bíl studied Geography at Masaryk University in Brno, and worked at the Czech Geological Survey and the UP FS Department of Geoinformatics. Since 2009, he has been working at the Transport Research Centre, where he deals with the relationship between the natural environment and transport, and develops methods to assess the impact of natural extremes on transport infrastructure. He also works on mitigating the conflict between wildlife and traffic.

He has authored or co-authored more than 50 publications listed on WOS. As part of his research, he has initiated the establishment of several unique spatial databases, e.g. CHILDA, RUPOK, SRAZENAZVER. He is a co-author of globally distributed geographic analysis tools (e.g. KDE+, ROCA) used to detect weak points in transport infrastructure. During his career, he has worked closely with the UP Department of Applied Mathematics to develop network analysis methods applicable to traffic research.

Bíl has supervised final theses of students in the departments of geoinformatics, geography, and development studies, as well as at other universities in the Czech Republic. “As a supervisor and mentor, I have been lucky to have capable and motivated students. Many of them have done well in the academic environment as well as in professional practice. I am delighted that I am still in contact with some of them, working on joint projects.”

 

Milan Klement, UP FE

Milan Klement from the Department of Technical and Information Education at the UP Faculty of Education has become professor on the proposal of the Scientific Board of the University of Hradec Králové, in Information and Communication Technologies in Education. He graduated from the UP FE and then enhanced his education and practical experience during his doctoral studies at the same faculty, where he also was made associate professor. His specialty and expertise were furthered during internships at universities and research institutes in a number of European countries. He has been employed at UP FE since 1999 where he also is the head of the Information Communication Technologies Centre. In 2006–2018 he held the post of Vice-Dean for Information and Educational Technologies. He is a member of the UP Information Technology Committee.

“Obtaining the title professor entails great commitment and responsibility but also joy and gratitude. I would like to thank the University of Hradec Králové for the opportunity to be nominated in the field that has been close to me throughout my professional life and which I consider my life’s mission. I would also like to thank those from whom I had the opportunity to learn, those who shaped me professionally and personally, who accompanied me through my successes and failures. They brought me to deeper knowledge and understanding of the order of things in my field. So I thank my teachers, mentors, advisors, and colleagues. It is my commitment to fully utilise their help, and just as they helped me, I must now help others and pass on what I have learned to my students and younger colleagues with the same selflessness and dedication,” said Klement.

His scientific research focuses on three main areas. The first one is the use of modern information technologies in education, with a particular focus on longitudinal comparisons of their impact on the educational process. Another area is the issue of virtualisation technologies and the possibilities of their use in education. The third main area is distance education by means of e-learning with a special focus on electronic learning materials and their evaluation. Klement is the author or co-author of more than a hundred scientific papers and a successful investigator in more than a dozen major grants and projects.

 

Marek Otisk, University of Ostrava

Marek Otisk from the University of Ostrava, who was appointed professor in Philosophy on the proposal of the UP Scholarly Board, also received his appointment decree in Carolinum. Otisk, who is employed at the Department of Philosophy, Ostrava University Faculty of Arts, has also worked as a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences. He specialises in the history of medieval philosophy, particularly the 10th and 11th centuries. Some of his most important activities are related to the Centre for Research in Medieval Society and Culture – Vivarium at the University of Ostrava. Otisk not only successfully completed his professorship at Palacký University but also was made associate professor here in 2013.

 

“You have gone through a challenging process to the very top of the scientific and educational pyramid. Thanks to your will and determination, you have managed to overcome many professional and personal obstacles on this long journey. I believe that your productive potential has not been exhausted by now; on the contrary, new doors of research and teaching opportunities are opening for you. Both as university professors and as guarantors of study programmes, you will be both pioneers and creators of inevitable structural changes in the educational process. I believe passionately in your ability to take on new challenges, change established practices, and innovate teaching. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you much strength, determination, and success in fulfilling your mission,” said Czech Minister of Education Vladimír Balaš to the new professors during the presentation of their appointment decrees in Prague’s Carolinum.

Categories: News from UP

Jan Stejskal and Martin Elbel receive honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska

News: Faculty of Science - Sun, 18/12/2022 - 11:00

The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) awarded honorary doctorates to academics from the Palacký University Faculty of Arts. Two colleagues from the Department of History, Associate Professors Jan Stejskal (Dean of the Faculty of Arts) and Martin Elbel personally received the degree in honour of their twenty-five years of cooperation with the U.S. university.

The two received the honorary degree at a ceremony at UNK, attended by the newly elected Nebraska Governor, representatives of the University of Nebraska including its alumni, and UP Vice-Rector Jiří Stavovčík.

“An honorary doctorate is the highest honour any academic can receive from their colleagues. There is nothing greater in academia. My colleague Martin Elbel and I both accept it with enormous respect. The University of Nebraska has awarded honorary doctorates to Presidents Roosevelt, Clinton, and Gorbachev. I therefore delivered the ceremonial speech with great esteem and gratitude,” said Stejskal.

The two received the award primarily for the Nebraska Semester Abroad programme, which they have been running for twenty-five years and thanks to which Nebraska students can study at the UP Faculty of Arts Department of History. The programme has now more than seven hundred graduates and has gradually become the basis for further cooperation; both honoured academics also lecture in the programme. 

“Our programme is the oldest existing international study programme at Palacký University. I am very glad that it continues to thrive and that UP Rector Martin Procházka promotes its development. Thanks to this, students from UNK will be able to study at our Faculty of Health Sciences, too, in January, while in March they will arrive at the Faculty of Arts,” said Stejskal.

Doctor honoris causa is an honorary academic title awarded to individuals who have made a significant international contribution to the development of science and culture or the benefit of humanity.

“For me as well as for Associate Professor Elbel, I believe, this honour from the University of Nebraska means a great deal. I think it is also an acknowledgement of all those who have been involved in the programme. At this point, I must also pay tribute to Rector Emeritus Josef Jařab, who opened the path for this collaboration twenty-five years ago. It appears his faith was not misplaced,” added the dean.

Categories: News from UP

Olomouc hosted international forum: a meeting of universities’ representatives

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 06/12/2022 - 15:36

Seventy representatives of universities from EU countries met in Olomouc at the beginning of December. Palacký University hosted a two-day forum on the future of higher education. The aim of the meeting, which was held under the European Universities Initiative, was to exchange the experience of partner schools and discuss how to improve the quality of the participating universities in order to compete internationally.

A stimulating programme of lectures and discussions in the UP Faculty of Law auditorium was launched with opening words by the Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Radka Wildová, and the UP Rector, Martin Procházka. “I would like to thank Palacký University for its role as the organiser of this meeting under the auspices of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union with the aim to strengthen the role of Czech universities within the Aurora European Universities Alliance. The forum has become an opportunity to discuss and share practical knowledge, to network and seek synergies for future cooperation. Contemporary Europe faces many challenges, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to climate change. This conference is further evidence that European countries need to work closely together and build a shared European higher education. In this joint venture across Europe, our universities must play a central role in addressing those challenges by bringing up the next generation of scientists and equipping them with the tools to tackle all societal challenges at the national, European, as well as global level,” said Minister Wildová.

Director of the Brussels-based Association of European Universities Thomas Estermann, University of Innsbruck Rector Tilmann Märk, and University of Rijeka Rector Snježana Prijić-Samaržija spoke about the importance and support of the European University Initiative, about activities related to the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the ambitions and challenges of pioneering European university alliances. Many others, including University of Kharkiv Rector Tetyana Kaganovska, participated in the forum via an online platform. The Czech Republic was represented at the two-day forum by leading representatives of Palacký University Olomouc as well as by representatives of Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, and Czech Technical University in Prague, institutions that are also part of the prestigious international Aurora Alliance.

The participants enthusiastically participated in workshops that formed the main part of the second day’s programme. One of the themes discussed in the interactive museum Fort Science was the current connection of students and academics with entrepreneurs. The University of Iceland, headed by moderator Halldór Jónsson, played an active role at the workshops. During the two days, the foreign guests had the opportunity to experience not only the lecture halls but the whole university town of Olomouc, thanks to a guided city tour and a visit to the Archbishop’s Palace.

“We have met the high demands for the organisation of the European University Forum, and our work on the preparation and execution of the meeting was appreciated by all the participants. I’m very pleased that we have stood up to this challenge, as evidenced by the positive feedback from the representatives of partner universities in the Aurora Alliance, Coimbra Group Universities, and the management of the European University Association. It has also been essential to establish cooperation and exchange of information with other Czech universities involved in other international alliances and to interconnect them with the activities of the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research,” emphasised Michal Malacka, UP Vice-Rector for Strategy and Regional Affairs.

The international forum has been in its way a preparation for the prestigious meeting of European universities, which will be hosted by Palacký University Olomouc under the auspices of the Aurora Alliance in autumn 2023. “The collaboration of universities across Europe and other partners from non-European countries is crucial for the development of our activities aiming for higher internationalisation. I am delighted that Palacký University has managed to strongly support the activities of the European University Association and the joint action of universities associated in university alliances. Our students, scientists, and academics can greatly benefit from this cooperation, bringing new opportunities for their professional growth,” concluded Rector Procházka.

Categories: News from UP

New biostimulant increases crop yields, reduces environmental burden

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 30/11/2022 - 15:00

A highly effective plant growth stimulator has been developed by scientists from the Laboratory of Growth Regulators, a joint workplace of the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Science of Palacký University Olomouc. The biostimulant can increase the yields of agricultural crops and their ability to absorb nutrients supplied by fertilisers from the soil, reducing the burden on the environment. Under licence with a British partner, the new product containing a patented Czech substance called MTU is already being sold to farmers in the UK. It will be available to farmers in other European countries, including the Czech Republic, next year.

The plant growth stimulator MTU, an abbreviation of its chemical name, significantly increases the resistance and yields of agricultural crops, while having a positive impact on the environment. In fact, plants treated with MTU have increased ability to utilise nitrogen fertilisers, which is another reason why they grow faster and produce more. The plants are able to absorb more nutrients from the applied fertiliser into their organs, thus reducing nutrient leaching from the field into the surrounding ecosystem.

“According to our research, the new substance increases the uptake of nitrogen nutrients by up to a quarter, which means that it will probably be possible to apply less of it to the field. For example, in a field trial in Hungary with corn, 15% less nitrogen was used without any yield loss. This is important both for meeting Green Deal objectives and due to the current skyrocketing of fertiliser prices. At present, these are one-year field trials that will need to be further confirmed,” said Jaroslav Nisler of the scientific team that developed the compound ten years ago.

MTU prevents the breakdown of chlorophyll, increasing its content in the leaves. “Treated crops can then better absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, creating more energy-rich substances (sugars) that are used for faster root and stem growth. Plants are then better able to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in it,” said Miroslav Strnad from the Laboratory of Growth Regulators.

Thanks to these properties, MTU mitigates the effects of drought, heat and other adverse conditions on plants. “This is particularly useful nowadays, when growers are more often faced with the consequences of extreme weather events due to global climate change,” adds Nisler. However, the product also stimulates plants in normal field conditions and significantly increases their yield. “For example, in field experiments with wheat in the Czech Republic in 2015-2017, MTU increased the average grain yield by 7 percent,” noted Nisler. Any only a very small amount of the product needs to be used. Half a gram of MTU per hectare in a 200-litre spray solution with water is sufficient.

The exclusive owner of the patents for the new biostimulant is the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, which signed a licence agreement with the British company Intracrop in February of this year. The product is now manufactured in Germany, sold in the UK, and will be on the market in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary from 2023. The plan is to expand future sales to all EU countries, Ukraine, Turkey, Canada, and the USA.

British licensee Intracrop now sells MTU in the product Status, in which the company has combined MTU with a natural biostimulant, pidolic acid, to enhance its effect. “We recommend applying Status in the spring; from our experience, it increases yields in wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower by 5% to 15%. Feedback from UK growers who have used it in this year’s dry spring has been exceptionally positive,” says Mark Palmer, Intracrop director. “We are really excited: we see this biostimulant with such an effective single ingredient as the Holy Grail of the future,” added Palmer.

For its potential environmental benefits in reducing fertilizer use, the new biostimulant MTU won an award in February 2022 in the US Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge, which focuses on innovations in the field of fertilization. The main organisers of the competition are two US government agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Categories: News from UP

Olomouc hosting European Universities Forum

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 29/11/2022 - 15:00

A prestigious meeting of European universities will be hosted by Palacký University Olomouc on Thursday and Friday, 1–2 December 2022. Seventy representatives of universities from various European Union countries have arrived in Olomouc to participate in a forum on the future of higher education. The aim of the two-day meeting, held within the framework of the European Universities Initiative, is to exchange the experiences of partner schools and discuss how to improve the quality of the participating universities in order to compete internationally.

Thursday’s programme will take place at the UP Faculty of Law and will be commenced by the Czech Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Radka Wildová, together with UP Rector Martin Procházka. Subsequently, Thomas Estermann, Director of the Brussels-based Association of European Universities, Tilmann Märk, Rector of the University of Innsbruck, Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Rector of the University of Rijeka, and Tetyana Kaganovska, Rector of the University of Kharkiv, will speak about the importance of and support for the European University Initiative, activities related to the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the ambitions and challenges of pioneering European university alliances.

Subsequent speakers include vice-rectors of three other Czech universities, which, like Palacký University, are part of prestigious international alliances: Pavel Doleček from Charles University in Prague, Břetislav Dančák from Masaryk University in Brno, and Zbyněk Škvor from Czech Technical University. The panel will be moderated by Michal Malacka, UP Vice-Rector for Strategy and Regional Affairs, and Bára Křenek Sobotková, representative of the Czech Liaison Office for Education and Research in Brussels.

Friday’s programme in Fort Science will feature workshops and talks; the discussions will focus on the current state of connecting students and academics with researchers, entrepreneurs, and companies. Halldór Jónsson from the University of Iceland will be one the presenters.

The European Universities Initiative is made up of 41 three-year pilot alliances involving nearly 300 institutions across Europe and more than one thousand affiliated partners. Last year, Palacký University became an associate member of the international Aurora European Universities Alliance, and starting his year it is a full member of the global university consortium Aurora Network and its Aurora Alliance, which is supported by the European Commission.

Categories: News from UP

Unique map application compares old aerial images of Olomouc with its current appearance

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 23/11/2022 - 10:19

The unique web application Olomouc from Above (in Czech: Olomouc z výšky), created at the Department of Geoinformatics of the UP Faculty of Science, allows you to view historical aerial images of Olomouc from different time periods in the last century and compare them with the recent past or the current appearance of the city. Through a pair of aerial photographs taken at different times, it is possible to get an idea of how the city has changed over the decades. The earliest aerial photographs of Olomouc used in the application date back to 1927. The mapping tool, which is available at olomouczvysky.upol.cz, was created as part of a Bachelors thesis under the supervision of Jakub Miřijovský and Rostislav Nétek.

“Historical aerial images in particular are relatively difficult to access by the general public, and no application for the city of Olomouc displays them in a wider time period. Therefore, we decided to offer this interesting opportunity to Internet users to get a bird’s-eye view of the city’s history. The application Olomouc from Above includes a series of all currently known and available aerial images for the Olomouc area, from the oldest imagery in Czechoslovakia (1927) to the latest one in 2021,” said Vojtěch Jabůrek, author of the app.

The map application contains a rich database of aerial images of Olomouc. Selected photographs of the city can be compared thanks to Multiple View technology, which synchronizes the view of a selected part of the city map using two aerial photographs from different periods. Using the intuitive layer selection control, the visitor to the application website first selects a pair of aerial images from different years, which can then be zoomed in, zoomed out, and panned at will. The app thus makes it possible to see how the city’s territory has expanded over time and what changes have taken place. “By comparing the oldest and newest images, which are separated by almost a hundred years, it is possible to clearly identify, for example, the current Neředín district as a separate village completely outside Olomouc,” Jabůrek pointed out.

The compilation of the web application was preceded by practical research work, as it was necessary to find, obtain and then photogrammetrically and geoinformatically process aerial images from several different sources. The earliest aerial photography of Olomouc from 1927 was previously inaccessible to the public. These images were provided to the authors of the application by the City of Olomouc. The second oldest photography (1954) was made available by the Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA). Most of the map layers (1971, 1974, 1978, 1991, 1994) come from the archive of the Military Geographic and Hydrometeorologic Office in Dobruška. The last series of aerial photographs from 2000 to 2021 already uses modern, publicly available mapping services of the Czech Office of Surveying, Mapping and Cadastre.

The web application Olomouc from Above also contains brief historical information about the creation of aerial photography in 1927 and about urban planning in the depicted period. “Although the application was primarily created for experts in photogrammetry and urban planning, it will certainly be appreciated by researchers and amateur enthusiasts interested in the history of Olomouc,” added Jabůrek.

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