Seventeen students of a two-year Master’s programme International Development Studies – GLODEP had their graduation ceremony at the Faculty of Science Assembly Hall. This joint master programme is provided by the Palacký University Olomouc in cooperation with foreign universities.
„I consider getting a Master’s degree as a significant step in my life. The possibility of sharing with others the situation in my country regarding democracy was also important to me. I want to return to my previous employment as a disaster preparedness officer, where I was responsible for prevention, conducting analyses and disaster assessment in the office of the Prime Minister of Uganda. I want to use my newly acquired knowledge. In case it fails, I will look for other options based on my previous experience to improve my job position,“ said Raymond Kirungi from Uganda.
The GLODEP study programme offers the opportunity to study at three European universities that implement programmes regarding development studies and development economics. In addition to Palacký University there is also the University of Clermont Auvergne in France and University of Pavia in Italy. The aim of this programme is to prepare students for work in the area of development policies, therefore other non-European universities are also involved in the cooperation.
Romina Palacios from Ecuador will look for job in an international organization or non-profit organization (NGO). „At GLODEP we have learned many quantitative techniques that are important in order to monitor and analyse development programs. I would like to work in the field of human rights, good governance or democracy or the environment. I will search all over the world and I want to choose the best offer.“
Professor Jean Francois Brun and professor Maria Sassi from partner universities in France and Italy also took part in the graduation ceremony of the International Development Studies at the Faculty of Science. They were also present at final state examinations and at diploma theses defences.
„We are glad that we could welcome these esteemed guests in Olomouc. Their speeches and anthems of both countries were heard at the graduation ceremony. Since almost all students were from distant places, such as Bhutan, Pakistan, Uganda and other countries, it was difficult to invite the closest family. Nevertheless, this moment was very important for all students,“ said Miroslav Syrovátka, director of a consortium of three universities from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, FS UP.
Martin Golec from the Department of History at the Palacký University Olomouc Faculty of Arts, Petr Zajíček from the Cave Administration of the Czech Republic, and Ivo Světlík from the Nuclear Physics Institute at the Czech Academy of Sciences have announced a unique discovery. They have determined that Catherine’s Cave in the Moravian Karst contains the oldest cave drawing in the Czech Republic. The origin of the geometrical patterns, made by charcoal on the walls, was determined by radiocarbon dating to be more than six thousand years-old.
There are more than one thousand caves in the Moravian Karst, and five of them contain numerous relics, especially signatures of people who used to enter the caves from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. These caves have been the object of interest for a team of scientists in their research of cave drawings supported by the UP Internal Grant Agency.
“I have been studying the Moravian Karst since 2007, and the signatures of people, mostly tourists, who visited the caves, start in the eighteenth century. However, in Catherine’s Cave, we found among them a group of lines that differed. Our suspicion that they originate from a different era was confirmed by radiocarbon analysis,” said Martin Golec from the Department of History. The analysis revealed that the drawings located in Catherine’s Cave are the oldest in the Czech Republic. They were created in the Early Neolithic age, 6200 years ago.
“Carbon-14 dating with low-mass samples is a great contribution for archaeologists. Ivo Světlík from the Nuclear Physics Institute significantly helped our discovery by enhancing the method of taking cave drawing samples. The samples gathered on a piece of cotton wool soaked with a special solution were cautiously prepared for measurements in a special device and sent to Debrecen, Hungary, for final measurements. The loss of radioactive carbon can be used to measure the period when the work was created. The new method of extraction damages the drawings to a minimal extent, which is very important in terms of their protection,” the UP archaeologist added.
The meaning of the paintings, however, remains unclear. Their location deep in dark recesses, on prominent protrusions and crevices, may be explained as a way of marking the place where spiritual rituals related to higher entities occurred. Martin Golec rejects the idea that they might have been made by a person who was idling with a piece of charcoal. He believes that their author saw something deeper behind every structure of the pattern; however today’s science simply cannot decode their meaning.
This unparalleled discovery will become part of a Bachelor’s thesis by Lucie Minaříková, whose adviser is Martin Golec. The data will be subsequently published in various journals; scientists hope to publish their extraordinary findings in the prestigious British journal Radio Carbon.
“It is beyond belief. Every year, up to 70 thousand visitors visit Catherine’s Cave. Generations of scientists and tourists have been passing by these six-thousand-year-old paintings without taking any notice,” the UP archaeologist added.
Palacký University Olomouc has been included in the international QS World University Ranking for the fourth time. In the 16th year of the rankings, UP placed between the 601st and 650th position, achieving its best result so far. The Czech Republic is represented in the rankings by nine universities; seven of them are in the top 800. The best Czech school is Charles University in Prague (291st place). The rankings include 1000 universities from 82 countries.
Palacký University appeared for the first time in the prestigious rankings in the 2017 edition within the 651st to 700th positions. It occupied the same place last year, however its position has improved.
“I am very pleased for having stepped up again in such prestigious rankings. The results have once again confirmed that Palacký University is still among the five most successful universities in the country and that the gradual adjustment of the system of assessment at our university, which allows to analyse in detail the individual performance indicators of our activity, has brought visible results. At the same this score has been proof of the tireless and diligent work of our academic and non-academic workers, to whom we owe our thanks,” said Rector Jaroslav Miller.
QS World University Rankings evaluate universities according to six metrics. The assessed areas include the global reputation among academics and employers, the number of published academic citations per faculty member, the student-to-faculty ratio, the international faculty ratio, and the international student ratio. In the criterion of Proportion of International Faculty, Olomouc’s university is number one in Czechia. In comparison to the previous year, it has also improved in the indicators of Faculty/Student Ratio (78 positions) and International Students Ratio.
“During the last year, in order to further develop the system of quality assessment, we have introduced systemic international and national benchmarking, which helps us find out in which factors influencing our performance and quality in all activities our university still has reserves in comparison with the international ones, and which areas require systemic work to enable us to enhance our performance. That has been shown for example in the improved parameters of regional collaboration, collaboration with international and national partners, and in a proposal for improving performance indicators in the educational and creative activities of academic employees. We expect that the results of these analyses will become evident in the coming years, and Palacký University Olomouc will thus maintain its positions in international rankings,” said Hana Marešová, Vice-Rector for Strategic Planning and Quality Control.
The Czech Republic as a whole has also improved its score compared to the previous year. While last year’s rankings included five Czech universities, their number has almost doubled this year. In this year's national comparison, Palacký University is ranked fifth behind Charles University, the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Czech Technical University in Prague, and Masaryk University in Brno. The Brno University of Technology and the Technical University of Liberec were also included in the TOP 800.
QS World University Rankings 2019QS World University Rankings 2020Charles University in Prague313291University of Chemistry and Technology Prague-355Czech Technical University in Prague531–540498Masaryk University571–580551–600Palacký University Olomouc651–700601–650Brno University of Technology651–700651–700Technical University of Liberec-751–800Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague-801–1000University of Ostrava801–1000
The global academic arena has been dominated, for the eighth time in row, by MIT, followed by Stanford University and Harvard University. The complete rankings results are available here. The international QS World University Rankings® are considered the most prestigious international university rankings along with the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Shanghai Rankings.
About one hundred students in all age groups from various countries are coming to Palacký University Olomouc to study Czech. They will cultivate their Czech language skills from July 20 to August 18 during the Summer School of Slavonic Studies (SSSS), organised by the UP Faculty of Arts.
The preparations for the 33rd year of the Summer School of Slavonic Studies are in full throttle, and according to Pavla Poláchová, the SSSS director; around one hundred students have confirmed their attendance. “The number is not final yet, because they can apply until June 30,” she explained.
Perhaps the oldest student this year will be a seventy-three-year-old lady from the U.S., while the youngest, a nineteen-year-old, is coming from China. The applicants include students from Europe, Japan, China, Vietnam, and also Azerbaijan, Taiwan, Columbia, and Argentina. Germany is the country with the most students coming.
Whereas the previous years the took place in the UP Arts Centre, this year’s intense courses in Czech and afternoon lectures, seminars, and workshops will be held in the renovated premises of the Faculty of Arts.
“Students will have at their disposal classrooms with modern equipment, quiet study rooms, a relaxation zone connected to the gardens at the city ramparts walls, and the new university bistro. One of the novelties this year is the collaboration with student clubs which allowed us to offer a bike tour of Olomouc sights, theatre and movement workshops with the theatres Nabalkoně and Divadlo na cucky, and a workshop on Czech poetry,” said Poláchová.
The one hundred foreign students will be taught Czech by Faculty of Arts teachers as well as external teachers who are usually alumni of the faculty. “This year, we have Czech teachers who have been teaching Czech during the school year in London, Dijon, Bucharest, and Vienna; one Czech teacher will even arrive from Taiwan,” added Poláchová.
In addition to classes and an accompanying educational programme, SSSS participants will also attend the Faculty of Arts film club, a traditional folklore night with hammer dulcimer music, an abundance of leisure time sport activities, and weekend field trips to other Moravian towns.
“During the summer school, students will not only learn the language, but also Czech culture and lifestyle in general. Dozens of them are fond of regularly coming back, because although it involves studying, it is a for them a pleasant way of spending their summer in the Czech Republic, in a beautiful town where they both improve their Czech and make new friends,” said Poláchová. More information is available HERE.
Some species of centipedes seem to actively spend a considerable part of their lives not on dry land, but underwater, where they have interesting opportunities for hunting. This has been revealed through surprising observations of speleologists, who found the Lithobius matulici centipede species deep in flooded caves. Experts from the UP Faculty of Science participated in the findings.
The testimonies of cave divers, which may radically change the way zoologists classify centipedes as terrestrial creatures, is a key part of a new study by experts from the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Loránd Eötvös University in Budapest, and the Department of Ecology and Environment at the Palacký University Olomouc Faculty of Science. The results of the study focusing on centipedes were published in the journal ZooKeys.
Centipedes have been living on the Earth for more than 420 million years. Zoologists usually consider them soil organisms, since most of their species inhabit the upper layers of the soil or live under stones and dead wood and in leaf litter. According to previous observations, centipedes prefer to avoid water. There are exceptions to the rule, such as species living in flood areas and able to survive underwater for several days in a state of stupor; however, they flee when a big flood comes. “Only some jungle centipedes are able to swim and hide at the bottom of a creek when disturbed. Also, about 3 percent of soil centipedes (genus Geophilomorpha) live on the rocky seaside in the intertidal zone, where they search for food during low tide and hide in shelters during high tide,” said one of the co-authors of the article, Ivan Hadrián Tuf.
Hungarian speleologists, however, have observed centipedes in the Vjetrenica cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina – which is permanently flooded – and managed to capture and document some of them, to the zoologists’ joy. “One of the divers took a centipede underwater, put it in the cuff of his neoprene suit, and spent another two hours underwater with it. He remembered having it only a long time after having emerged, so he took a picture of it on the ground – and the centipede ran away. Obviously, if he were a zoologist, he would have immediately emerged in awe and ecstasy, and seek other specimens,” laughed Tuf.
Zoologists determined that the centipede found underwater belonged to the Lithobius matulici genus. Approximately at the same time, speleologists in other flooded caves obtained video recordings of the centipedes’ weird behaviour. “Because we got hold of several centipedes from this cave, we decided to accompany their description with a report about their diving. The interesting thing is that they are representatives of an old order of the most common centipedes, which have never been seen to go underwater,” Tuf pointed out.
The circumstances of the discovery suggest that these cave species are able to remain underwater for a very long time. Divers encountered them deep in the cave, and there were no air bubbles in their proximity. The centipedes, according to Tuf, probably discovered how to stay underwater over a long period of time in the same way as millipedes. Some of their species dive in caves and feed on algae growth. Unlike millipedes, centipedes are primarily predators who stalk their prey. Diving in caves may be quite advantageous for these centipedes, because in addition to small terrestrial invertebrates, they can hunt crustaceans in the water.
“Unfortunately, these cave populations of predatory centipedes are substantially lower than the populations of millipedes. We need to catch more specimens to be able to analyse the contents of their stomachs or to breed them in a lab,” noted Tuf, who knows this will not be an easy task. “In a diving suit, these small centipedes are really hard to catch,” he added, with a smile.
Lithobius matulici inhabits caves in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is completely blind, weakly pigmented, and has markedly elongated antennae and hind legs. In addition to being adapted to living in caves, it can also actively seek food in the flooded parts of the caves.
A fundamental cell in fast quantum Internet could be the controlled teleportation of quantum bits, which has been proven experimentally for the first time anywhere in the world by experts from the Joint Laboratory of Optics of Palacký University Olomouc and the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Thanks to the controlled transmission of a quantum state, the flow of information in communications networks could be significantly increased, even over large distances. The results of the research of the Olomouc team of experts have been published the journal Physical Review Letters.
Scientists at the Joint Laboratory explored the controlled transmission of a quantum state, and finally confirmed it under laboratory conditions. “Our experiment opens the possibility of quantum communication networks working on the principle of changes in quantum states. Thanks to this, we could make use of all the advantages which quantum physics offers us in the communication networks of the future,” said Karel Lemr.
The basis of the unique experiment was the controlled teleportation of quantum bits (“qubits”) as the information carriers. Prior to this, quantum teleportation had only been carried out between two users. One of them sends quantum information to the other and the second receives it, during which the content is unable to be influenced. Olomouc scientists chose teleportation in a group of three users out of whom a random one decides whether the teleportation of the quantum state – and thus the information between the two remaining users – would or would not be carried out. The random user has the role of the controller in the group.
“Thus a kind of elemental triangle of users was created, between whom there was controlled quantum teleportation, whose random apex could be replaced by the apex of another similar triangle. It could be imagined as the basic cell of a new type of communication network. If this method were to be extended further, an entire system based on the teleportation of a quantum state could be gradually chained into the form of something which in the future could be called quantum Internet,” Lemr explained.
The work of the Olomouc scientists could also significantly contribute to the development and practical use of quantum cryptography, metrology, and the construction of quantum computers. “The quality of encryption in quantum cryptography is guaranteed by natural physical laws. It is not established solely on trusting that an attacker would not have enough computational ability to break the encryption. Quantum metrology is also much more precise than standard measuring methods, and a quantum computer would speed up several computational operations,” remarked the scientist.
In the public’s mind, quantum teleportation still has an air of mystery and is surrounded by various myths. “Quantum teleportation certainly is not a means of transporting objects through the universe like on Star Trek. It is no supernatural magic skill. It is the transference of the essence of a certain object which in physics we call a quantum state, from one place to another, without it being necessary to transfer the object itself,” added Lemr.
The theoretical idea of teleportation of a quantum state came from their Polish colleague, Artur Barasiński. “We adjusted it in order to make it experimentally possible. The construction of the experiment itself did not take so long, because it was based on our previous multiphoton experiments,” said Antonín Černoch of the Joint Laboratory of Optics. The project was supported by two grants from the Czech Science Foundation and one grant from the Excellence in Research Operational Programme in Research, Development and Education.
Pranav Sahu, a scientist from the Olomouc branch of the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences was awarded in India for his research into plants and their reactions to climate change. His work was awarded second place at a symposium of the European Molecular Biology Organization, which took place on 15-17 April 2019 in Delhi.
The conference, attended by approximately 150 scientists from all over the world, was aimed at sharing the newest findings in research into abiotic stress and its impact on plants. Pranav Sahu, working in the Centre of Structural and Functional Plant Genomics of the Institute of Experimental Botany, part of the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, is delighted about the award. What pleases him even more is that his research will be directly reflected in practice, as well as the fact that he had the opportunity to deliver a lecture on his research specifically in India. “I come from India, and I considered it important to provide information on the results of my research here, since India is also already suffering from climate change: the average temperature has been rising and there has been a greater risk of droughts and floods. I am glad that our study has aroused interest and I hope it will inspire other colleagues.”
Pranav Sahu’s work focuses on thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) and its growth under simulated conditions, reflecting possible climate changes in Europe and Northern Africa between 2020 and 2050. There are no similar data available so far. The head of the work group where Pranav Sahu works, Aleš Pečinka, emphasises that this information is very important and will help us prepare for the upcoming climate change efficiently and in time. “We are glad that our results will serve scientists as well as breeders. Some interesting and unexpected results have already occurred. For instance, the existing data indicates that the higher concentration of CO2 may result in plants growing better and more quickly in Europe in 2050 compared to the current situation. Our analyses, however, also demonstrate that the key aspect will be their irrigation. It will be necessary to breed plants economically in terms of water and capable of enduring droughts. Farmers will need to start using other strains, and we will have to learn how to manage water in nature more efficiently in general,” said Aleš Pečinka from the Olomouc laboratory of the Institute of Experimental Botany.
In contrast, North Africa will face an entirely different and much more difficult situation, as plants will not prosper there due to drought and heat. Apart from these findings, Olomouc scientists succeeded in identifying certain genes determining specific features and qualities of plants: “One of them is for instance the pigment contents – i.e. the colour agents able to bond free radicals and thus positively influence our health. Our research confirms that some pigments can protect even the plants themselves,” explains Sahu.
The research shall be finished next year, but according to Pečinka, there are new challenges already awaiting the scientists: “For example, we want to find out how some particular species of cereal crops will do in the future, and we would also like to allow the plants to grow under more varied conditions.” Sahu adds that without the facilities and equipment available to him in the Czech Republic, he would not be able to implement his research. “In Olomouc, I have everything I need to work very efficiently and achieve results I deem important because they are related to food security assurance. My research would also not be possible without the utilisation of the special growth chambers at the Global Change Research Institute in Brno. I would therefore like to thank all of my colleagues and the heads of both the institutes under the auspices of Czech Academy of Sciences,” said Sahu.
Mathias Beller, an expert on chemical catalysis and organic/organometallic chemistry from the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, University of Rostock, spoke about the key role of catalysis in sustainable development as part of the latest Rudolf Zahradník Lecture Series. He explained the principle of catalytic processes and outlined how they can contribute to, e.g. a higher quality of life on earth, ensuring a sufficient supply of food, garnering cleaner energy, and developing new materials.
“Catalysis takes place everywhere, all around us. It’s a way to control and make chemical processes faster, making production faster, cheaper, and more environmental friendly. It’s one of the fundamental ways to sustainable development on Earth,” said Prof Beller, who focuses on catalytic processes, high pressure chemistry, and synthesis of biologically active agents. The major goal of the institute he manages is to transfer research results into industrial practice. “Our institute investigates about 40 projects per year in collaboration with companies from all around the world. I personally focus on, in addition to industrial applications of catalysis, the synergy of catalytic systems and the use of less precious metals for catalysis,” added Beller.
The highly acclaimed chemist appreciated the work of the UP Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) scientists published in cooperation with Italian colleagues from the University of Trieste in the journal Advanced Materials. The paper reports on a unique method that can accelerate diverse chemical reactions, for example, in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. “It’s an interesting paper that opens up a number of possibilities in the field. Catalysis is a major issue, arousing worldwide interest,” said Beller, also a most highly-cited researcher.
His visit to Olomouc and primarily to RCPTM will lead to further collaboration, as he disclosed. “In Olomouc, you can develop new materials and we have extensive experience with catalytic applications, which seems to be a very good platform for collaboration,” said Beller.
Prof Beller has obtained an advanced ERC grant, and been awarded various honorary doctorates and other prizes including a Dr Karl Wamsler Innovation Award. He repeatedly appears in the Highly Cited Researchers list, with an H-index of 124, and more than 1000 publications, many in the most prestigious journals, such as Science, Nature, Nature Chemistry, and Nature Catalysis.
The Rudolf Zahradník Lecture Series is named after Rudolf Zahradník, former chairman of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, a pioneer on Czech quantum chemistry, and founding member of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic. Since its start in 2013, the most significant personalities in chemical and materials research have given talks in their fields. The series is presided over by Radek Zbořil, RCPTM General Director.
Water and Civilization is an exhibition featuring photographs dedicated to water and its cardinal importance for sustaining life on Earth. The exhibition was launched on May 2 and continues until May 28 on Kampa Island in Prague. The major goal of the event is to raise awareness of water as a strategic material that we, along with next generations, must protect and cherish. The UP Regional Centre of Advanced Technology and Materials (RCPTM) was among the 16 institutions, both domestic and foreign, which made a contribution to the exhibition.
Jan Filip, Michal Otyepka, and Radek Zbořil participated in putting it together. According to them, nanomaterials and water are closely intertwined and their interaction is older than mankind. Key reactions leading to the emergence of life on Earth may have taken place on the surface of metal oxide or sulphide nanoparticles. Nanoparticles occur naturally in water and that could account for how they get into organisms.
“In a modern society, nanoparticles can be used for water remediation. Owing to their size and large specific surface area, nanoparticles can effectively interact with dissolved contaminants, chemically degrading and adsorbing them. Their small size enables them to migrate in groundwater, which enhances their efficiency. Some of the photographs also illustrates the use of nanoparticles for groundwater remediation. Contamination of groundwater is a specific problem since the pollution is not as clearly visible as it is on the surface, which requires employing different methods. We particularly focus on this area at RCPTM within a project funded by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TAČR), Competence Centre. We have obtained a patent for the technology producing such nanoparticles,” said Jan Filip, one of the authors of the accompanying texts.
The other RCPTM display boards present water as an essential chemical compound occurring in different chemical states, which illustrates the importance of water for life, particularly for humans, the existence of new types of contaminants, and employment of nanomaterials while garnering renewable energy resource, e.g. by water splitting.
The curator and co-author of the exhibition is the Egyptologist Miroslav Bárta, who expressed his appreciation for RCPTM’s participation in the project. “RCPTM ranks among the most significant research centres in the country. Its broad significance is reflected in the centre’s long-term scientific results, publications, and educating a new generation of scientists. Therefore, the contribution to the exhibition, which has been the first to open on an international scale, is crucial. The display boards clearly and effectively explain the properties of water and its importance for life on Earth,” he said.
The exhibition contains numerous artistic photographs as well as illustrative images with accompanying texts. The visitors can, for instance, see photos of the oldest irrigation channels in Israel or the harsh impact of plastic on sea creatures. Photographs taken by the Czech geographer and hydrologist Bohumír Jánský, who together with his team located the origin of the Amazon River in 1999, will also draw visitors’ interest. Visitors will also have the chance to see historic images as well, for example an engraving of Charles Bridge from the end of the 18th century, which shows the accumulation of large packs of floating ice during floods. Photographs of another catastrophic flood in Prague (2002) are also on display. Last but not least, the American Scripps Institution of Oceanography is presenting its latest research results there. Visitors can view the outdoor part of the exhibition 24 hours a day, until May 28.
A great success was achieved by Tomáš Jirsa from the Palacký University Faculty of Arts. As an editor, he participated together with Ernst van Alphen from Leiden University in the publication of a collective monograph, How to Do Things with Affects: Affective Triggers in Aesthetic Forms and Cultural Practices. The book was recently published by Brill, a prestigious international publishing house.
Work on the book took more than two years, and authors included such personalities as the literary critic and founder of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, Mieke Bal (University of Amsterdam), film theoretician Eugenie Brinkema (MIT), philosopher Jan Slaby (Frei Universität), and other globally renowned experts.
“In addition to working with internationally respected personalities whose work has significantly formed my way of thinking and teaching – which was a dream come true – it was also a splendid experience to see how things work at a professional academic publishing house where you do not have to pay for the publication of your book; on the contrary, the company takes care of the most effective promotion and distribution. And last but not least, I am thrilled how gratefully and constructively such big academic stars as Mieke Bal responded to my editing of their texts,” said Jirsa.
How to Do Things with Affects presents affect as a highly productive concept for both interdisciplinary cultural analysis and the detailed reading of aesthetic forms. In a novelty way, it shifts the focus from the human interiority of personal emotions and subjective feelings toward affective operations that form cultural objects and impact various social arrangements, political events and media strategies. The book examines how affects operate in modernist literary works, contemporary visual arts, horror and documentary films, political newscasts, museum displays, and animated pornography.
“Thanks to thorough case studies and overlaps in media philosophy, literary and film theory, visual studies and anthropology, this monograph represents not only an inspirational interdisciplinary dialogue, but also offers a number of specific methodological impulses necessary for the study of cultural, media, and social processes,” explained the book’s co-editor, Ernst van Alphen.
The publication has also commenced new collaboration between Palacký and the University of Amsterdam, whose institute, the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), invited Tomáš Jirsa to a research stay in the spring. Thus he will be enabled to work on a UP junior grant “Between Affects and Technology: The Portrait in the Visual Arts, Literature and Music Video“, also participated in by Daniel Nemrava from the UP Department of Romance Studies, and Martin Mazanec, the programme director of the PAF festival in Olomouc and teacher at the Faculty Of Fine Arts at the Brno University of Technology. One of the goals of this mission is the importance of the educational strategies of cultural analysis and their consequent cultivation in a designed interdisciplinary study programme at the UP Faculty of Arts. The research stay is also supported by the Jan Hus Foundation Stipend.
More information concerning the book can be found HERE.
(Olomouc) – A unique method that can accelerate diverse chemical reactions, for example, in food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, has been developed by scientists from the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) of Palacký University in Olomouc, in cooperation with Italian colleagues from the University of Trieste. The novel accelerators of the reactions (catalysts) are single atoms of metals firmly anchored to a carbon material based on a graphene platform. These atoms can speed up numerous reactions, with uncompromised efficiency even after repeated use. The arrangement increases the catalysts' efficiency, reducing both amounts needed and production costs. The work has been recently published in the prestigious Advanced Materials journal, one of the world's top three materials science journals.
Catalytic reactions occur all around us, including in the human body. Solid metal catalysts are used not only in cars, where they reduce amounts of pollutants in exhaust gases, but also in the industrial production of hydrogen, ammonia, sulfuric acid, nitric acid and many other substances. Solid-state metal catalysts are very popular in industrial processes because they can be easily separated from the production mixture and reused. However, they are usually less effective than soluble (liquid-phase) catalysts, largely because smaller numbers of atoms are in contact with the reaction mixture. Thus, the Czech and Italian team of scientists has intensively sought ways to produce highly effective solid-state catalysts in which all metal atoms are accessible to chemicals involved in targeted reactions.
“We took a chemically modified form of graphene, a two-dimensional carbon material, and attached functional groups that provide convenient chemical links for robustly bonding metal atoms. In this way, we chemically anchored individual copper atoms to the surface of graphene and found they had unprecedented efficiency for catalyzing the chemical reactions used for production of important pharmaceutical substances," said Radek Zbořil, the director of RCPTM and originator of the whole concept.
With the development of nanotechnologies and decrease in size of metal catalysts, their efficiency has increased dramatically, as nanomaterials generally have larger numbers of atoms on their surfaces and can thus more easily affect chemical reactions. “Finding a universal technology that can anchor and utilize individual atoms enables us to exploit the advantages of both soluble and insoluble (solid-state) catalysts, which was previously impossible. In this case, all the atoms are involved in the catalytic process, achieving full atomic-level economy. Thus, lower amounts of the catalyst are required. Moreover, such single metal atoms strongly bound to graphene exhibit extraordinary efficiency, which remains after recycling of the catalyst,” added Zbořil.
Strong anchoring individual atoms for catalytic purposes has been an attractive, but unfeasible “pipe dream”, until recently. "Most of the approaches previously developed do not provide sufficiently strong anchoring, eventually resulting in the catalytic atoms' release during the reactions or recycling. The technology developed in Olomouc has unique ability to firmly anchor a wide range of individual atoms in sufficient quantities and even control their oxidation state. Thus, the new catalysts offer a wide spectrum of applications,” said Paolo Fornasiero from the University of Trieste, who has a wealth of experience in developing and applying new types of catalysts.
According to Aristides Bakandritsos from RCPTM, preparation of the catalytic material does not require demanding synthetic conditions. "Chemical bonding of atoms takes place at room temperature. The starting material for producing the graphene substrate is graphite fluoride, an industrial lubricant available in tons, so upscaling the technology should be relatively straightforward. Importantly, we can firmly anchor other single metal atoms, such as gold, platinum, iron, cobalt or nickel, to graphene. We already have promising results, for example, in electrocatalytic reactions enabling production of alternative energy sources. Here, we exploit a combination of excellent graphene conductivity and high efficiency of the anchored single metal catalysts," he revealed.
Recent advances in graphene chemistry in RCPTM laboratories have led to the development of a number of new materials and other unique technologies, including preparation of carbon-based magnets, two-dimensional carboxylic acid, highly efficient oil sorbents and one of the smallest metallic magnets.
Radek Zbořil / General Director
Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials
78371 Olomouc, Czech Republic
Phone: (+420) 775 733 378
A. Bakandritsos, R. G. Kadam, P. Kumar, G. Zoppellaro, M. Medveď, J. Tuček, T. Montini, O. Tomanec, P. Andrýsková, B. Drahoš, R. S. Varma, M. Otyepka, M. B. Gawande, P. Fornasiero, and R. Zbořil, "Mixed-Valence Single-Atom Catalyst Derived from Functionalized Graphene," ADVANCED MATERIALS, vol. 31, iss. 17, 2019.
J. Tuček, K. Holá, A. B. Bourlinos, P. Blonski, A. Bakandritsos, J. Ugolotti, M. Dubecký, F. Karlický, V. Ranc, K. Čépe, M. Otyepka, and R. Zbořil, "Room Temperature Organic Magnets Derived from sp3 Functionalized Graphene," NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, vol. 8, 2017.
J. Tuček, Z. Sofer, D. Bouša, M. Pumera, K. Holá, A. Malá, K. Poláková, M. Havrdová, K. Čépe, O. Tomanec, and R. Zbořil, "Air-stable Superparamagnetic Metal Nanoparticles Entrapped in Graphene Oxide Matrix," NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, vol. 7, 2016.
A. Bakandritsos, M. Pykal, P. Blonski, P. Jakubec, D. D. Chronopoulos, K. Poláková, V. Georgakilas, K. Čépe, O. Tomanec, V. Ranc, A. B. Bourlinos, R. Zbořil, and M. Otyepka, "Cyanographene and Graphene Acid: Emerging Derivatives Enabling High-Yield and Selective Functionalization of Graphene," ACS NANO, vol. 11, iss. 3, pp. 2982-2991, 2017.
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The Department of Development and Environmental Studies of the UP Faculty of Science and the Université Hassan II de Casablanca have successfully developed mutual cooperation. After study visits of Czech students in Casablanca, the Dean Abdellatif Komat and Prof Fouzi Mourji of the Moroccan university visited the Faculty of Science in Olomouc. The cooperation is supported by the Erasmus + KA107 program.
“This is my first time in the Czech Republic and I really like it here. People are open-minded, in the same way as we try to be. We used to work a lot with Western Europe, but currently we have been focusing on cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe,” Dean Abdellatif Komat said. “We want to give our students the best education possible, so that they will be able to better integrate into the job market after completion of their studies,” added Prof Fouzi Mourji. “This is my second year teaching already at the UP Faculty of Science and my experience with Czech students has been very positive.”
Faculty Dean Martin Kubala and Vice-Dean for International Relations Miloslav Dušek welcomed the guests from Morocco. “During our meeting our guests presented their university, we were informed about the cooperation with the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, and possible future cooperation with the Departments of Ecology and Informatics,” Miloslav Dušek said.
As part of their stay, Abdellatif Komat and Fouzi Mourji also visited the Department of Applied Economics at the Faculty of Arts, the Sluňákov Environmental Education Centre, and toured Olomouc’s historical town centre. “Our guests are very interested in environmental issues because it is an important subject for Morocco. They want to strengthen education in that field. Students who studied at the Faculty of Science last year devoted their diploma theses to this topic, too,” added Simona Šafaříková, from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies.
Seven Moroccan students have already studied at this faculty, and currently there are three Moroccan students at UP.
Palacký University has been listed in the 101st to 200th positions in the new international Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2019. These global performance tables assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and also measure institutions’ social and economic impact.
Together with the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Palacký University has achieved the best result among the listed Czech universities, with the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, and VSB – Technical University of Ostrava at the 301st+ positions. The first edition of the rankings includes 450 universities from 76 countries.
UP Rector Jaroslav Miller considers the placement of UP in the THE international rankings with the focus on social responsibility and principles of sustainable development to be a big success. “Our university has proven to be one of the global pioneers who consciously support the goals of sustainable development by means of education as well as research, one that advocates the principles of collaboration with regional partners and the support of solutions in contemporary society. A number of our activities attest to that. One of them is the Civil University, which offers educational and counselling services to the greater public free of charge, by means of UP teacher and student volunteers,” said Rector Miller.UP Placement in Czech RepublicRankUniversity
Source: UP Strategy and Quality Control Office
In order to place in the overall rankings, the competing universities had to score in four out of eleven areas or goals. The overall score was based on the three best results. Olomouc’s university achieved them in Industry, innovation, and infrastructure (101st–200th), Sustainable cities and communities (93rd), and Climate action (101st–200th). One of the prerequisites for inclusion in the rankings was also evaluation in the category Partnerships for the goals, where UP also occupied within the 101st–200th positions. The rankings also provide evaluations of universities’ performance in each goal. Palacký University placed in all eight areas in which it has submitted data.
Palacký University’s placement in individual areasSGDRank3
Good health and well-being101–2004
Decent work and economic growth101–2009
Industry, innovation, and infrastructure101–20010
Sustainable cities and communities9312
Responsible consumption and production-13
Peace, justice and strong institutions101–20017
Partnerships for the goals101–200
Source: UP Strategy and Quality Control Office
“The importance of social responsibility is defined for universities by their fundamental task, that is, bringing up the future generation that should carry on with the values of social responsibility.. At the same time, this relatively high placement of our university in the new global rankings by THE has demonstrated that even our daily internal processes and principles are set up in such a way that we as an organisation behave ethically during the realisation of our activities and contribute to sustainable growth. The evaluated indicators by THE have also proven the effectiveness of our efforts to push for the improvement of UP employees’ and our local partners’ lives, as well as improvement of the society as a whole, and they are a clear sign that the quality control system at UP has been adjusted in the right direction,” said Hana Marešová, UP Vice-Rector for Strategic Planning and Quality Control.
The list is led by the New Zealand’s University of Auckland, followed by Canada’s McMaster University and the University of British Columbia. Japan is the most-represented nation in the table with 41 institutions, followed by the US with 31 and Russia with 30. The rankings are available here.