Ukrainian students who have enrolled for the first time at Palacký University this semester can apply for a scholarship to support their studies in the Czech Republic in the amount of CZK 11 000 following the conflict in their home country. This scholarship is linked to the measures taken by the Ministry of Education in connection with the armed conflict in Ukraine caused by the invasion of the Russian Federation and is limited in time to the period from September to December 2022. Students can apply for this scholarship until 7 October via a special form on the UP Portal.
“The scholarship may be awarded by the dean of the relevant faculty to a student who has Ukrainian citizenship, is studying in a standard period of study in a bachelor's, master's or doctoral programme, has been granted temporary protection in the Czech Republic and has enrolled in the first year of study in the current academic year,” specified the vice-rector for education, Vít Zouhar.
The scholarship to support studies in the Czech Republic will be paid in the form of a monthly allowance by a cashless transfer to the student's account held by a bank in the Czech Republic in Czech currency, in arrears for the past month. If a student interrupts or terminates his/her studies, the scholarship will be paid in the proportionate corresponding amount.
All the details and conditions are described in the relevant internal standard (in Czech), which is available to students and UP employees after logging in using the traditional university login details. The application for a scholarship to support studies in the Czech Republic in connection with the armed conflict in Ukraine can be filled in on the UP Portal under Electronic forms.
On 20 September, Palacký University opened the American Center Olomouc in its premises on Třída Svobody. The U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic is co-sponsoring its establishment and operation. The American Center will serve students and the general public alike; its mission is to become a place for meeting, studying, and entertainment activities. Similar centres are being established in many places around the world; this is the sixth such centre in the Czech Republic and only the second to be established at a university.
“We greatly appreciate the opportunity to open the American Center in Olomouc, a city with such a rich historical, cultural, and academic tradition. It will serve as an open window to America – in addition to educational and entertainment activities, it will also become a platform for dialogue and exchange of ideas between Americans and Czechs. The centres are not only a testament to our friendship, but also places where common values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights are promoted,” said Christy Agor, Chargé d'Affaires of the US Embassy in the Czech Republic, at the opening ceremony. She also emphasised that support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression is still very much needed.
At the ceremony, UP Rector Martin Procházka said that he considers the opening of the American Center at Palacký University Olomouc a superb achievement. “Our ambition is to maintain and develop our collaboration with universities in the USA, resulting in more opportunities for exchange stays of our students and teachers. We also want to develop joint study programmes that can mutually enrich both parties in the field of education,” he added.
The centre’s services are intended for university students as well as for high school and elementary school students and the general public. The first students and other visitors were able to see the centre during yesterday’s Open House Day. “The American Center will provide an opportunity for current and future university students to experience American culture and learn about opportunities to study overseas. Facilitating the teaching of English will also be an important part of the centre’s activities. Visitors will have access to educational literature and information resources, and the centre will also offer counselling for those interested in studying in the United States,” said Lukáš Merz, the centre’s coordinator.
The centre will also regularly host educational and cultural programmes, including thematic lectures, film screenings, and exhibitions. In October, talks with the Václav Havel Library director Michael Žantovský and with diplomat and educator Martin Palouš are planned. Both men have served as ambassadors of the Czech Republic to the United States. More information on the American Center Olomouc programme can be found at americancenter.upol.cz and Facebook; the centre is open every weekday except Monday.
Dear Students and Colleagues,
We are embarking upon a new academic year, and right from its beginning, it is clear that in the next few months we will have to again tackle several difficult situations concurrently. Among them are the energy crisis, the impacts of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and also Covid, which has already significantly affected teaching over the past two years. I remain however an optimist, and I believe that together we will be able to face these challenges, and that thanks to our combined strengths, we will manage them, and that they will again leave us even stronger and more experienced.
I’m glad that we continue offering a helping hand to Ukrainian students. More Ukrainian students have applied to our faculties this year and it is wonderful that they are part of our university community. We offered help from the onset of the war; I’m so proud of our volunteers, and I’m looking forward to meeting new students at MEET UP, as well as volunteers – several of whom I will be awarding at the celebration.
Our Responsible Palacký initiative also begins a new year. It was founded last year to support preventative steps during the Covid period; the basic tenets of responsible and considerate behaviour remain valid. Especially now, when Covid numbers are increasing again.
Needless to say, Responsible Palacký is now gaining a new dimension, in connection with the energy crisis. I can assure you that university management is doing everything it can to cope with the hike in energy prices. I would, however, like to ask for your help. In order to get over this energy crisis, every individual needs to pitch in. We have prepared a set of recommendations for you which – I fully believe – will serve as inspiration.
Dear students and colleagues, I would like to wish you an academic year full of success, inspirational encounters, and fascinating experiences.
Rector, Palacký University Olomouc
In recent weeks, university management has been intensively working on solutions to the hike in energy prices. In cooperation with other universities, it is engaged in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education and other relevant authorities.
At present, the most important thing is for the state to make clear its strategy on how to ensure energy for universities, or how to support universities to cope with the increase in energy prices. On the basis of this information, the university can then elaborate its internal crisis strategy. At present, Palacký University has its energy costs fixed until the end of the year; nevertheless, it is currently preparing a crisis management plan. In the coming days, the UP Crisis Team will meet to discuss the problem of the expected increase in energy prices.
Despite the forthcoming blanket measures, the help of every individual will be essential to manage the situation – meaning university employees and students alike. To make things easier for you, in the spirit of Responsible Palacký, we are offering you a simple Ten Commandments of Energy Savings. Together, we can do it!The Ten Commandments of Energy Savings, or How to Help the University Through Personal Heroics
1. If you are the last person to leave a room, turn off the lights. – This includes classrooms, corridors, and even WCs. Pay attention as to whether this is a through corridor intended for more people: in the winter, when it gets dark early, the lights may be left on for safety reasons in times of increased movement. At WCs, also pay attention as to whether or not there may be someone still in the stall(s), for the dark and the light switch being at the main doors could pose a slight logistics problem.
2. If you are leaving your workstation for a longer period of time, turn off your computer. – You will not only save energy by it not being on during its “sleep” period, but you are also benefitting by giving it a full rest. Turning off computers completely is not applicable in all circumstances, nor for all colleagues in a workplace; while acting in good faith, you might be accidentally interrupting research into the cosmos.
3. Ventilate regularly, but shortly and effectively. Heating however can be turned down a notch without consequences. – Due to the continuing Covid threat, but also to support general health and fresh air (something especially necessary in offices and when studying), it is not a good idea to stop ventilating in work and study spaces. Nevertheless, best would be to ventilate with fully open windows for a short period of time when entering a room and then closing the windows. Ventilation can of course be repeated several times a day, depending on your needs….
4. If possible, use the stairs instead of the lifts. – Of course, this does not apply in the case of a librarian carrying a ton of books, or for those in wheelchairs. However, if you are physically capable, and your job description and your time allow it, help not only us to save energy, but also help improve your own physical condition.
5. Thoroughly close building doors. – This is not necessary in the case of automatic doors which are operated photovoltaically; however, if you have a handle on your powers, check whether the crack of the door can be minimalised. Especially in the winter months, don’t allow difficultly amassed heat to escape willy-nilly into Olomouc’s chilly streets. Intense discussions held over a transom have long since fallen out of fashion.
6. Close the door to your workplace/office. – The ideal time to do this is not when your colleagues, students, or boss are on their way in. Nevertheless, in offices with doors opening into less-heated corridors, try your best to save every degree of heat, and it is quite likely that the thermostat can be turned down.
7. Do not cover radiators. – One exception would be your wet clothing after a supercell storm. Kitchen towels, curtains, shades, or furniture placed in front of radiators are not only a tragedy because they are unsightly, but mostly because the radiators are then less effective. If the radiators are covered, you will have a decidedly colder office than your colleagues in adjacent offices with uncovered radiators, even with the same thermostat setting.
8. Do not use portable electric heaters nor portable A/C units. – If you have been experiencing long-term temperature discomfort in your office, tell your immediate supervisor. You are allowed to refuse the jumper offered and appeal for a technical building maintenance solution.
9. Substitute the use of university automobiles with more energy-saving means of transportation. – If you are planning a work trip and your health allows it, try substituting the university auto with alternative transportation, such as a train or bus for longer distances, or take a romantic stroll, go by bike, or public local transportation. If you are going on a long journey, send the university a postcard at the end of the week.
10. Keep a positive attitude: warm greetings and a big smile always heat things up!
A cheap, efficient, and recyclable nanomaterial that can not only detect but also remove heavy metals from water—this is an outstanding result of collaboration between scientists from the Czech Advanced Technology and Research Institute (CATRIN) of Palacký University Olomouc, VSB-TUO, and the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) in Barcelona. The researchers used so-called graphene dots derived from the Nobel material graphene for the preparation of a paper detector. A simple test will prove the presence of dangerous heavy metals, especially cadmium and lead, without costly devices in about 30 minutes..
The contamination of wastewater by industrial activities is a burning problem today, with lead and cadmium, alongside mercury, being among the most toxic heavy metals. Their release into the environment causes extensive damage to the aqueous ecosystem and contamination of agricultural crops. In humans, the long-term exposure to these heavy metals may lead to serious failure of organs and vital functions; their carcinogenic effects have also been proven.
“It is very important to have a cheap technology that can detect these highly harmful substances in water even in small amounts and, at the same time, eliminate them effectively. The newly developed material can do both—in the form of a paper sensor it reliably identifies cadmium or lead and then in the form of nanoparticles it removes these metals with record efficiency. This is the direction that modern technologies are now taking. A similar process is being followed in medicine, for example, when one substance, administered to a human body, diagnoses a disease and subsequently treats it,” said one of the authors of the research, Radek Zbořil. The results of the research were published in the journal Small and a patent has already been filed.
The sensor “goes out” after contact with metal
Graphene dots, which Olomouc scientists have studied for many years, are, among other exceptional properties, capable of photoluminescence. This means that they glow when irradiated. It was this property that played an important role in the research.
“We have found that if cadmium or lead is attached to the surface of our sensor, the photoluminescence is extinguished. This enables us to detect the metal, even a very small amount, many times lower than the limits allowed by the European Union for the content of these elements in drinking water,” said the first author David Panáček from CATRIN. The disadvantage of existing technologies used for detection of heavy metals is the need for special and expensive technical equipment along with trained staff. To avoid this complication, scientists have developed a unique paper detector. “The base consists of cheap chromatographic paper, on which we have applied the nanomaterial. Such a detector is extremely cheap and easy to use. After immersing the paper in water, we can tell, with the naked eye, if heavy metals are present or not,” explained Panáček.
The material could be used by industrial companies
Compared to the already available materials, which are also able to discern heavy metals in water, the new material has a number of advantages. The most important one is the ability to not only detect heavy metals in water but also remove them. “The developed material can be reused—it is recyclable. Moreover, it is a carbon material that is non-toxic to the environment and is possible to produce on a large scale. It could be used, for example, in the form of filters to prevent contamination of water by dangerous lead or cadmium,” added another author Michal Otyepka.
The research began about two years ago, when David Panáček visited the Barcelona Institute as part of his PhD studies. He was in the group of Arben Merkoçi, a world-renowned expert in the field of sensors. “We had a clear plan for collaboration right from the beginning. We developed a carbon nanomaterial with the required optical properties to allow detection of heavy metals, and colleagues from Spain helped with testing and optimization. Thanks to this excellent synergy, we have introduced a product that has considerable commercial potential,” added Panáček.
Photoluminescent carbon dots have been studied by CATRIN scientists for several years, and, in the past, they have been shown to be particularly useful in medical diagnostics for measuring temperatures in living cells or for diagnosing lung cancer.
The Long Night of the Sciences in Olomouc, taking place this year on Friday, 30 September, will involve not only smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight, but also a sense of justice. From the afternoon until late in the evening, visitors will be able to visit the workplaces of Palacký University and University Hospital Olomouc, and both enjoy and educate themselves via the 100 interactive events that await them.
Lectures, exhibitions, diverse experiments, creative workshops, guided tours, film screenings, as well as tastings – this is what visitors can look forward to at this year’s Long Night of the Sciences in Olomouc.
“The programme is really rich, looking at the theme of With All the Senses from various angles, so both children and adults will find something to enjoy. All UP faculties are involved in the individual activities, as well as the interactive science museum Fort Science of the UP Faculty of Science, the UP Library, and the Czech Advanced Technology and Research Institute CATRIN from the university campus in Olomouc-Holice. University Hospital Olomouc will allow visitors to take a tour and see some of its premises, usually inaccessible to the public, with their equipment,” said Ondřej Martínek, coordinator of the event from the UP Communications Office.
“In addition to the popular and educational activities, there is also an accompanying programme. For example, a UV workshop by the Olomouc art group Chaos Company will take place in front of Fort Science, including refreshments and music. A huge inflatable model of the Earth will be on display in front of the Faculty of Physical Culture in Neředín. As in previous years, we will also hand out small gifts to visitors at the individual stations, müsli bars, colouring books, and reusable bags for fruits or pastries,” he added.
During the Long Night of the Sciences, visitors will be able to see scientific work in practice and learn and experience something new regarding the five basic human senses (and more!) at a number of places in Olomouc. In order to make transportation easier, the organisers are preparing a special bus line that will run from the centre to the more distant venues in Holice, Neředín, and Nová Ulice throughout the evening.
The Long Night of the Sciences will start on Friday, 30 September at 4 pm, where the first guided tours of University Hospital Olomouc’s departments will take place, and it will run until midnight. A detailed programme is available on the event’s website.
Those who can’t wait can take part in a special national pub quiz on Monday, 26 September at 7pm. “In cooperation with the organisers of the popular Pub Quiz, we have prepared this as a teaser for Friday’s programme, on the same theme – With All the Senses. Those interested can join the quiz for free, and the winners will receive interesting prizes from the universities in their respective cities,” said Martínek. Information how to participate is on Facebook.
The Long Night of the Sciences is a popular science event with the aim to show people that science is not boring; on the contrary, it is a well of interesting facts and fascinating phenomena, and scientists are ordinary people who are devoted to work that benefits each of us. The event was initiated by the European Commission in 2005 and soon gained great popularity in the Czech Republic. Today, two dozen universities and more than forty scientific institutions, science centres, observatories, and other organisations in more than 100 locations across the country are involved. Olomouc’s Long Night of the Sciences regularly attracts up to 6,000 visitors.
I’m turning to you regarding the upcoming meeting of our university’s Academic Senate, scheduled for 21 September, at which I will submit a proposal for a decision regarding the administration and use of moveable and immoveable property in conjunction with running the CATRIN university institute. I am convinced that we can reach a partial agreement on disputes regarding the use of said properties.
The goal of the proposal is to resolve the current unsatisfactory situation and establish rules for the use of assets and property in the future, and thus to practically fulfil a previous decision of the UP Academic Senate. It is also essential to determine responsibility for the use of university property and at the same time rules for its economic use – for the benefit of employees and students alike.
All of us certainly have the feeling that the atmosphere accompanying the development over the past few years at our university is one which is rather uncertain, and today’s economy and energy situation only exacerbates that feeling. I, myself, have the impression that parties at the university are spreading information which evokes the perception that I am not doing my part to preserve academic rights and freedoms, that I am not making possible the proper functioning of teaching, that I am ignoring students’ interests, that I do not respect others’ opinions, nor am I doing my part to strengthen trust within our academic community.
This is not the case. I have been trying to rectify the disputes between the Faculty of Science and the CATRIN university institute ever since the problems were first raised. I am proposing an amicable path toward a solution, working so that they can improve both work and interpersonal relations at our university.
Allow me to remind you that as Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences I was a member of the work group to formulate agreements for the CATRIN university institute. At the end of 2020, we, all the deans at that time, concluded the year with the wish that the new year would bring successfully expanding faculties and a working university institute. This, for a number or reasons – including certain steps of an uncompromising nature – has not yet taken place.
And now we find ourselves in a situation where several colleagues are refusing further attempts at an agreement, and even asking for the dissolution of the university institute. I however believed, and continue to believe, that an agreement is still possible. This is why I do not see any other possibility than submitting this proposal, as a basis to accomplishing necessary agreements. I am submitting this proposal for an agreement to be ratified by the UP Academic Senate at its meeting.
The UP Academic Senate will meet to discuss an updated proposal for a decision, which at the last Senate meeting I withdrew in an attempt to allow finishing working on ideas which would further push this decision into the greatest possible compromise. As I found out, the people capable of compromise are rather those who are using the concerned equipment and premises, those who are impacted directly. I would like to thank them all for their understanding, attitude, and willingness. The greatest level of agreement has been reached at CRH, regarding the use of buildings F2, H1, and the RD2 greenhouse.
At part of RCPTM, specifically at building G, unfortunately only a partial agreement was possible. Regarding the fact that to date the use of many devices has not been agreed upon in writing by both parties, not even partially, the submitted proposal counts on their being transferred to the administration of the Rector’s Office, i.e. onto “neutral territory”. It is necessary to state that an accredited workplace in dispute, “R-LAB”, will remain under the full authority of the Faculty of Science. We have reached agreements on a room exchange whereby the workplace of both parties was combined. An agreement has also been reached on the doctoral students’ room.
Not yet agreed upon are three rooms which are connected with the X-ray photon spectroscopy equipment. For this reason, the affected rooms are being used in tandem. Regarding other equipment, especially that which forms the greater research infrastructure, according to the proposal all the equipment in question would be transferred into the temporary management of the Rector’s Office, so that access in equal portions would be guaranteed to both parties.
Dear colleagues, I want to assure you all that I continue to search for ways of compromise and an amicable solution between the dean of the Faculty of Science and the director of the university institute. I’m saddened that I have not been very successful in this regard to date.
I would also like to assure you that my promise still holds, that if the UP Academic Senate supports my proposal, it will lead to a temporary solution. It will be one to be replaced by another at a time when both parties agree, or by a subsequent agreement which will reflect the attempt and will to reach further compromises.
I believe that the entire procedure described above is in the interest of the university and in compliance with my responsibility, as the highest representative of the institution, to act – and not merely observe. My goal is to reach a situation when we will all be able to devote much more time and energy to the further development of our university and resolve the other weighty problems which it faces at present. My wish is that any disagreements between ourselves in the future will not grow into permanent conflicts, and that we will manage to resolve them humanely and professionally.
I would like to thank all of you who are trying to constructively resolve the situation on the operations of the CATRIN university institute. I have prepared this proposal, upon the request of the UP Academic Senate, with the attempt that all employees can better carry out their work. At the same time, as rector and a university teacher, I do not want to cause any disturbance in the teaching of pre-graduate and doctoral studies. My wish is that all of us at our alma mater will have good, secure work and study conditions, that our work will be enjoyable and meaningful. I believe that this is not a mission impossible.
Rector, Palacký University
The start of the academic year is the perfect opportunity for Olomouc to live up to its reputation as a university town. Therefore, UP has planned the traditional MEET UP 22 event for both its new and existing students. The celebration of the new academic year will start on Tuesday 20 September in the entrancing city wall ramparts garden and courtyard of the Convictorium – the UP Arts Centre.
The open-air stage will feature two stars of this year’s Colours of Ostrava festival, Annet X and The Middle of the Sandwich; the final dance party will be hosted by the masked Zooblasters. The programme includes film screenings and a talk show with one of the most important street artists of today, Chemis. Presentations by local student clubs are also an integral part of the event. Admission is free.
“What students bring to Olomouc is energy, joy, diversity. When they return to school, the town always comes back to life, so it’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate this moment together. We want to welcome them all here and show the newcomers that this really is the best place for their studies. They will be able to familiarise themselves with the activities of our student clubs and will experience the atmosphere of a student town in the beautiful environment of the Baroque Convictorium. This will help them start the winter semester on the right foot,” said Vít Procházka, Vice-Rector for Communication and Student Affairs.
MEET UP 22 starts on Tuesday at 3 pm, with university organisations and student clubs presenting themselves in the ground floor corridor of the Convictorium – the UP Arts Centre. Interactive presentations include a UP Press stand offering visitors the possibility to bind their own notebooks; Sustainable University will hold a swap of clothes, shoes, accessories, and books, while the Confucius Institute will offer passers-by a cup of real Chinese tea. The associations Sustainable Palacký, Ollove, Rozběháme UP (Running UP) and the student representatives of the Arter Film Club will also present their activities and try to attract newcomers.
The music programme at the city wall ramparts garden will start at 4 pm with the Olomouc band The Middle of the Sandwich, a great discovery of this year’s festival Colours of Ostrava. They were featured at this renowned multi-genre music festival thanks to organisers of three other prominent Czech festivals, but above all, were selected for the honour by over six thousand fan votes. Visitors can enter the world of jazz with the HB Band, playing on the occasion of the grand opening of the UP American Center.
An irresistible blend of styles such as Klezmer, synth-Balkan, electro swing, techno, EDM, and drum’n’bass – these are the Zooblasters, from Prague. Their stage presence is spectacular, as they perform in costume and wear animal masks. The audience will also be electrified by the sublime vocals and explosive, contagious energy of Annet X – at this year’s Colours of Ostrava she enchanted the packed Full Moon Stage. In Olomouc, she will be accompanied by Radimo – saxophonist, flute player, and leader of the acclaimed Czech band Champion Sound. The Prague band Manu Destra will send-off with a dance party to conclude the MEET UP 22 musical programme.
As part of the accompanying programme, a selection of the most interesting screenings from Academia Film Olomouc will be shown. In addition to a German film with the eloquent title Baboons – A Really Wild Family, the ninety-minute block also includes an impressive Finnish documentary, The Problem of the Hydra, which deals with the question of how one miniature animal can shatter our ideas about how the world works, and the French film VO (Vehicle Operator) about the introduction of Uber’s autonomous cars. Concurrently, there will be a talk with Chemis, one of the most important street artists of today. Another talk show will focus on nonfungible tokens (NFTs), a phenomenon associated with cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and artworks traded for astronomical amounts. In collaboration with the Street Art Festival, a special limited collection of NFT art will be made available to the public during MEET UP 22.
This year’s MEET UP 22 will also include a small ceremony. Before the HB Band concert, UP Rector Martin Procházka will present the 2022 Volunteer Awards.
A gastro zone for foodies will be located in the Convictorium courtyard. America on Wheels, a fun zone accompanying the opening of the UP American Center, will offer Xbox gaming, virtual reality, and 3D printing.
All events in the MEET UP 22 programme are free of charge.
MEET UP 22 is organised by Palacký University Olomouc in cooperation with the UP American Center and the Street Art Festival NGO. For more information, please see meetup.upol.cz.
Not only plant research and plant biotechnology, but also other continuing global challenges will be addressed at the international scientific conference Green for Good VI, which is organized by the Czech Advanced Technology and Research Institute (CATRIN) of Palacký University together with the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) from 12 to 15 September in Olomouc. Experts from the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, USA, Finland, and other countries will focus on hot issues like climate change, sustainable agriculture, circular economy, or harnessing and storing energy in biological systems. The conference is held under the auspices of the Minister of Science, Research and Innovation Helena Langšádlová.
“We are pleased that, after the covid-19 pandemic, we are able to continue the tradition, which goes back to 2011. The seven conference sections reflect seven key societal challenges. Experts from the particular fields can discuss their latest results and establish new collaborations. Traditionally, one of the important missions of the conference is to enable especially young scientists to meet with world-renowned colleagues in the field,” said Ivo Frébort, a member of the conference’s Scientific Board and Vice-President of the EFB.
The opening lecture will be delivered by Alan Schulman from the University of Helsinki, who currently acts as the President of the European Plant Science Organization (EPSO). His research group uses genetics, genomics, and cell biology to understand the genome dynamics processes. He and colleagues are also studying drought resistance and other sustainability traits in barley and beans. The main lecture will be delivered by Gary Vallad from the University of Florida, who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases common to both vegetables and ornamental plants, with an emphasis on the development and implementation of biological-based disease control strategies.
“As one of the new areas that we will focus the attention on is bioeconomy, we are very pleased to see Martin Greimel—Head of the Centre for Bioeconomy at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna (BOKU), who represents it in the European Bioeconomy University (EBU). We will also welcome Petra Jorasch from the Belgian company Euroseed, a promoter of modern plant breeding methods and innovative technologies,” said Michaela Holecová from CATRIN on behalf of the organizers.
Participants will also commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the founder of genetics, Gregor Johann Mendel. A painting dedicated to the founder of genetics as well as other works of art inspired by natural sciences will be exhibited by Jitka Brůnová Lachmann during the conference.
The Green for Good VI conference will take place in the building of the UP Faculty of Law. The programme is available at https://www.efbiotechnology.org/G4G/programme. The conference used to be held in Olomouc every two years, but, due to the covid-19 pandemic, the last season was in 2019.
The Department of Psychology at the UP Faculty of Arts has been collaborating on a unique research project to develop a methodology for researching the impact of extreme isolation and confinement on the human psyche, team dynamics, team communication, and related physiological processes. This fascinating research has been carried out thanks to the partnership of several universities and the support of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic.
The quarry in Jesenné in the Semily region was recently transformed into one large research centre for seven days. As part of the Diana III mission, scientists began to investigate the possibilities of human survival in the extreme conditions of long-duration spaceflight. The scenario of the Diana III mission and its scientific content will loosely replicate the Artemis mission, i.e. the upcoming return to the Moon with a human crew, which NASA plans to launch later this year.
In the quarry, experts observed a three-person crew, who were submerged for seven days in a special habitat at a depth of 10 metres. The thirty-five-tonne underwater laboratory structure was analogous to Apollo 11’s lunar module. Its power and air supply were provided from the shore. Inside the habitation module, the crew performed scientific tasks in their allotted time, including three deep-water walks to simulate walking on the surface of the Moon.
The control tower centre, analogous to the Houston mission control centre, housed university teams who were in charge of research, control, and crew tasking. Experts from various universities were thus constantly monitoring the biometric data of the crew, the internal environment, and the technical condition of the entire facility.
In addition, the mother ship, which orbits the Moon during space flight, was simulated by a station floating on the surface of the quarry. The three-person crew of this station, equipped in the same way as the deep-sea laboratory, had no access to the shore for the duration of the mission and were isolated from outside influences and other social contacts except for the control tower and the crew of the special habitation module.
“Our goal is to design an instrument that can be used to investigate the influence of personal characteristics and external factors on team dynamics during prolonged stays in an isolated, confined, and extreme (ICE) environment. This instrument should also allow screenings of individuals and the team during pre-selection and training in this environment. It will enable the investigation of the effects of personality characteristics and external factors on the behaviour of work teams in relation to psychophysiological processes,” said Roman Procházka, head of the team of psychologists participating in the project and associate professor of the Department of Psychology at the UP Faculty of Arts. The data collected from the Diana III mission will be now analysed and interpreted by the scientists in order to be utilised not only in the selection of crews for long-term space flights, but also for scientific stations and rescue teams in various inhospitable environments.
Hydronaut DeepLab H03 Naty is a unique deep-sea station for the research of human survival and training in extreme environments. In the controlled atmosphere of the underwater habitat, the effects of pressure, humidity, stress, artificial lighting, and confined environments on human bodies, materials, equipment, and biological material can be investigated. Diving equipment and a controlled decompression ascent are required to exit the station. Therefore, in the event of technical or health problems, it is not possible to leave the habitat without a real threat to health, which places great demands on the station crew, support team, logistics, and mission planning, and creates a very stressful environment. The station took thirteen years to design and build, and the idea was the brainchild of professional diver and designer Matyáš Šanda, who is collaborating with scientists on the project. The first seven-day mission, which proved the system’s functionality and the team’s ability to carry out the mission, took place in August 2020.
The project “Tool for assessment of personal characteristics and external factors to improve efficiency and collaboration of the team during a long-time stay in Integrated Collaboration Environment (ICE)” (No. TL05000228) is supported by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic. The main investigator is the Department of Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Czech Technical University, Prague. Co-investigators are the Department of Psychology at the UP Faculty of Arts and the Department of Health and Population Protection at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, CTU. The Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ostrava, and a team of rescue workers from the Liberec Water Rescue Service are also involved in the project.
Palacký University Olomouc has been very successful in Erasmus+ mobility projects. In the next two years, within the Erasmus+ KA131 programme alone, another 540 students will be able to attend study stays or practical internships in EU countries, while 180 employees will be eligible for teaching stays and training.
The project covers trips to all EU countries and associated countries such as Norway, Turkey, Serbia, and others. “UP has received a grant of €2,001,673 in the Erasmus+ KA131 programme and a grant of €1,203,337 in the Erasmus+ KA171 (International Credit Mobility) programme,” said Jitka Králová, Head of the UP Mobility Office.
“In the International Credit Mobility project, 24 of the 28 countries requested by Palacký University in its application have been approved, so over the next three years, UP will be able to exchange up to 344 students and staff with institutions in countries such as Canada, Georgia, Israel, Japan, the USA, and even Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Zambia,” added Yvona Vyhnánková, who coordinates Erasmus+ programmes at UP.
Both successful projects significantly expand the possibilities of international mobilities and bring new collaboration opportunities for the university itself as well as its students and staff. “Receiving more than €3,205,000 to support mobility is a great success. However, the implementation of the programme will also be a great challenge, because the world has barely recovered from the covid pandemic, yet it has to face new global challenges,” said Dalibor Mikuláš, Head of the UP Internationalisation Division.
Acquainting students with the latest methods of mapping landslides and associated natural hazards was the goal of an international field trip called “Geospatial technologies in hazard research and response”, which took place in Iceland in mid-August and was attended by students from Palacký University Olomouc, the University of Innsbruck, and the University of Iceland.
“The course in Iceland was very beneficial. What I appreciate most is that I could use my theoretical knowledge and verify it directly in the field, where we spent all our time, regardless of the weather. The great thing was that each day was designed differently and everything was smoothly connected. For example, we went on a day-long survey where we used geophysical methods. The path was not easy, we literally climbed almost to the top of the ridge, where we examined the presence of permafrost and the structure of the subsoil,” said Matěj Kašpar, a student of Regional Geography.
The field trip was focused on the surroundings of the city of Seyðisfjörður, which is in danger of landslides and avalanches every year. “The first two days were focused more on geological mapping and physical geography tools. We also focused on participatory mapping and methods of human/socio-economic geography,” added Jiří Pánek from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, who coordinated the field trip at Palacký University.
Even before the field trip itself, Olomouc students took advantage of the unique opportunity to see an active volcano in the Fagradalsfjall area. “Best of all, it was a great group of people and the relationships with the teachers were very friendly. The collection of soft data was also interesting. Almost every Icelander cooperated with us and shared their experiences, which was great. I can certainly recommend a similar course,” added Kašpar.
The field trip was financed by the Aurora Alliance. The teaching staff included staff from the University of Iceland, Palacký University, and the Icelandic Meteorological Service.
Students of law, anthropology, history, European studies, and sociology were attracted to Olomouc by the International Summer School in Refugee Law and Rights. Its ninth year is being held under the auspices of the Aurora European University Alliance, and the main organisers are the UP Faculty of Law together with the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Ukraine.
The organisers prepared the concept based on previous successful years. “The first part of the summer school is focused theoretically and more generally on refugee issues and international humanitarian law. In the next part we are dealing with actual cases and the situation in a specific country. This year, due to the current events in Europe, we decided to focus on Ukraine,” said Selma Porobić, UP Aurora Alliance Manager, who is in charge of several teaching blocks at the summer school.
The Kharkiv university, which is a partner of Palacký University in the Aurora Alliance, contributed significantly to the programme. “The V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University has its own summer school, which has been dealing with the issue of internal displacement in the context of the eastern Ukraine conflict since 2014. However due to the current situation, they could not open it for their students this year. So we decided to combine our summer school and theirs and partially adapted to their needs,” said Porobić, who praised the smooth collaboration with her Ukrainian colleagues, Olena Mashyntsova and Oleksandr Khyzhniak.
Also exceptional is this year’s format. For the first time, it is being held in a hybrid way. “Some of the students work directly in the classroom, some of them join in on-line. Even some of the teachers are on-line. The hybrid format allows us some flexibility, but it is more challenging organisationally. Higher demands are placed on the lecturers. However, even those who could not come to Olomouc for various reasons, such as Ukrainian students, can participate this way,” Porobić pointed out.
The UP Faculty of Law provided its facilities and participated in the preparation of the ten-day event; several of its experts are lecturing at the school. The teaching blocks were prepared by Martin Faix and Eva Zorková, both from the Department of International and European Law, and by Maxim Tomoszek from the Department of Constitutional Law. “The lecturers include academics from both host universities as well as experienced experts. For example, two of our colleagues, Eva Garcia and Mark Macskovich, are working in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Linking academic perspectives and practical, on-the-ground experience is essential to the quality of our event and its merit,” Porobić emphasised. The summer school programme combines expert lectures, workshops, and discussion sessions.
Thirty participants attend the ninth year of the International Summer School in Refugee Law and Rights. Most of them are students from the UK, Italy, and Germany. Vera Wild is a student who came to Olomouc from Hamburg. “I study law, but we don’t do much international law at our university. That’s why I’m looking for other options beyond my faculty. This summer school is a great opportunity for me to advance in this area of law,” said Wild. She likes the approach of the lecturers and highlights the opportunity for dialogue. “I appreciate the space for discussion and exchange of ideas, for working in groups. Since there are students from various disciplines and from other countries, the debates are very intriguing. The interactive aspects are very good.”
Aurora Alliegro, an Italian student of history at the University of Naples, had a different motivation for participation. “I study mainly modern history, and the last century has been full of wars and conflicts. In the future, I’d like to be a journalist, because I am fascinated by war reportage. So I’m very interested in the topic of refugees and international law, which are opening up new horizons for me,” explained Alliegro.
Foreign students come to Olomouc to be educated – but that’s not all. The organisers also show them the beauty of life in Olomouc. “This is my first time in the Czech Republic. Olomouc is so beautiful. Being a history student, I find there is a lot for me to see here. I think it's an ideal place for student life,” said the young Italian.
This year’s International Summer School in Refugee Law and Rights follows up on the previous successful summer schools organised by the Centre for Refugees at the University of Sarajevo between 2012 and 2015 and by Palacký University Olomouc since 2018. One of its co-founders, together with Selma Porobić, was Barbara Harell-Bond, Professor Emerita at the University of Oxford, who has made a significant contribution to the active promotion of the rights of refugee communities around the world.
The International Summer School in Refugee Law and Rights has its own website. This year’s school ends on 25 August.
Beer production and technological processes, the effect of beer on human health and its place in history as well as the history of chemistry – all of these will be offered by the newly established Experimental Microbrewery of Palacký University (UP) Olomouc. When brewing beer, students will gain information not only about the technological and chemical processes that give this drink its characteristic properties, but also about the beneficial effect of moderate beer consumption on human health. The brewery plans to brew its first batch of beer by the end of August.
“We want to gradually involve all faculties in our experimental brewery project, because the beer phenomenon can be examined from many points of view – whether they be the history of brewing, the development of recipes and beer culture over time, geographical differences in the brewing process, the use of modern technologies in contemporary brewing, or the health aspect of drinking beer,” said Lukáš Kučera from the Department of Analytical Chemistry, UP Faculty of Science (FS).
In the initial phase, the experimental brewery will brew 25 litres of beer per batch since according to current legislation its annual production cannot exceed 2000 litres. For this project, the Dean of the UP Faculty of Arts, Jan Stejskal, promised to free up unused basement premises in the building on tř. Svobody, which, thanks to its stable temperature and humidity, offer ideal conditions for brewing and maturing beer.
The brewing equipment will serve both scientific and academic purposes, as various learning modules and courses can be linked to this attractive topic. For example, the Department of Analytical Chemistry has already introduced the course “Chemistry of Beer”, to which it will now add the new course “Practical Chemistry of Beer”, thanks to the experimental microbrewery. “It will be focused on the study of all chemical processes that take place during the brewing of beer and its maturation in lager barrels,” noted Kučera.
Students will thus be able to investigate e.g. the role of various bacteria in beer fermentation or develop new methods of analysing the individual components used in the production of the golden liquid. The connection of the experimental microbrewery with the UP Faculty of Education also has great potential. “Its current curriculum can be enriched e.g. with a course focused on the issue of fermentation, which is a very important process in terms of food preservation. Fermentation can be utilised as part of crisis plans or for long-term food protection,” said Kučera.
Thanks to the experimental microbrewery project, the students of the UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry will also gain interesting information. “Beer contains a lot of beneficial substances for the human body. For example, the effect of its moderate consumption on the human gut microbiome, said to be our second brain, can be studied. The proper function of the microbiome plays a vital role in human health. The positive effect of moderate beer drinking on the cardiovascular system is also interesting, thanks to the presence of substances from hops,” added Kučera.
At present, the brewery is located in the premises of the Department of Analytical Chemistry. In the following months, the production technology will be moved to the basement of the Faculty of Arts located on tř. Svobody.
During rainbow formation, the effect of water droplets on light is similar to the way light is controlled in laboratories using the most advanced technology. The direct analogy between the two optical mechanisms has been demonstrated by a joint project involving the UP Faculty of Science and the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) at the Brno University of Technology. For the first time, scientists obtained a unique holographic image of a full-circle rainbow created in the laboratory, which made it possible for them to demonstrate the vortex twisting of light by falling water droplets. The results were published in the journal Laser & Photonics Reviews and featured on its cover.
In their experiments, researchers made a holographic imaging of rainbow light in order to reconstruct the phase images of primary and secondary rainbows. Then they focused on examining the effects in individual water droplets, which they replaced with glass microspheres in their experiments. “The primary incentive was to demonstrate the twisted phase of rainbow light, which is characteristic of optical vortices,” said Petr Bouchal from the Brno university, who initiated the rainbow research. "Already the initial stage of the research showed that solving such a task is challenging and is related to advanced control of light using metasurfaces, which is the focus of our project research," added Zdeněk Bouchal from the Department of Optics at the Faculty of Science.
Since the beginning of optics, light has been controlled by a targeted change in the optical path. An example is a converging lens, which slows down light passing through its centre more than light passing through the edge, where the glass is thinner. The lens thus changes the dynamic phase of the light, causing parallel rays behind the lens to become convergent. However using advanced technology, scientists have now found a way to steer light independently of the optical path it travels. They use the geometric phase of light, which was discovered for optics years ago by physicists S. Pancharatnam and Sir Michael Berry. “Controlling light with the use of the geometric phase has introduced entirely new possibilities, and the bulky glass lens can be replaced by a thin anisotropic layer, most often made up of liquid crystals or plasmonic metasurfaces,” added Petr Bouchal. “It is remarkable that the shaping of light through the geometric phase is used quite naturally in the formation of a rainbow. Although this atmospheric phenomenon has fascinated ancient civilisations and its physical nature has been studied by generations of optical scientists, the geometric phase change in water droplets has remained undiscovered,” said Zdeněk Bouchal.
Ever since the origin of ultrathin optics, anisotropic nanostructures have been capable of providing new optical functions. Examples include components that generate light vortices with a helical wavefront that resembles a spiral staircase. Such experiments require a helical change in the geometric phase of the light. This can be achieved by precise angular twisting of liquid crystal molecules or nanoantenna array metasurfaces. “Optical calculations have shown that an analogous geometric phase change occurs quite naturally in dielectric spheres, including water droplets, due to polarisation changes during the internal reflection of light. However, proving the spiral change of the geometric phase of rainbow light experimentally was a challenging task," added Petr Bouchal.
The spiral phase of the rainbow was reconstructed from time-resolved holograms recorded in incoherent white light reflected by a number of randomly falling water droplets created by a water spray. It was therefore necessary for the experiments to eliminate any effects associated with the change in the optical path of the light. “For this purpose, a special system using self-correcting light was designed, which also had to capture the rainbow light in an angular field of view greater than 120 degrees. The obtained quantitative phase images convincingly demonstrated the spiral phase distribution in both the primary and secondary rainbow in the shape of a full circle,” said Petr Bouchal, who designed and conducted the experiments.
In further research, the scientists focused on investigating the twisting of light in individual water droplets, which they replaced with glass spheres 5 to 10 micrometres in diameter. Polarised light vortices and vortex interference fields of high optical quality were then created using dielectric microspheres. “From a physics point of view, it was surprising that the glass spheres demonstrated the ability to convert the components of angular momentum of light. Light beams with circular polarisation carrying spin were converted into light vortices carrying orbital angular momentum in individual spheres. This effect has so far only been observed in nanostructures with spatially variable anisotropy,” said Zdeněk Bouchal.
These rainbow experiments have provided scientists with inspiration for designing new ways of controlling light, with wide potential of practical application. “The expanded insight into the mechanism of geometric phase modulation has led us to new methods for full anisotropy reconstruction which provide high spatial resolution and bring advances in biomedical and materials research,” concluded Petr Bouchal.
Why do flying adult fireflies (family Lampyridae) glow? Years of conjecture by experts seems to have been put to rest by an international team of scientists including representatives of the Czech Advanced Technologies and Research Institute – CATRIN, Palacký University Olomouc, who believe that fireflies use bioluminescence for courtship. They base their conclusions on analyses of a large amount of molecular data and fossil samples from 25-99 million years ago. Their research results have been presented in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, and also mentioned as a scientific matter of interest in the journal Nature.
“While firefly larvae glow to indicate that they are not palatable food, adults probably started using bioluminescence to woo. In fact, we have established that fireflies acquired this ability more than 133 million years ago. Long before their natural enemies, the birds and bats of today, appeared on Earth. The most probable hypothesis is that sexual communication was the reason for the emergence of light in adults,” said one of the authors of the study, Dominik Kusý from CATRIN. Together with the Olomouc scientists, their long-standing partners from several research institutions in the USA participated in the research.
“We were interested in the evolutionary history of fireflies and their luminescent relatives (families Sinopyrophoridae, Phengodidae, Rhagophthalmidae) and click beetles (family Elateridae). We used a large number of genes to reconstruct family relationships. We also examined a new set of fossils, including one from Burmese amber, which dates back to the Mesozoic Cretaceous. Thanks to molecular dating, we were able to determine when and in which evolutionary lineage the ability to bioluminescence in adults arose and, based on this, to infer the possible reason for this evolutionary change,” Kusý explained.
Olomouc scientists have been studying fireflies and their bioluminescence for a long time. Earlier studies, in which they also participated, have identified a glowing relative of fireflies that is strikingly similar to click beetles, thus demonstrating that glowing beetles have been on Earth for about 150 million years.
Bioluminescence, the emission of light by certain organisms, is not only found in fireflies and their close relatives, such as the click beetles. It can also be observed in some species of fish, fungi and invertebrates. It is associated with the presence of luciferin and the enzyme luciferase.
After a two-year break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Palacký University (UP) is resuming practical cooperation with Camosun College in the city of Victoria, the capital of the westernmost Canadian province of British Columbia. The universities started the partnership in 2015, and the focus of their cooperation has so far been in the areas covered by the UP Faculty of Physical Culture (FPC) and the Department of Geography of the Faculty of Science (FS). Based on recent events, however, possibilities are opening up for those interested in other fields as well.
In recent years, the Erasmus+ programme significantly helped to strengthen, deepen, and expand cooperation between the universities in Olomouc and Victoria. Thanks to this, students and employees of both institutions could get to know each other more thoroughly in the study environment as well as the research, technical and administrative background of the partner school, and, of course, other geographical environments.
However, since the spring of 2020 cooperation has become very complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated anti-pandemic measures. “It was a big challenge for our established cooperation. Students nominated to study abroad for the spring 2020 semester had to wait more than two years before they were allowed to complete their desired experience. Due to the fact that, in addition, some key coordinator positions on both sides of the ocean changed, this period was even more of an ordeal. However, with the dropping of anti-pandemic measures, representatives of both institutions decided to follow up where the coronavirus interrupted the promising cooperation,” said Petr Šimáček from the Department of Geography.
The first student sent after Covid was a student of the FS Department of Geography who attended the spring semester at Camosun College. In mid-June, Camosun College foreign cooperation coordinator Marius Langeland travelled to Olomouc to take part in the International Staff Week workshop for coordinators of partner universities organized by the UP Centre for International Cooperation. Towards the end of June, he was followed by three of his academic colleagues from the School of Arts and Science, for whom representatives of the Department of Geography prepared the programme.
“One member of the Canadian delegation expressed an interest in visiting chemistry laboratories as well, and after a subsequent discussion with representatives of the Olomouc Department of Inorganic Chemistry, both parties expressed an interest in extending cooperation to this additional area,” added Šimáček.
At the beginning of July, a UP delegation headed to Camosun College, which included representatives of the Rector’s Office, the Faculty of Physical Culture, and the FS Department of. The home institution prepared a rich and inspiring programme for UP representatives, including a tour of campuses, and workshops and discussions with experts on various topics such as international partnerships and cooperation, strategy, quality of education, and “indigenization”.
“On that topic, one of the most interesting, personal, and profound discussions took place in the workshop dedicated to the management of the quality of education. The purpose of this process is to correct colonial grievances, support free education, but mainly to take into account the intellectual traditions and cultural wealth of the original North American peoples in Canadian education across fields,” said Luděk Šebek from the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at UP FPC.
The subsequent discussion revealed interesting possibilities for further expansion of cooperation with the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in the field of outdoor education. Some activities were attended by all and others, aimed at specific areas of cooperation, took place in smaller groups. “The visit also included lessons for local students, followed by an intensive and interesting discussion. Last but not least, there were a number of cultural activities that helped the UP representatives get to know the environment of the host city of Victoria and its area better. During the visit, there was also a meeting with a student of Palacký University, who evaluated the benefits of his mobility and shared the experience gained from studying and living in Canada as compared to Central Europe,” said Eva Ohnisková from the Centre for International Cooperation.
In connection with the visit of UP representatives, Camosun College declared an interest in expanding cooperation in other areas as well, e.g. biology, economics, and management studies. “On the basis of the subsequent discussion, the signing of a memorandum of understanding was therefore negotiated, which would guarantee the possibility of student exchange within all mutually compatible disciplines and study programmes. Representatives of both institutions thus not merely declared their interest in continuing mutual cooperation, for in the near future, further exchange stays of students and employees of both institutions can be expected,” added Tereza Kalousková from the Centre for International Cooperation.
Dear colleagues, dear students,
The end of the academic year is approaching, and the time of holidays and summer vacations is beginning. It is also a good opportunity for me to thank you for your work over the past semester. We have had another challenging period, which has been influenced by both the covid pandemic and the war conflict in Ukraine. I am confident that we have all handled it more than with honour.
Before last year's holidays, I wished us all that we could meet face to face again in the next academic year. I am delighted that this has been possible thanks to all of you, thanks to our joint efforts, our flexible reactions in the face of constantly changing conditions, our efforts to find solutions, and our responsible approach to all measures.
The real pride I felt was in the moments when we came together as a university and got involved in helping Ukraine, which is affected by the war. I consider the activities developed in this sense by our Volunteering Centre, individual faculties and other parts of UP to be a great example of how our university can subscribe in words and deeds to democratic principles and humanitarian ideals so crucial for maintaining balance in human society.
The period of summer holidays and vacations is upon us, and I would like to wish you many pleasant moments spent with your loved ones. Enjoy the sunny days and moments of well-deserved rest. At the same time, take care of yourselves during your summer travels so that we can reunite safely no later than the beginning of the new academic year.
I wish you all a wonderful summer!