News from UP

VegetUP developed by Olomouc scientists to increase the yields of fruit vegetables

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 11:38

A hydroponic preparation that increases yields by five to ten percent has been developed by scientists from the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research (CRH), which brings together the scientific teams of the UP Faculty of Science and the Olomouc branches of the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Crop Research Institute. The preparation derived from plant hormones, cytokinins, can now be purchased by growers under the name VegetUP.

“The preparation increases the production of fruit vegetables and at the same time delays the ageing of plants, so they can grow more evenly throughout their vegetation. It also helps plants to better cope with temperature fluctuations,” said one of the authors, Radoslav Koprna from CRH. Together with him, other colleagues from the Department of Chemical Biology at CRH and the Laboratory of Growth Regulators, which is a joint workplace of the UP Faculty of Science and the Institute of Experimental Botany, participated in the development of this substance.

The product was registered in February by the Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture, which confirmed not only its effectiveness, but also its safety for the environment and its production. Under the name VegetUp, it has been included in the database of fertilisers and auxiliary products for hydroponic cultivation, i.e. cultivation without soil, which has been booming in recent years. Since only a very small amount of this new type of solution is needed, CRH employees are able to prepare it for the interested parties on their own.

“While other substances need micromolar amounts, in this case there are nanomolar amounts added into large volumes of water. The recommended dilution is in millilitres per tens of thousands of litres of water. Those interested can contact us; we have also started to address large agricultural companies. I am not aware of any similar substance on the market,” added Koprna.

Eight years ago, Olomouc researchers began testing the effects of the plant hormones cytokinins in plant watering and spraying in collaboration with the Fosfa company. In the past, cytokinin derivatives were used, for example, in the Aucyt Start fertiliser, which promotes the formation of strong offshoots and thus ears and grains in cereals and branching in oilseeds; or in Salis, which is a preparation intended for seed staining in a wide range of crops such as spring or winter cereals, rapeseed, poppy, sunflower, legumes, etc.

Categories: News from UP

Faculty of Science receives five prestigious EU grants

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 04/03/2020 - 09:45

Scientists from the UP Faculty of Science will participate in prestigious international projects funded by the European Horizon 2020 programme. The projects are aimed at the targeted treatment of osteosarcoma, quantum technologies beyond the Gaussian states, and quantum metrology. They will also seek to increase the resistance of potatoes to stress and to find possible solutions to the problems that European coal-dependent regions face in their transition to a carbon-neutral economy. A total of five projects received grants, spread over three years.

Four projects from the Czech Republic were successful in the Twinning call, two of them from the UP Faculty of Science. In the NONGAUSS project, scientists from the Department of Optics will focus on the almost unexplored area of nonlinear quantum technologies going beyond Gaussian states. They will cooperate with the Sorbonne in Paris and the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby. “This project aims to break the long-term barrier in physics of many quantum particles, which is based on deterministic Gaussian states and operations, and to extend basic research and applications much further to the field of deterministic non-Gaussian quantum phenomena. The project will help us to at least partially explore and perhaps find a way to use this vast unknown area of nonlinear quantum physics,” said the project coordinator, Radim Filip from the Department of Optics. The acquired knowledge will be used in future quantum applications focussed on secure communication, simulations of nonlinear quantum phenomena, very accurate measurements, quantum computation, and even quantum thermodynamics.

The aim of the second project, called NANO4TARMED, is the targeted treatment of osteosarcoma, a malignant bone disease. “Our colleagues from Ireland are experts in drug development. At RCPTM, we provide nanoparticles that could be used to deliver the drug to the affected tissue. This is an issue that we have been dealing with for a long time. And our partners from Italy will contribute with their experience in testing this targeted treatment on cancer cells,” said Václav Ranc of the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM), which received the prestigious grant. The project will also involve researchers from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche in Italy and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

The team of experts from the Department of Optics also succeeded in the FET Open call. Their project bears the acronym StormyTune – Spectral-temporal Metrology with Tailored Quantum Measurements. It is aimed at the field of quantum metrology and thus complements the previously granted ApresSF project. In the StormyTune project, Olomouc scientists together with their colleagues from Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, and Poland will try to achieve quantum super-resolution, which should make quantum metrology even more accurate.

“Given the possibilities offered by quantum mechanics, it is truly remarkable that quantum metrology has never focused entirely on optimisation of measurements, but rather has been concerned with the construction of quantum states used to test the system under investigation. This project will use quantum estimation theory methods associated with quantum Fisher information; our goal is to achieve the quantum super-resolution mode in the temporal and frequency domain. We will demonstrate the theoretical considerations experimentally,” said Zdeněk Hradil of the Department of Optics.

Scientists from the Laboratory of Growth Regulators (LRR) will join the ADAPT project in the Sustainable Food Security call. The aim of the project is to identify the molecular mechanisms by means of which potatoes can adapt to combined environmental stress. It will result in the development of new breeding strategies to improve the productivity and yield stability of potatoes under stressful conditions. “The potato is one of the most important food crops in the world. One of the main limitations to ensuring necessary yields is its sensitivity to environmental stress, heat, and drought, often followed by floods. As far as agricultural crops are concerned, we practically lack knowledge of the signalling mechanisms that plants trigger after exposure to stressful conditions in an attempt to adapt to them. These adaptation mechanisms require metabolic reprogramming triggered by different signalling paths,” said Miroslav Strnad, Head of the LRR.

“In the case of potatoes, we will try to understand the dynamics of these complex signalling and stress response mechanisms,” added Strnad. The results of the research should be used in breeding new potato varieties that will be adapted to the specific environmental conditions.

The international project “Enabling positive tipping points towards clean-energy transitions in coal and carbon intensive regions” applied in the call “Social Sciences and Humanities Aspects of the Clean-Energy Transition” is focussed on the challenges of European coal-dependent regions in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. It is rooted in the critical concept of socio-ecological “turning points” in the context of climate change, energy transitions, and economic transformations. “Based on empirical analyses of selected geographical, environmental, and socio-economic indicators, our objective is to understand the different developmental trajectories of various European regions and to identify and characterise the key negative and positive turning points within these developmental trajectories,” said Bohumil Frantál from the Department of Geography.

Horizon 2020 – the Framework Program for Research and Innovation – is the largest and most important programme for funding science, research, and innovation in Europe.

Categories: News from UP

Photo journal: Volunteers at University Hospital Olomouc

News: Faculty of Science - Sun, 03/29/2020 - 14:04

Dozens of students of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine & Dentistry have become permanent reinforcements for the staff of many departments at University Hospital Olomouc in recent weeks, including a COVID-19 testing checkpoint, set up in the parking lot of the Theoretical Institutes building. You can take a close look at the “frontline” through the camera lens of Vojtěch Duda.

The management of both faculties highly appreciates their students’ work. “I value your volunteer work not only as a noble gesture on the part of young, enthusiastic people, but above all as the humane response of future doctors to an emergency situation in which personal comfort goes by the wayside and helping those in need comes to the forefront. At this moment, I already know that you will not fail as doctors and that you understand that being a doctor is not just a profession, but a mission. I am delighted that we have the privilege to educate such future doctors here,” said Dean of the UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Josef Zadražil, in his address to students.

Martin Procházka, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, also addressed thanks to “his” students: “We appreciate your attitude and commitment. It is proof of how sensitive you are to the moral dimension of your future professions. We are proud of you. Thank you for representing our faculty, for helping the patients and the needy. Let me wish you a lot of strength and good health.”

We are continuously providing coverage of how Palacký University students are volunteering during the pandemic, not only in University Hospital Olomouc. Their impressions and experience can be found – in addition to other information – here.

Categories: News from UP

Video: UP management reacts to your questions on the emergency situation

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 03/25/2020 - 17:46

The current emergency situation in the Czech Republic – and the specials measures at Palacký University that go with it – has sparked many questions and uncertainties from both students and staff. UP management chose the format of live stream video to provide some answers. The themes came from students and employees, who sent their questions via e-mail in advance.

Hundreds of questions were received, making it impossible to answer each in turn. Since many of the questions were similar, UP management divided them into themes in order to fully comment upon them.

After a few introductory words and a brief English summary for foreign students, UP Rector Jaroslav Miller, Vice-Rector for Studies Vít Zouhar, Vice-Rector for External Relations Petr Bilík, and Director of UP Accommodation and Dining Josef Suchánek covered the following themes:

  • the timetable for the rest of the summer semester, including exams, state degree exams, graduation ceremonies, and submitting final theses;
  • the situation at the dormitories, and adjustments to dorm fees with respect to the emergency;
  • UP communication strategy and communication platforms to provide the latest information;
  • volunteer activities at UP during the emergency;
  • the situation of foreign students at UP, who are currently “stuck” in their home countries and fear they may not be able to return to Czechia due to the closed borders;
  • foreign study stays (Erasmus, et al.) in the coming academic year;
  • the situation of students who need to carry out internships and lab work, and the situation regarding additional fees if exceeding the normal number of degree semesters;
  • the form and dates of entrance exams for the coming academic year.

A recording of the video stream can be found here:

Categories: News from UP

Major EU grant for the Department of Romance Languages and their foreign partners

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 03/20/2020 - 09:20

The Department of Romance Languages at the UP Faculty of Arts, in cooperation with nine foreign universities from seven countries, has been awarded the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant (in the Research and Innovation Staff Exchange subprogramme) from the Horizon 2020 framework program, one of the highest bars that European researchers can strive for in science and academia.

The grant is entitled TRANS.ARCH: Archives in Transition: Collective Memories and Subaltern Uses and aims to map how new digital technologies and the postmodern collapse of grand narratives, along with the emergence of new theoretical approaches such as postcolonial studies and queer studies, have led to changes in understanding the archive. At the same time, researchers wonder how different groups of people – from descendants of America’s indigenous peoples and victims of Latin American dictatorships to migrants and sexual minorities – use archives to exercise their rights.

The grant is coordinated by Prof Roland Spiller from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. Besides Palacký University, there are partners from Italy, Spain, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia.

“Obtaining this grant is crucial for the scientific development of our department and is the fruit of the long-term and systematic building of a network of academic contacts in Latin America and Europe,” said Daniel Nemrava, head of the Department of Romance Languages and the coordinator of the Olomouc scientific team.

The Department of Romance Languages at the UP Faculty of Arts has been focussing on Latin America in earnest for two decades. Their research has been manifested by a great number of publications published by prestigious publishing houses abroad. The awarding of this grant is the culmination of efforts to put Olomouc Romance Studies on the map of European science.

Categories: News from UP

Rector Jaroslav Miller on the emergency situation: Solidarity and responsibility are what we need now

News: Faculty of Science - Sun, 03/15/2020 - 12:50

Dear colleagues, university employees and students,

„Big events“ in history are usually not concerned with our individual dreams, desires, and goals. They violently intrude into our lives, forcing us to stop, change our behaviour, and above all to be achingly aware that we are not the absolute lords of this world, and sometimes we have to adjust to the ingresses of a higher power. The events of last week without a doubt fall into this category. The promising summer semester under way has been dramatically interrupted by the expanding global pandemic of the coronavirus, and the leadership of Palacký University Olomouc, in conjunction with the measures of the Czech Government, has decided to completely suspend physical classes, limit entry to the majority of university facilities, and apply a number of necessary restrictive and hygienic measures. The university is supposed to teach and conduct research. Crowds of hurrying students and academics are an integral part of university life – the hubbub in faculty courtyards, the hundreds of student activities. This is why it was so difficult for me to face the fact that we might, although temporarily, have to give all this up.

At first glance, the measures taken may seem too stringent to some. Why should the university close its laboratories? Wouldn’t teaching be possible at least in smaller groups, where the risk of infection is also quite small? Why did we have to close the libraries? I and my colleagues, who have helped carry the burden of these decisions, are well aware that students need to study for tests, exams, and degrees, they have to finish their theses, and they have many other study commitments which are required. There are of course a number of reasons for our actions. I’d like to name but one, which is important to me personally and which reflects solidarity and intergenerational understanding. Many of our colleagues, due to age or health reasons, fall into the groups which in the current situation can be threatened more – and more fatally – than others. Because Palacký University is made up of a united community of academics, students, and all its other employees, we have to protect those of us who are subject to the greatest risk.

Our community is crucial in today’s situation

The word “community” is absolutely crucial for me in today’s crisis situation, because it refers to the kinship of people overseeing a shared goal, to solidarity, mutual aid and understanding. In just the first week we have exhibited the meaning of community to its fullest, and I am humbled before the sacrifice, drive, and charity of our colleagues and students. I would like to take this occasion to truly thank the students of the Faculties of Medicine & Dentistry and Healthcare Sciences for help in hospitals and healthcare facilities in these times when the workforce is spread thin. Students of the Faculty of Education volunteered to babysit the children of University Hospital Olomouc employees, and the Sts Cyril and Methodius Theological Faculty is offering help regarding social and psychological aspects. Gradually volunteer activities at other faculties have joined in. The UP Communications Office under the leadership of Petr Bilík is working 24 hours a day in order for you to be timely and particularly informed on all the essentials. UP dormitories and dining halls under the stewardship of Josef Suchánek during the forced restrictive measures are trying to approach normal operations and meet all of you at least half-way. Operationally, for example, they have bought packaging equipment, and the main dining hall will continue to serve food on premises as well as now to go – to the best of its abilities and capacity. So too the central library, which although it has had to close its doors, after meetings with its director, Helena Sedláčková, the library has decided to put into operations an emergency yet effective system of borrowing so that students may continue to study for their upcoming exams. I have to give my utmost thanks to the non-academic employees of the university, working under such stressful conditions. Above all, our maintenance and cleaning staff.

Although physical classes have been suspended, we have seen that that all clouds have a silver lining. One of these is the unexpected development of e-learning tools and methods. Teachers have reacted flexibly and many of them have switched to on-line teaching. Also deserving our thanks for superb collaboration in this respect is the UP Computer Centre. Nor can I omit our foreign students, for whom the current situation is quite demanding from the psychological perspective. Please help them, if in need. The UP International Relations Office under Vice-Rector Kudláček is working to the utmost limits of their abilities, however individual help and timely advice are appreciated when in need. Please excuse me for having certainly omitted other examples of sacrifice and goodwill. I appreciate the altruistic help of you all.

The hectic developments of the past days have placed enormous demands on organisation, crisis management, and logistics. With the general short supply of disinfectant materials, for example I have had to transform myself into a middleman and quite non-rectorly cajole the rector of a friendly university to urgently provide UP with 120 litres of disinfectant gel made in the laboratories of Tomas Bata University. This example shows that the current, unprecedented situation is forcing us to improvise more than we dared hope. You may occasionally have the feeling that everything could work better and more quickly. We ask for your tolerance and generosity. Just like everybody else, we are learning as we go along, and doing everything in our powers and abilities.

You will not miss out on the joy of graduation ceremonies

Dear students, I know that you are most interested in how long the temporary closing of the university will last, and what will happen regarding finishing the semester in terms of your tests and exams. My honest answer to the first question at this time is: I do not know whether the suspension of classes will last until mid-April or longer. However, as soon as it is remotely possible, we will be back on normal track. Of course you will be regularly informed on developments via the university web pages. The answer to the second question is clear: the semester will be carried out, even if under extraordinary conditions (one possibility is extending classes into June). Compulsory exams will take place, state exams will be held, study requirements will be fulfilled, and parents will even have the chance to weep during graduation ceremonies. The university will coordinate the entire process (with the exception of parental tears); however, the specifics will be up to the individual faculties. I would like to thank all our deans for showing true leadership and for their flexible approach to changes in the timetable.

In closing, I would like to try to cheer all of us up a bit. The university in Olomouc has gone through many dramatic moments in its almost half-millennium history. It was here in 1573, it is still here in 2020, and it will continue to serve its country steadfastly. The thanks for this are due above all to our wonderful employees and students. We should not lose heart about the reality surrounding us, for there is no reason to do so. Sooner or later, this epidemic will end. Let’s rejoice that we have (re)discovered solidarity, humbleness and tolerance, those same values which seemed to have fallen by the wayside on our journey from 1989 to 2020. It occurred to me that it has been thirty years since UP was last closed. I hope that we are now having our portion of bad luck for at least the next three decades to come.

Dear colleagues and students, I hope that we will ALL meet again soon, and return to the university in full force. Together, we will get through this.

Jaroslav Miller

PS: Please monitor all the latest information on the special UP web page.

Categories: News from UP

Dining halls to stay open: plus, you may now take your meals to go

News: Faculty of Science - Sat, 03/14/2020 - 15:13

In conjunction with the government measures in place as of 14 March, we would like to assure you that university dining halls (with the exception of the one at Šmeralova, which is temporarily closed) will continue to remain open for UP students and employees.

In addition, as of Monday, March 16th, UP Accommodation and Dining has prepared something new: the sales of refrigerated fast food, which you make get as take out. In the online WebKredit system, you will be able to order soup and from three main dishes one day in advance and pick up the food to go on the next day. Once home the food can reheated in a microwave oven. The fee for the special take-out packaging is 8 CZK, 5 CZK for soups. The number of such meals will be limited, but we believe that for some it will be a welcome bonus in these days of emergency. More detailed information can be found on Facebook and on the web pages skm.upol.cz.

Categories: News from UP

Information for UP employees and students in the aftermath of the Declaration of a State of Emergency in the Czech Republic

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 03/12/2020 - 17:54
Student life and the closing of university premises, libraries, and FreshUP bistros

Throughout all of Palacký University there remains in effect a strict suspension of all forms of physical classes, from now until further notice.

As of Friday, March 13th, there will be a strict ban on students entering university premises – with the exceptions of dormitory and dining complexes, including those situated in individual faculties. As of Friday, March 13th, all FreshUP bistros will be closed.

As of 8 am on Friday, March 13th, all university libraries will be closed. UP will do all it can to substitute selected UP Library services by alternate means, which will be established as soon as possible.

Until further notice, students may not travel on foreign study stays, nor will foreign students be accepted on study stays at UP. At the same time, we call upon students to minimise any type of travel – including within the Czech Republic.

Dormitories and dining halls will remain open; you should monitor the UP Accommodation and Dining webpages (skm.upol.cz) regularly for actual developments.

We would like to assure you that university and individual faculty management will continue to monitor the development of the actual situation intensively and will not cease to arrange and find measures which will least affect the life and operations of the UP academic community. Special attention is being dedicated to the situation of students who were expecting to take final state exams and/or defending their theses. We ask you for your patience and trust, as at this time we are making maximum efforts in taking necessary and practicable steps.

New rules for employees

In the case of UP employees, all prior measures relating to the suspension of physical classes remain in effect (see above). UP management asks for your complete cooperation in carrying out these measures. Failure to follow these rules will result in serious legal and employment repercussions.

Work trips and foreign visits at UP

With respect to the actual development of the situation and the Declaration of a State of Emergency in the Czech Republic by the government, UP management has made changes to the regime of work trips by UP employees and foreign visits to UP:

  • Until further notice, no employees are to be sent on any domestic or foreign work trips.
  • Already approved work trips abroad must be cancelled.
  • UP employees who are at present on foreign trips should be assisted in cancelling their foreign stay as quickly as possible, and their earliest return to the Czech Republic should be made possible.
  • There is a ban in effect on accepting foreign guests to UP until further notice.

We are aware of the difficulty of the ongoing situation and the complications it has forced upon you. We do believe, however, that together we can manage these difficult times. Thank you for your helpfulness and patience.

Categories: News from UP

Researchers from the Faculty of Science investigate the causes of honeybee colony losses in the Czech Republic

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 03/12/2020 - 12:00

In recent years, beekeepers have been increasingly confronted with extensive losses of honeybee colonies, which occur repeatedly in the Czech Republic, every two to three years on average. These results come from the surveys of experts from the Department of Biochemistry at the Faculty of Science. This year, researchers will try to identify the causes of this unfavourable trend and quantify overall losses through the seventh extensive data collection from beekeepers.

Using six surveys to date, involving approximately 1,200 respondents in recent years, experts from the Faculty of Science found out that the last major deaths were recorded by domestic beekeepers between the years 2014 and 2018. For example, in 2015 one fifth of honeybee colonies did not survive the winter, mainly due to the decimating varroosis disease. “According to field reports, significant colony losses can be expected from the past year. It is therefore necessary to map in which periods the losses reoccur. Previously they reoccurred every five to seven years, currently the period of recurrence is already significantly shorter: two to three years,” said Jiří Danihlík from the Department of Biochemistry, a beekeeper himself.

This year, domestic beekeepers will again receive a questionnaire with questions on honeybee colonies hibernation, losses, and beekeepers’ activities in the past season, etc. “We are trying to monitor all the various important factors that could affect the colonies’ hibernation. We want to learn not only about the current situation, but also create a data archive so that we can return to the obtained data in 5, 10 or 15 years and see how it has been in the past,” said Danihlík.

Thanks to the data, researchers could investigate the causes of the colonies’ mass mortality, which, according to Danihlík, may be due not only to honeybee diseases, but also to climate change or the nature of the landscape around honeybee hives. “We also want to find out whether these mass mortalities occur in the lowlands, mountains, or areas with intensive agriculture, and what is the concentration of honeybees in the affected areas, because all of this has an impact on their health,” he said. Thanks to the survey, researchers should also get answers to the questions whether there are areas in the Czech Republic where there is no significant mass mortality in honeybee colonies.

Experts from the Faculty of Science have also launched interactive maps of the Czech Republic with data on honeybee colony losses in individual regions, the concentration of honeybees and important resources for egg-laying. “The maps offer a unique insight into the results of the questionnaires and, above all, allow us to understand the otherwise hidden spatial context,” said Jan Brus from the Department of Geoinformatics.

There are about 779,000 honeybee colonies and nearly 63,000 beekeepers in the Czech Republic. The results of the survey for the Czech Republic, organised by experts from the Faculty of Science, are annually sent to the international association COLOSS, which monitors the success rate of honeybee colony hibernation in Europe. According to Danihlík, beekeepers in neighbouring countries have also reported extensive honeybee deaths in recent years. “Everyone is debating the possible causes and one that has been in the public spotlight is varroosis, which has likely swept through Central Europe,” he added.

The project “COLOSS: Monitoring of honeybee colony losses” is an international project under the auspices of the Swiss-based COLOSS association. The Czech Republic has been involved in the project since 2014, when the first year of monitoring took place. The questionnaire and map applications are available at www.coloss.cz.

Categories: News from UP

Palacký University temporarily suspends classes

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 03/10/2020 - 12:24

In conjunction with the situation regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus, UP management suspends all physical classes from 11 until 22 March on the basis of emergency governmental measures. This also applies to life-long learning classes at UP.

You will be informed if the actual situation makes further suspension of classes necessary.

 Alternative forms of instruction and studies at this time are possible on the individual agreement between teachers and students. 

 Work requirements for UP employees are not suspended by this decree. Possible changes in the form of UP employees’ work regimes will be decided by faculty deans and workers’ supervisors.

 UP dormitories, dining halls, and libraries will remain open.

We further recommend monitoring reports from the Czech Ministry of Health, especially information related to the risks associated with travelling.

Categories: News from UP

Rules of Conduct at Palacký University Olomouc Regarding Limiting the Spread of COVID-19

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 03/06/2020 - 11:30

Work-organizational instructions

  1. People who are sick should not go to work, to lessons, or enter UP premises even if you only think you have an ordinary cold or virus. Urge your colleagues, if they seem indisposed, to stay home.
  2. Do not go to work, to lessons or enter UP premises if you have visited an area in the past 14 days where the presence of COVID-9 has been confirmed.
  3. Employees returning from areas where the COVID-19 virus is spreading will go into in home quarantine. They should watch their symptoms for a period of 14 days and take their temperature twice daily.
    In case of a slight cough or higher temperature (i.e. 37 °C or more), they should contact their health insurance provider and the regional public health station and give them the details of their prior journey, a description of their current health complications, and also give them the names of people which whom they have been in contact. The employee should also contact their supervisor via telephone or e-mail to discuss the conditions for a short-term absence from work.
  4. Before sending an employee/student on a work/study stay abroad, the employee’s/student’s supervisor must make sure they have the latest information on the areas where the COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading. Regularly check the webpages of the WHO and the pages of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  5. The employee’s/student’s supervisor should weigh the benefits and risks associated with each journey on the basis of the up-to-date information.
  6. The employee’s/student’s supervisor should avoid sending employees/students who might be in a higher risk category for reasons of chronic illness, for example those having chronic health problems (e.g. diabetes, heart and lung diseases), to work/study stays.
Categories: News from UP

Emergency measures and recommendations regarding the spread of the new coronavirus

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 03/03/2020 - 15:01

The Rector of Palacký University Olomouc recommends that university employees and students who are returning from areas determined risky due to the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus epidemic, or those who have been in direct contact with infected persons, stay home for a period of two weeks and not attend classes nor work at the university, even if there are currently no visible symptoms of the disease.

We are thus hereby recommending all faculty deans, directors of other university divisions and institutions, and employee supervisors during this crucial time to allow:

  1. Students, to whom the above applies, to be excused from classes, and
  2. Employees, to whom the above applies, to be allowed to work at home, if possible. In critical cases, to arrange work furloughs, to be considered as an impediment to work on behalf of the Employer, as established according to §208 of the Czech Labour Code.

In conjunction, the Rector of Palacký University is announcing a ban on work and study trips to risk areas (e.g. the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, Northern Italy). Workers and students who are returning from these areas must count on the necessity of being tested for this coronavirus and also on a 14-day home-quarantine.

The Rector of Palacký University furthermore does not recommend any students or employees to travel to countries affected by the virus, nor to those to which the Czech Ministry of Health or other ministries do not recommend travelling.

The Rector of Palacký University Olomouc recommends all faculty deans, directors of other university divisions and institutions, and employee supervisors not to recommend student study stays nor employee work stays in countries where there is an incidence of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

In situations where employees have already planned trips abroad and have incurred deposits or fees, it is necessary to contact insurance agencies and individually resolve return of funds for trips not taken.

For reasons of prevention, the Rector of Palacký University Olomouc is hereby cancelling all classes of the University of the Third Age until further notice. All students and teachers of U3A courses will be informed of this via telephone or email.

The above measures and recommendations come into effect as of 3 March 2020 and will remain in effect until further notice.

 

Recommended webpages:

If travelling to the affected country is absolutely inevitable for you, or if you have visited one of the affected regions in the past three weeks, we kindly ask you to inform the International Relations Office promptly by filling up the following questionnaire and via e-mail iro@upol.cz as well.

In case you are feeling sick with fever or cough or/and have severe respiratory problems after visiting the affected regions, do not visit any hospital or medical center, call the emergency line 112 directly.

Please find more information regarding prevention by clicking on the links provided below.

How is the new coronavirus transmitted?

Like other coronaviruses – such as the common cold – the COVID-19 is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.

It can also be spread when someone touches a contaminated surface such as a door handle or when people touch their mouth, nose or eyes with infected hands.

How can I protect myself from catching the new coronavirus?

Hand hygiene is the first and most effective way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.

Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom and before eating

Other tips include:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick, recommended distance is at least 1 meter.

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you to make frequent cleaning of hands easy.
  • Carry disposable tissues with you and always cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze before disposing of the tissue carefully (catch it, bin it, kill it) cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, not your hands!
  • Be especially careful in busy airports and other public transport systems about touching things and then touching your face.
  • Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if you suspect viruses are circulating, maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.
  • Regularly clean, not just your hands, but commonly used surfaces and devices you touch or handle (mobile phone).

Prevention Steps for Close Contacts

If you have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection, you should:

  • Monitor your health starting from the day you first had close contact with the person and continue for 14 days after you last had close contact with the person. Watch for these signs and symptoms:
    • Fever. Take your temperature twice a day.
    • Coughing.
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing.
    • Other early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and runny nose.
  • If you develop fever or any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away.
  • Before going to your medical appointment, be sure to tell your healthcare provider about your close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected. If you do not have any symptoms, you can continue with your daily activities, such as going to work, school, or other public areas.

Wear a facemask

You should wear a facemask if you discover any of the symptoms, when you visit a healthcare provider. If you cannot wear a facemask, the people who live with you should wear one while they are in the same room with you.

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
Categories: News from UP

UP introduces a new series of textbooks for teaching Czech to foreigners

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 13:45

Czech it UP. This is the name of the UP project under the imprimatur of Palacký University which has just published the first volume of a new series of textbooks for teaching Czech to foreigners. Its publication is testimony to the expanded and intensified activities and ambitions in teaching Czech as a foreign language in recent years.

Deeping internationalisation, a significant increase in the number of foreign students and attendees of summer schools in Olomouc, the ever-expanding roster of collaborations with foreign universities. These are among the impulses why UP decided to launch the Czech it UP project. “The prestige of our university and Olomouc itself is on the rise, foreign students enjoy coming here to learn Czech, and there is also interest in our lecturers and doctoral students going abroad to teach Czech. Thus, we decided upon a new series of textbooks, arising from the fertile testing ground of Palacký University, one which will also help promote the UP brand name,” said Martin Kudláček, UP Vice-Rector of International Relations. Last year, 4,497 foreign students from 108 countries attended UP, and 110 students from 30 countries attended its Summer School of Slavonic Studies (SSSS).

The Czech it UP series is not intended solely for students connected with UP. Its overall purpose has a universal nature and it is not fixed to the Olomouc environment. “We would be pleased if the Czech it UP textbooks find a home with teachers of Czech abroad and in Czech communities in the USA, South America, and elsewhere,” added Kudláček.

Oxford style

The project Czech it UP was inspired by the modern style of Oxford UP’s textbooks, bringing a “magazine” format in which every language theme is explored on two facing pages. “This format makes it easier for lessons at school and at home. The textbooks’ themes reflect contemporary issues and make a great soundboard for intercultural discussions which can enliven teaching and motivate students to the relatively difficult task of learning Czech,” stated Darina Hradilová from the Department of Czech Studies at UP’s Faculty of Arts, the guarantor of the project Czech it UP.

There will be five textbooks in the series, following the European framework of language instruction for levels A1–C1. The first book in the series to be published is intended for the most advanced students of Czech. “We are introducing the series Czech it UP intentionally starting with the C1 level volume, because there is nothing like it on the market, and it fills a big gap for teachers and students alike,” explained Aleš Prstek, Palacký University Press Director.

“Several teachers tested the working version of the C1 textbook at the last Summer School of Slavonic Studies. We got very positive feedback from students. We expect that the textbook’s concept will address a wide spectrum of foreign students,” said Pavla Poláchová, Director of the SSSS.

Palacký University Press will introduce more volumes in the series during 2020, starting with those aimed at the B2 and A1 levels. The remaining books in the series (A2 and B1) are planned for 2020.

Interactive audio-visual content

An integral part of the textbooks and working with them are situational instructional video and audio recordings, which are available on the interactive webpages of the project (czechitup.eu). “The era of textbooks with accompanying CD-ROMs is over; today’s students prefer a transparent, intuitive webpage as a more effective medium to better one’s skills and proceed to the next level,” said Prstek.

All the videos and the lion’s share of the audio files were created by the authors and directors of the Czech it UP team. These, hand-in-hand with the dynamic graphics by Vojtěch Duda and the creative photography of Jakub Čermák, give the Czech it UP textbooks their distinctive look and feel.

The UP International Relations Office, the Department of Czech Studies at the UP Faculty of Arts, Palacký University Press, UP Audio-Visual Productions and the UP Communications Office all contributed to the Czech it UP project. For more detailed information, click here.

Categories: News from UP

UP botanists discover a new species of carnivorous pitcher plant in Borneo

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 02/20/2020 - 08:00

A new species of carnivorous pitcher plant, which grows mainly in the northern part of Borneo was discovered by Martin Dančák from the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the UP Faculty of Science. The tropical pitcher plant, dubbed Nepenthes fractiflexa, can be seen only in a few places in Borneo, so it is a relatively rare species. The description of the new species has been recently announced by the journal Phytotaxa.

Martin Dančák discovered the new pitcher plant accidentally when in 2008 he set out for mountain areas in the interior of Borneo. “But at that time, I did not recognise that it was a new and yet undescribed species. That was determined later by foreign colleagues who made an expedition to mysterious Mount Kemul in the Indonesian part of Borneo,” said Dančák.

Mount Kemul is located in a very remote area of Borneo, isolated from its surroundings and difficult to access. “My colleagues, however, managed to climb the mountain and discover the same pitcher plant as I did. It grew there together with a closely related species, with which it was previously mistaken. My colleagues noticed they are very different plants, and that it is a new and undescribed species of the tropical pitcher plant,” Dančák explained.

The new species, Nepenthes fractiflexa, is characterised by its remarkably winged stalk, not common in most pitcher plants. Also, the plant’s traps have an interesting shape and colour. “Pitcher plants have conspicuous cups with lids, often very colourful. But this species has less colourful cups. I even saw one population in Borneo this year that had pure green pitcher cups, which is very interesting,” added the ecologist.

The newly described pitcher plant grows among mountain vegetation. Most sites are located at altitudes of around 1500 metres above sea level and more. “They usually grow in more open, rather shrubby vegetation. So it is not a species that would prefer forests or shady habitats,” added Dančák.

After a longer hiatus, Nepenthes fractiflexa is another newly described species of pitcher plant from Borneo. Botanists now register some 170 species of pitcher plants, with almost 40 species growing in Borneo. “Surely this is not the last species of the pitcher plant to be discovered in Borneo. We already know about another new species, which is yet undescribed. We are keeping that one for next time,” said Dančák.

Categories: News from UP

New call for UP Endowment Fund grants: Students, take advantage of your opportunities!

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 08:00

With the new year and new semester also come new opportunities. One offered to students is from the Palacký University Endowment Fund, which today announced its sixth call, to which students can apply until 30 March in order to get support for their scientific, academic, and artistic projects.

The Palacký University Endowment Fund (UP EF) supports outstanding international scientific, research, and artistic activities of students. Since it was founded in 2015, 42 student projects have been supported, in the total amount of €150,000. “This year we will distribute €25,000 to successful applicants. This is money from private donors. Their contributions are intended for all students of Master’s and doctoral programmes, from all faculties of UP. Students can receive up to €8,000 for their projects. We support scientific, academic, and creative projects. We maintain the same principles upon which the UP EF – a unique project in the Czech Republic – was founded years ago: maximum trust and minimal bureaucracy. In addition to the money, students also receive support via training in key areas such as leadership, project management, popularisation of science, and medialisation,” said Dita Palaščáková of the UP EF.

Talent + vision + support = The Palacký University Endowment Fund

Students can make use of the monies in various ways: e.g. on airfare, accommodation, or purchasing lab materials, etc. What they all however have in common is the effort to manage their own project, become acquainted with top-notch international professional workplaces, and get to meet leaders in their field. Otomar Pešek, a student from the UP Faculty of Science who was successful in the last call, can attest to the programme’s worth. “The entire process of applying was very simple and quick for me. I am very grateful to the coordinators of the UP EF for their help and support in the application process. Thanks to UP EF support, I gained a new insight on academic work and expanded my horizons. I’m very glad for the opportunity to cooperate with other scientific workplaces, for the possibility to gain new contacts, and for the chance to delve into the world of real science,” the student evaluated, and added a comment for his fellow students across the university: “If you have a vision, you are excited about your project and you believe in it, then do not hesitate to apply in order to turn your dream into reality.”

František Zálešák has a similar evaluation of his experiences. This student from the Faculty of Science was also successful in the last call. “The UP Endowment Fund meant the opportunity for me to get to the lab of Prof Cristina Nevado, in snowy Switzerland. I have no idea where else I could have obtained the funds for spending three months in such a pricey country. Filling out the application was like taking a stroll through a rose garden. Compared to applications for other grants, where for example I had to get a signed statement from my doctor that I was physically and mentally fit, UP EF has a minimum of bureaucracy,” the doctoral student said. He also considers making contacts with other scientists as crucial. “I was able to spend more than three months among people who share the same passion for chemistry I have, which was enriching for me personally as well as professionally. In a seventeen-member workgroup there were thirteen different nationalities, so I also made contacts from all over the world, which I intend to make use of in the immediate future.”

The sixth call for projects is open as of today. On-line applications including all required attachments must be sent by 30 March 2020. Detailed information including the registration system can be found on the pages of the UP EF. The pages also have a list of all the projects supported in the past, as well as information and experiences from supported students. It has also been published as a Facebook event via the UP EF Facebook profile.

For those interested, there will be an informational meeting at which one can ask about anything. It will take place at 3:30 pm on 17 February in the UP Career Centre in the Zbrojnice (Armoury Building).

 

Categories: News from UP

Gold prize for Faculty of Science student Zbyněk Kurač

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 12:00

Zbyněk Kurač from the Department of Algebra and Geometry at the UP Faculty of Science earned the Best Conference Student Contribution Award at this year’s Fifteenth International Conference on Fuzzy Sets Theory and Applications (FSTA) held at Liptovký Ján, Slovakia.

The work, entitled “Transfer-stable aggregation function on bounded lattices”, gave rise to an interesting application that monitors the relationship between product quality and price. “I didn’t even think that I could place so high. The very fact that I won was a shock to me, I was speechless and I really appreciate it,” said Kurač. The award is accompanied by a financial reward and an invitation to publish further results in Axioms journal.

The work deals with special types of aggregation functions which are using one of the characteristic properties of arithmetic means, namely stability with respect to the uniform change of input values.

“I wrote my work together with PhD students Tomáš Riemel and Lenka Rýparová from the same department. The aim was to find the most suitable types of lattices, the transfer-stable lattices, on which new special aggregation functions can be defined most effectively. Based on the obtained results, we came up with an application suitable not only for business but also for other fields of where applicable,” described Kurač.

The application focuses on the relationship between product quality and price, and based on an appropriately selected quality class, it is possible to list all potential purchases of several products.

Experts at the FSTA conference discussed in particular the analysis of aggregation of data of various types and the prediction of system development based on various mathematical models. Approaches based on the theory of aggregate functions suitably complement classical statistical procedures.

Categories: News from UP

Week-long course at the Faculty of Physical Culture focuses on sport for development

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 12:00

Four dozen students from three European countries participated in a week-long intensive course (3–9 February 2020) which was held at the Faculty of Physical Culture. The course was focused on the possibilities of using sports and movement activities for further social and cultural development, and offered lectures and workshops led by experts not only from Palacký University Olomouc but also by specialists from Brazil and New Zealand.  

The course is a part of the three-year Erasmus+ project Global Sport for Development and Peace Knowledge Collaborative, GloKnoCo for short, with the main investigators the UP Faculty of Physical Culture and the Department of Development and Environmental Studies of the UP Faculty of Science. Their partners in the project are the University of Brighton from the UK and Paderborn University from Germany, as well as several NGOs specialised in sport for development. The project aims to support and innovate teaching in sports and developmental fields of study, as well as extending and deepening international contacts, and bringing the academic world closer to what goes on in practice.

“We want to introduce the theoretical as well as practical side of sport for development to students from partner universities. That is why we have invited not only lecturers from various universities but also representatives of NGOs, which work on the ground and realise their activities in South America, Africa, or Asia. The students will familiarise themselves with the concept of sport for development and they will learn that sport is not only a physical activity but that it also has a social and cultural impact. Simultaneously, we will explore how to effectively prepare projects within this field. The results will be students’ own proposals for projects focused on specific issues. These will be presented during the final symposium in Berlin, which will take place in May,” said Arnošt Svoboda, from the Department of Social Sciences in Kinanthropology at the Faculty of Physical Culture.

Beside lecturers from Palacký University Olomouc, students will have the opportunity to also hear lectures from international experts such as Billy Graeff from the Brazilian Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, who specialises in mega sporting events and their impact on third world countries, or Robert Rinehart from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, a sociologist specialising in extreme sports. Other courses will take place during the next two years at universities in Brighton and Paderborn. In addition to the courses, an important part of the project is also research for which the project leaders will explore the approach of educational institutions to teaching subjects related to sport for development.

The GloKnoCo project resulted from a previous meeting of the lecturers during one of the annual week-long International Teaching Weeks, held at the Faculty of Physical Culture twice a year. “We were connected by our interest in the field of sport for development and so we decided to try and plan some collaboration. I would like to praise the work of my colleague Simona Šafaříková from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, who is the main source of energy and has many contacts in the international sphere due to her various activities,” added Svoboda.

More information about the GloKnoCo project is available HERE.

Categories: News from UP

New issue of UP Žurnál magazine in English

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 02/03/2020 - 12:54

A smiling face from the UP Faculty of Education greets readers from the cover of the new UP Žurnál in English. Pavel Kučera, a sign language interpreter, is actually an icon for the entire issue of the magazine, which shows a “different dimension” of UP academics and students, acquainting readers with their scope of interests and activities. This issue also commemorates the 30th anniversary of the fall of communism in 1989, showing the transformations at the university over the past three decades.

Ever since I interviewed a man from the Faculty of Science, who enticed me into a world, which according to him, “is easy to orient oneself”, i.e. the world of mathematics, the close of our interview has been keeping me up nights. Marek Jukl is not only a mathematician and assistant professor at the Faculty of Science, he is also president of an organisation which has about the same number of members as the Czech army. He’s the head of the Czech Red Cross, and so our interview was partly about maths, but mostly about humanitarian aims. And why have I been losing sleep? His answer to my last question, about if we’ll ever see a time when wars will be over: “It would be difficult to say whether there will ever be lasting peace on Earth. But even if it never comes to pass, the attempts of the Red Cross to “humanise” war – though it may seem like an oxymoron – will not have been in vain. I’m convinced of that,” said Jukl, President of the Czech Red Cross.

“He has clever hands. They can not only sew trousers, those hands are also making him a living by interpreting,” begins the article in the Portrait section, in which we introduce readers to Pavel Kučera. Perhaps you already know him from the Facebook pages of the Faculty of Education, or perhaps from the videos this dynamic person makes. In this interesting Portrait you will read not only how he managed his own hearing challenges, but also what he is doing today in addition to everything else: e.g. teaching courses for entire families, teaching at summer schools, and interpreting at weddings.

And you’ll find out what UP scientists are up to at the moment. For example, an article about the success of the international team which has just decoded the pea genome, in which the UP team under Prof Jaroslav Doležel of the Olomouc laboratory of the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, part of the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological Research, played a significant role.

Of course, UP can pride itself on its students, too. And if anyone were ever to be in doubt of that, get to know Anna Víšková of the Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology, whose project was supported by the UP Endowment Fund, or the travel experiences of Karolína Nováková from the Faculty of Physical Culture, or the talented team from the Faculty of Health Sciences who are winning rescue competitions.

But there’s a whole lot more, so pick up the year’s first issue of the UP Žurnál in English.

Download your free issue of UP Žurnál for free.

Ivana Pustějovská, Editor-in-Chief, UP Žurnál

Categories: News from UP

Petr Fryčák awarded American patent for instrument to measure surface conductivity

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 01/29/2020 - 08:00

Petr Fryčák from the UP Faculty of Science Department of Analytical Chemistry has been granted an American patent for his instrument, one which measures rapid changes in low surface conductivity values in the environment of electromagnetic interference in mains voltage. The instrument is able to monitor changes of surface conductivity in connection with water condensation in real time.

“I was granted an American patent for an instrument which can measure the conductivity of hard surfaces. It can also be used to measure relative humidity, including surface condensation. We are already offering the equipment to firms,” said Fryčák, who has already been granted a Czech patent for the device.

He says the new device could soon have applications for example in the automotive industry, where it could be used for quick and efficient defogging of automobile glass. “While there are devices for that, they are slower, or generally have worse qualities than ours, which is distinguished by its sensitivity and especially its quick response as compared to existing commercial solutions,” he added.

Measuring surface conductivity can be applied to other purposes. For example, in testing the quality of insulation, monitoring human breathing, or in checking air conditioning units, where it is necessary to determine whether there is any liquid condensation on the surface. “It’s fairly simple in principle: it is basically a voltage divider with a sensor as one of its impedances. What we are monitoring is the voltage on the divider,” he said, describing the device.

Fryčák however had to resolve several technical problems during its construction. “Every such device is influenced by electronic interference, which is everywhere surrounding us, emitted from equipment and electric power distribution. But we know how to deal with it, as this is one of the things that our device resolves,” he said.

The device was about two years in development. It was born as a side product of another research project, one aimed at mass spectrometry, ionic sources, and ionisation processes. “In that research we needed to measure the surface humidity, so I originally invented the device for that task. However, it proved to be of more general use, which is why I developed it for patenting,” Fryčák explained.

Categories: News from UP

Indonesian Studies at UP strengthen cooperation with Universitas Airlangga

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 01/28/2020 - 08:11

Palacký University Olomouc was visited by a delegation of its partner institution, Universitas Airlangga, from Indonesia. During the short visit, both sides agreed to strengthen their mutual activities. Thanks to their cooperation that has been running smoothly for years, the UP Faculty of Arts will probably be the first in Europe where an “Indonesian Corner” will be established.

Toetik Koesbardiati and Afifah Rahmania of the Universitas Airlangga Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, located in Surabaya, a city of nine million in East Java, met with Ondřej Pokorný, Head of the Indonesian Studies for Tourism programme (IST) at UP. This was the first ever visit from Universitas Airlangga to Palacký University.

“After a tour of the university premises, classrooms, and facilities, Prof Toetik Koesbardiati thanked us for the invitation to Olomouc. At the same time, she expressed satisfaction with the ongoing forms of cooperation, which include one-semester stays of our selected students at Universitas Airlangga,” said Pokorný, who visited Universitas Airlangga last November. He added that both sides agreed to strengthen their mutual activities, especially in the area of internationalisation – in student and academic mobilities. According to him, both universities want to strengthen student exchanges in degree programmes, which offer a wide range of study opportunities at both schools.

Due to the smooth cooperation, Universitas Airlangga has decided to offer Palacký University the establishment of the first “Indonesian Corner” in Europe. It would be a place where UP students will be able to learn not only about Indonesia, but also about study and internship opportunities in the country. According to Prof Koesbardiati, these activities have so far been limited to Asia, especially to the countries of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Taiwan. “Now it's Europe. We perceive Palacký University as a strong, stable, and strategic partner in the context of all European Union countries,” she said.

Universitas Airlangga is in a position similar to Palacký University. According to Pokorný, it is not the largest nor oldest university in the country, but thanks to great efforts, its scientific performance as well as its internationalisation activities are improving every year. “Universitas Airlangga is currently one of the three most prestigious universities in Indonesia, and collaboration with such an ambitious institution is always beneficial for us. At the same time, I am glad that student mobility will continue. Their offer to establish the Indonesian Corner may be seen as an appreciation of our attitude and academic success in Indonesian studies,” he added.

Categories: News from UP

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