News from UP

Palacký University awarded prestigious Czech National Quality Award

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 24/11/2023 - 10:00

Palacký University Olomouc was awarded 1st place in the Public Sector category of the Czech National Quality Award. These awards are given to institutions that demonstrate the existence of a functional quality management and evaluation system, in accordance with the National Quality Policy of the Czech Republic. The award was received in the Senate of the Czech Republic by Michal Malacka, UP Vice-Rector for Strategy and Regional Affairs, and Hana Marešová, Head of the Strategy and Quality Office.

“The Czech National Award programmes are designed to provide organisations with strategic feedback of a different kind and help them promote systematic improvement. It is ultimately a manual to developing a culture of improvement and innovation and a tool to address needs in the organisation and to identify the available solutions. They enable organisation to find a way to significantly improve their performance and thus to advance in the transformation of ways of working,” said Malacka, explaining the reasons for UP’s involvement in this national competition.

The evaluation of institutions is based on the European Excellence Model EFQM, which UP is gradually implementing in its quality management and evaluation system.

This year, UP has applied for the highest level of the Czech National Awards programme, i.e. the EXCELLENCE programme. It is designed for organisations that have an adequate management system in place and wish to receive strategic and operational feedback on the level of its performance, readiness for future challenges, etc.

“We chose this top programme following the successful implementation of the EFQM model at our university according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s inspection in 2019, immediately after obtaining institutional accreditation, in connection with the necessary feedback on the level of the implemented system and verification of what is missing in quality management. This first step has already been successful for UP. Our university was able to win 1st–2nd place in the public sector category of the Czech National Award for Social Responsibility, thus proving that we are moving in the right direction in thinking about how to set up a quality management system, for which we started to be fully responsible together with obtaining institutional accreditation. This year we entered the highest competition. We are aware that this year’s external evaluation by the Ministry of Industry and Trade will significantly help us to set up our system so that we will be as prepared as possible for regaining institutional accreditation, which is expected in 2027, when we will again prepare a complete dossier on the university’s activities for the Czech Accreditation Office,” explained Hana Marešová, Head of UP Strategy and Quality Office.

Every UP employee and student has the opportunity to get involved in improving the quality of activities at UP. The website of the Strategy and Quality Office ( has an online form for submitting observations, suggestions, and ideas.

“The award ranks UP not only alongside important multinational and national companies such as Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech, CEZ Group nuclear energy division, the Czech Air Navigation Institute, and Commercial Bank (Komerční banka). In addition, the university has been awarded the internationally recognised “5-star organisation using the EFQM Model” rating and the associated external and independent feedback in the form of strengths and opportunities for improvement, formulated by the assessors. UP has also achieved corresponding recognition in the international EFQM database,” said Vice-Rector Malacka.

“Words of thanks for such a highly positive evaluation of our university go to all those who, since obtaining institutional accreditation, have been working dutifully and ceaselessly to build a comprehensive UP management system, which may not be quite so visible at first glance, but ultimately affects all activities at our university and each and every one of us. That is why we welcome the involvement of every member of our university community who can contribute in any way so that in 2027, when preparing the documents for regaining institutional accreditation, we can demonstrate how far we have progressed in our work and how we are working on its continuous improvement,” added Marešová.

The award ceremony of the Czech National Award for Social Responsibility, Quality, and Family Business for 2023 took place in the Wallenstein Palace of the Senate of the Czech Republic with the participation of the Minister of Industry and Trade, Jozef Síkela, and the Chair of the Committee for Economy, Agriculture, and Transport of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Miroslav Plevný. The event was held under the auspices of the President of the Senate of the Czech Republic, Miloš Vystrčil, the President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala. More details are available here.

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Unicomm Achieves Excellence: Community-Based Education Workshop

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 20/11/2023 - 10:20

The remarkable project UNICOMM, in which Palacký University Olomouc is an active member, stands as a leader in the interests of both the international and national student and academic society. This collaborative effort, led by the University of Warsaw as the main coordinator, the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, the European Students' Union (Belgium), and Palacký University Olomouc, focuses on the identification of individual patterns supporting the inclusion and participation of student communities, competence development in a variety of dimensions, and more. A meticulously designed two-day intensive workshop, led by Mgr. Lucie Flekačová, Ph.D., the main UP coordinator of the project and the current director of the Support Centre for Students with Special Needs, took place from November 4 to 5, 2023.

The entire workshop unfolded within the premises of the Faculty of Physical Culture, with Mgr. Lucie Flekačová, Ph.D and Mgr. Lucie Ješinová serving as workshop coordinators. Head lecturers from the Department of Adapted Physical Activities, Mgr. Ondřej Ješina, Ph.D., and Mgr. Daniel Mikeška, along with esteemed colleagues and professionals in their respective fields, including psychologist Mgr. Kamila Banátová, Ph.D., Head of the Department of Adapted Physical Activities Prof. Mgr. Martin Kudláček, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Welcome Office, Bc. Pavel Flekač and Mr. Viktor Slávik, played pivotal roles.

With a specially tailored program, international students were encouraged to expect the unexpected, primarily delving into experiences they had not encountered before. The workshop spanned diverse locations, including lecture rooms, sports halls, outdoor spaces, and other venues, facilitating 15 hours of intensive work. This approach resulted in active participation, effective communication, and a diverse range of activities.

Participants seized the opportunity to recognize the diversity within the student society and establish connections despite any differences. Under the guidance of main lecturers Mgr. Ondřej Ješina, Ph.D. and Mgr. Daniel Mikeška, participants explored the intricacies of creating an inclusive environment, understanding group dynamics, handling specific situations, and engaging in icebreakers. Colleagues from the Welcome Office, Bc. Pavel Flekač and Mr. Viktor Slávik, delved into the structural and organizational aspects of establishing new support centers, overcoming numerous obstacles successfully to achieve desired outcomes.

On the second day, participants not only explored the intricacies of collaborative work and an inclusive environment but also delved into self-discovery. Through yoga sessions, led by prof. Mgr. Martin Kudláček, Ph.D., participants absorbed the atmosphere and connected with the calming and focused reality he magically presented. This captivating activity, acclaimed as the highlight of the workshop by numerous participants, was complemented by Mgr. Kamila Banátová's, Ph.D. erudite module, where she presented psychological perspectives and potential approaches to the theme.

"The two-day workshop, which was attended by 30 participants, garnered significant reflection and overwhelmingly positive feedback. Participants expressed that they acquired numerous competencies, such as critical thinking, communication in a lingua franca, group work, problem-solving outside their comfort zones, and more. I extend heartfelt appreciation to all parties involved in this transformative workshop, fostering connections not only across transnational perspectives but also notably among the international participants and lecturers who contributed to its success," stated Mgr. Lucie Flekačová, Ph.D., the main UP coordinator of the UNICOMM project.

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Scientists from Faculty of science have developed new alfalfa with increased biomass and barley resistant to Fusarium using genetic engineering

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 16/11/2023 - 14:43

New genotypes of alfalfa and barley were developed using genetic engineering and editing by scientists from the Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Palacký University Olomouc. The results of their research focused on signalling in plants, which in the future could contribute to increasing yields and pest resistance of agricultural crops, have been published in prestigious international journals such as Plant Biotechnology Journal, Plant Physiology, Journal of Experimental Botany and Frontiers in Plant Science.

Alfalfa is an important fodder and source of high-quality proteins for human nutrition. Thanks to this, it gradually complements and partially even replaces the better-known soybean. The experts altered alfalfa's properties using gene engineering that caused overproduction of the signalling protein SIMK, which is a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). This enzyme is important not only for plant response to stress conditions, but also for their development. It is indispensable in the interaction of alfalfa with soil bacteria from the genus Rhizobium, thanks to which this fodder creates root nodules important for obtaining the necessary amount of nitrogen from the soil, and does not need to be fertilized. The method of genetic engineering helped to create new important alfalfa genotypes with increased biomass.

Scientists Jozef Šamaj and Miroslav Ovečka have been studying the functions of the SIMK protein for more than 20 years. Younger researchers Miroslava Medelská (Hrbáčková), Ivan Luptovčiak and Kateřina Hlaváčková have been working intensively with them for the last 10 years.

Researchers from the Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science UP also focused their attention on barley, for which they used the TALEN gene editing method. Employing this procedure, they prepared completely unique mutant lines of barley with knockout of MAPK3 gene, which are characterized by resistance to fusarium wilt. Using another genome editing method, CRISPR/Cas9, they succeeded in obtaining a barley line with the knockout of MAPK6 gene, which is defective in stem formation and exhibits a dwarf phenotype. This research clearly demonstrates that results from the model plant Arabidopsis unfortunately cannot be directly applied to crops, as mutants in the same gene show defects in root and not stem development in Arabidopsis.

The results of this ten-year breakthrough research focused on barley have been published in renowned journals, and the main authors Pavel Křenek, Tomáš Takač, Jasim Basheer, Pavol Vadovič and Jozef Šamaj are from the Department of Biotechnology.

“This practically oriented research with possible biotechnological use is already helping to create modern crops of the new generation with higher biomass production or increased resistance to dangerous pathogens, and is moving our department to the forefront in gene editing and modification of agriculturally important crops in the Czech Republic,” said the head of the Department of Biotechnology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Palacký University in Olomouc Jozef Šamaj.

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A Year of Celebration: Embracing the Welcome at Our Welcome Office!

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 10/11/2023 - 09:25

In commemoration of the one-year anniversary of our esteemed Welcome Office, a notable event unfolded on October 31. This momentous celebration took place within the halls of the International Cooperation Division, winding through the corridors of the Welcome Office, and culminating in a dedicated conference room.

The atmosphere resonated with the lively presence of student groups, who not only reflected on the achievements of the past year but, more notably, engaged in meaningful discussions, sharing personal experiences, and fostering connections. This evolving sense of fellowship led to the exchange of contacts, giving rise to newfound friendships destined to endure beyond the confines of academia.

The thoughtfully devised programme orchestrated by our dedicated Welcome Office team addressed the diverse audience of students, academic staff, and esteemed colleagues within our institution and beyond. Central to the proceedings was the introduction of an enriching video presentation, "Olomouc - Cradle of Education," unveiling the university to our international student body. In collaboration with Palacký University Press and the Faculty of Arts, Department of History, an exhibition was inaugurated, initially showcased in New York City during the 450th-anniversary celebration of Palacký University Olomouc. The exhibition, currently displayed at Vodární 6 near our Welcome Office, meticulously portrays the inception of our esteemed institution from its founding in 1573 to the present year, 2023.

If you have not had the opportunity to experience it firsthand, we extend a cordial invitation for you to do so.

Our anniversary celebration also served as a nexus for esteemed colleagues and directors from diverse university departments, fostering an environment conducive to the exchange of experiences and the cultivation of connections between students and their mentors. The bonds forged within the premises of our Welcome Office between students and other members of the university community are held in high esteem.

With sincere gratitude, we acknowledge the support of international students, academic staff, and other individuals who have sought our assistance. Your ongoing contributions are essential to the realization of our inclusive vision. Regardless of origin, identity, religion, or political affiliations, our commitment to providing respectful support remains steadfast. Your invaluable contributions are integral to the success of this journey, and we want to emphasize our unwavering availability for your needs. ''We are here for you''.

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Aurora university alliance: planning its joint future in Olomouc

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 08/11/2023 - 08:00

Palacký University successfully hosted the meeting of the European university alliance Aurora. For the first time ever, over 200 representatives of 18 universities met in Olomouc. During the three-day Aurora Olomouc Biannual 2023 meeting, the representatives focused mainly on their common direction in the future. During the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding and a Multilateral Aurora Mobility Agreement were also signed to facilitate the sharing of research infrastructure and provide a framework for exchange visits.

The key theme of the meeting was evaluation of Aurora’s work to date and of the impact of European universities on the future of higher education in Europe. The success of the recently completed pilot phase has secured financial support from the European Commission for the next four years. “The Olomouc Aurora Biannual Conference has successfully concluded the fundamental three-year period of joint work. Members of the management of the individual universities as well as their staff and students were able to meet, get to know each other, and debate together in Olomouc. In three discussion panels, we exchanged information with representatives of the European Commission and other alliances such as 4EU+ (Charles University in Prague), EDUC Alliance (Masaryk University in Brno), and Allianza 4 Universidades (an association of four Spanish universities) on strategic development, student affairs, and how to align education, research, and the third mission of universities – community service,” said Selma Porobić, the institutional coordinator of Aurora at UP.

The Aurora President, Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, also welcomed and introduced two new partners: Université Paris-Est Créteil (UPEC), which has gained full membership since the new phase, and the University of Minnesota, which is a global partner extending the network’s reach beyond Europe. “It was a special pleasure to welcome also the management, staff, and students of the four affiliated partner universities in Slovakia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and North Macedonia to the meeting,” added Porobić.

The new Multilateral Aurora Mobility Agreement (MAMA) will help to ensure that students and staff can easily take advantage of the universities’ offers across Europe – i.e., go on study and research stays. A Memorandum of Understanding on infrastructure and resource sharing has also been signed. Its purpose is to facilitate research collaboration within the consortium and to provide access for researchers and academics from the alliance to their partners’ shared resources.

The meeting also addressed sustainability, which was discussed in a separate panel, and inclusivity in higher education. This is the focus of the Aurora Student Council, whose members were welcomed in Olomouc by Hanuš Patera, a student of the UP Faculty of Arts, who was recently elected its president. “Sixteen of the eighteen members of the student council came to Olomouc. I am very proud of the students’ active involvement in the Biannual, it was very productive for us. Thanks to the joint meeting, we drafted a statement that more closely identifies the goals and direction of our student council and began working on a strategic plan of action. We also had our own student panel called “Toward Student-centered European University Alliances”. It allowed us to present the theme we are focusing on throughout this academic year, which is inclusive education. We drew the audience’s attention to certain deficiencies that individual universities have in this area. At Palacký University Olomouc, for example, this is the absence of any data on gender, socio-economic status, and origin in the student population,” said Patera.

The programme also included public workshops for teachers. They learned, among other things, how to teach in an international virtual classroom using the COIL method and how to use the LOUIS tool to develop students’ soft skills.

Participants of the Aurora Olomouc Biannual 2023 also visited various sites of Palacký University and the city of Olomouc. The newly renovated Red Church facility of the Olomouc Research Library hosted the welcome meeting, while the farewell meeting took place in the Archbishop’s Palace. Guided tours of the city and a visit to the Regional Museum in Olomouc that included networking were also prepared.

A recording of the plenary sessions and discussion panels was made and is available on YouTube (Day 1Day 2). A complete photo gallery is also available for download.

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Collaboration with Florida Tech in research grants and stays extended

News: Faculty of Science - Wed, 01/11/2023 - 08:21

New opportunities for cooperation between Palacký University Olomouc and the Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) in the United States have arisen from the meetings that Rector Martin Procházka attended during his trip overseas.

The Memorandum, signed together with his counterpart John Nicklow, President of Florida Tech, opens up further opportunities for participation in scientific research projects and joint grants, as well as facilitates the organisation of internships and summer schools for students of both universities.

“Florida Tech is not only involved in the development of the latest technologies in aerospace engineering, engine design, and advanced materials, but also conducts science and research in fields such as chemistry, physics, biology, and biomedicine, placing great emphasis on technology transfer. The collaboration opens up new opportunities for us, I’m sure we can learn a lot from our partners,” said Rector Procházka, who together with Vice-Rector for Science and Research Lucie Plíhalová and Vice-Rector for Internationalisation Jiří Stavovčík, toured the new state-of-the-art Gordon L. Nelson Research Centre for Health Sciences, which includes modern teaching laboratories where students are taught by means of augmented and virtual reality tools and advanced computer simulations.

The collaboration between the two universities has been occurring on a scientific basis for several years, and Florida Tech chemistry and chemical engineering professor Nasri Nesnas confirmed its benefits. “It was an immense pleasure to welcome the UP Rector and Vice Rectors to our campus and to discuss many important topics that we want to focus on in the future,” said Nesnas, adding that the mutual cooperation so far has focused on research internships for PhD students and researchers, which have resulted in joint publishing activities. A joint bilateral grant is currently being prepared.


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Gala Evening in Manhattan: Palacký University jubilee celebrated by UP alumni, partners, and diplomats

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 26/10/2023 - 16:52

Palacký University gave a presentation on the university town and region’s beauties, its exchange programmes for students and academics, cooperation with American partners, and much more at the Czech Center in New York City. The university also celebrated its 450th jubilee at the Czech National Home, also in Manhattan.

Representatives of UP, the City of Olomouc, and the Olomouc Region welcomed visitors interested in what the Olomouc region has to offer in the way of higher education and tourism in the historic Art Nouveau spaces of the Czech Center in NYC to the Open Door Day. The ceremonial gala evening featured a piano recital by David Kalhous and was attended by roughly one hundred guests from the USA and the Czech Republic.

“We presented our university in the context of traditional European universities which not only build upon their rich histories, but also have something to offer contemporary society in the way of education, research, and innovation for the years to come. Opportunities to take part in international study and work stays for our students and academics and for cooperation with international partners in Olomouc are an important prerequisite for us to achieve outstanding results. This is why developing partnerships with universities throughout Europe and also across the ocean is so important for us,” remarked UP Rector Martin Procházka, who met with successful UP alumni, representatives of partner universities, university benefactors, and Czech diplomats during the course of the ceremonial event at the Czech Center in NYC.

Part of the gala evening in NYC’s Czech National Home was to commemorate the late UP Rector Emeritus Prof Josef Jařab, the famous American Studies scholar, who helped develop cooperation between the University of Olomouc and American partners after the Velvet Revolution.

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Purring of cats is created differently than previously thought

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 16/10/2023 - 14:35

Cats produce their characteristic purring in a different way than experts have previously thought. While earlier theories attributed these low-frequency sounds to repeated nerve impulses and the subsequent contraction and relaxation of the vocal cords, an international team of experts has now discovered that the cat’s larynx is capable of producing low-frequency sounds on its own when air passes through it, without the need for nerve impulses. A special ‘cushion’ inside the vocal cords is responsible. The results of the research, which involved the Voice Research Laboratory at the Faculty of Science, have been published in the prestigious journal Current Biology.

Cats meow, caterwaul, and purr, and these sounds play an important role in their communication. In terms of voice production, meowing and caterwauling are nothing special. They originate in the cat’s larynx, or vocal cords, just like the sounds of humans and many other mammals. “In contrast, cats’ purring has long been considered exceptional. Half a century ago, scientists came to the conclusion that purring is produced by a special mechanism based on the cyclical contraction and relaxation of the vocal cord muscles inside the larynx, which would require cyclical excitations from the central nervous system,” said Jan Švec from the Department of Experimental Physics at the UP Faculty of Science.

However, the current study, led by the University of Vienna voice scientist and graduate of biophysics at the UP Faculty of Science Christian Herbst, has shown that cyclic muscle contractions are not necessary for cats’ purring. In fact, data from laboratory experiments have confirmed that the larynx of the domestic cat can produce impressively low sounds at the frequency of purring using a stream of air, without requiring any cyclical neural input or repeated muscle contractions. The observed sound production mechanism bears a striking resemblance to the human ‘vocal fry register’ that often occurs during speech.

“Anatomical research has revealed unique ‘cushions’ in the vocal cords of cats that probably contribute to the fact that an animal weighing only a few kilograms can easily produce sounds at incredibly low frequencies of around 20 to 30 Hz, which are more typical of huge animals such as elephants,” said Švec.

According to him, the results of the study are surprising, but they do not necessarily deny the possibility that cyclical nerve impulses were involved in the occurrence of purring in live cats observed in the past. “Theoretically, they may be combined with the purely biomechanical processes in the cat’s larynx observed now. The newly published results are a clear indicator that the current understanding of cats’ purring is incomplete and requires further research,” added Švec.

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Scientists propose a sustainable way of two-dimensional iron oxide production

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 16/10/2023 - 12:00

Researchers from Palacký University and VSB-TUO have unveiled an environmentally-friendly method for the production of hematene, a two-dimensional material derived from the iron ore. Their groundbreaking work, featured in Applied Materials Today, paves the way for sustainable applications in clean energy and environmental technologies, garnering the prestigious cover-page position in the journal.

Hematene is a relatively young material with intriguing electrochemical and photocatalytic properties that position it favourably for a variety of technological applications. Notably, it holds promise in applications such as the photocatalytic decomposition of ammonia to generate hydrogen, a sustainable and clean fuel source. However, the existing approaches used to produce hematene are not very environmentally friendly as they use toxic organic solvents.

“In this groundbreaking study, we introduce an ecologically responsible method for synthesizing 2D hematene through the exfoliation of readily available iron oxide in a pure aqueous solution, aided by ultrasound. The resulting hematene layers are only a few nanometers thick and exhibit exceptional electrochemical properties in the field of charge transfer, rendering them well-suited for photocatalytic applications. This pioneering approach not only unlocks the potential for sustainable production of various 2D materials based on metal oxides but also underscores the use of layered minerals and water as primary feedstocks, with ultrasound as the energy source for facilitating chemical exfoliation,” said Radek Zbořil, Head of Materials-Envi Lab at VSB-TUO and Scientific Director of CATRIN-RCPTM.  

Adding a new dimension to the findings, the researchers discovered that introducing ruthenium to a conductive hematene substrate yields a remarkable synergistic effect in the generation of electrons and holes, particularly when exposed to visible light. “This innovation enabled the efficient breakdown of ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen, an important reaction for hydrogen storage technologies. The application of ruthenium-doped hematene as an environmentally friendly photocatalyst holds significant promise in the development of clean energy production and storage technologies,” emphasized Michal Otyepka, a co-author of the study and Head of CATRIN-RCPTM, Olomouc, and NANO Lab at IT4Innovations in Ostrava.

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Rector Martin Procházka met with Israeli students to promise maximum support

News: Faculty of Science - Thu, 12/10/2023 - 13:40

Four dozen Israeli students met yesterday with UP Rector Martin Procházka in the Olomouc Jewish Community’s premises. The UP rector initiated the meeting on account of the current war in the Middle East, which is directly affecting young Israeli students studying medicine and healthcare at the university. During the course of the hour-long discussion, a number of questions arose concerning studies at UP and the possibilities of giving aid to Israel. The rector assured students that they can count on maximum support and understanding from UP and their individual faculties.

“We feel the difficult situation into which you and your loved ones have been placed, even though it may be beyond our imaginations. For you, this meeting must be quite emotional. We have gone through something similar a year and a half ago with our students from Ukraine. You are among our best students, and I promise to do everything we can to help and support you,” Procházka remarked during the meeting.

In attendance were also Petr Papoušek, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic; Josef Suchánek, President of the Olomouc Region; Milan Raška and Jarmila Zimmermannová, Vice-Deans for International Relations at the Faculties of Medicine & Dentistry and Health Sciences, respectively; and Petra Gaul Aláčová and Katarína Sarvašová, members of the UP Academic Senate. All promised help and support.

Students at the meeting had difficultly holding back tears, asking for sensitivity on the part of teachers in the coming days and weeks. “We all have someone near and dear to us who was injured, or even killed. I myself have lost two very close friends. We’re asking our teachers to please do their best to understand our situation. We will do our best to satisfy our study requirements, but at present it is indeed difficult to concentrate on our studies,” said Omer Kahlon, a senior in Medicine & Dentistry, at the meeting.

UP FMD Vice-Dean Raška said the faculty is ready to help its students. “Each of you is in a specific situation, and it is hard to imagine at present how the situation will evolve. Nonetheless, we are here for you, and ready to listen to your needs. Do not hesitate to ask for help; we will do whatever we can,” he assured.

Representatives from both faculties reminded students that psychological counselling is available for them. At the same time, they appealed to the students not to remain isolated with their emotions and problems; rather to share their feelings with their colleagues and/or look for help from their faculties. Several times during the session the students expressed their thanks for the university’s support, as well as that of the individual faculties and the Olomouc Jewish Community.

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Scientists introduce unprecedented and highly creative approach to amide synthesis

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 10/10/2023 - 12:00

New possibilities for the design of new amides, substances ubiquitous in the world of organic compounds, have been proposed by scientists from the Czech Advanced Technology and Research Institute (CATRIN) and the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine of Palacký University in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Thanks to a revolutionary method that uses the unique properties of isocyanides, they have overcome the existing boundaries of amide synthesis and opened up new possibilities in organic chemistry. The study was recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

Amides are found in peptides, proteins, drugs, and various functional materials. Traditionally, they are synthesized almost exclusively by coupling carboxylic acids and amines through ‘non-green, unsustainable’ routes. Now, however, scientists are offering a surprising and complementary method, added to chemists’ tool box. Based on 30 years of experience in isocyanide chemistry, world-renowned researcher Alexander Dömling used the power of isocyanides to create a novel three-component reaction.

“This reaction involves isocyanides, alkyl halides and water, leading to the rapid formation of very valuable amides. What makes this method truly remarkable is the scope and versatility it offers. We have demonstrated that it can be applied to a wide range of substrates, including alkyl halides with different leaving groups, various isocyanides and even complex heterocyclic structures. The possibilities are almost endless, allowing the synthesis of diverse and complex compounds that were previously considered challenging or impractical or were based on expensive or unavailable building blocks,” said Professor Dömling.

According to the authors, this innovative synthesis of amides is not only efficient, but also sustainable. It uses readily available and cost-effective starting materials, making it a practical choice for both academic research and industrial applications. “Scaling up the reaction to gram-scale production has already been successfully achieved, demonstrating its robustness and potential for large-scale synthesis,” said Pravin Patil, a co-author of the publication. 

Furthermore, this method opens the door to late-stage functionalization of drug molecules, providing a valuable tool for pharmaceutical research and development. By repurposing alkyl halides, researchers can easily introduce new functionalities into existing drug candidates, potentially leading to the discovery of more effective and potent medications.

“This breakthrough is not just another scientific achievement—it’s a gateway to a world of possibilities in chemistry and beyond,” added Dömling. This leading scientist is now assembling an international team in Olomouc thanks to the ERA Chair ACCELERATOR project, which aims to contribute to sustainable chemistry and more efficient development of new drugs, nanomaterials or plant protection agents or biostimulants using miniaturization and automation.  

Isocyanides are organic compounds with a functional group consisting of a nitrogen atom that is coupled to a carbon atom through a single bond and to another carbon through a triple bond. They are important functional groups in organic chemistry and have a wide range of applications in both laboratory environments and industry.

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How is China perceived by its neighbours? Research brings crucial data for European policymakers

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 09/10/2023 - 15:51

An international research team led by Palacký University Olomouc has completed research on the global impact of China from the perspectives of the cultures of Taiwan, Russia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and others. The findings of the prestigious five-year research conducted in the project Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Edges will be of great significance for European policymakers.

Issues such as political events, Chinese civic society, Chinese artistic production, and the influence of Chinese culture and politics abroad were addressed by the international research team in the five-year project Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Edges. In order to support the research on these topics, a specialised laboratory was established at Palacký University Olomouc (UP) for researchers to investigate the language and material culture via computer analysis, to study minority languages and how Chinese has influenced them, as well as to research the transformation of artistic traditions, agricultural production, and the cultural and political influence of China in Central Asia. The international team, which included scholars from the UP Faculty of Arts, also analysed the tensions between the processes of economic competition and cooperation, and the migration trends between China and the outside world.

“Our research centre employs scientists and academics from all over the world. As direct research on China is becoming increasingly difficult for many reasons, we are applying a completely new concept, researching China from the outside. Thus, we focus on the interactions in the borderlands of the Sinophone world – both in China’s peripheral regions and in Chinese diasporas around the world. These interactions provide a unique and at the same time novel perspective on China and its cultural, political, and socio-economic system,” said Jiří Luňáček, project manager from the Department of Asian Studies at the UP Faculty of Arts, on behalf of the project team.

According to him, the now-published research findings point out how the People’s Republic of China is expanding its influence through international institutions, development projects, and investments, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, while also showing how its cultural, political, and economic influence is perceived and accepted.

“China has clear regional priorities that are logically beneficial to none but China itself. If some of China’s priorities are also beneficial to its partners, close cooperation may appear to be beneficial. However, this situation is always temporary – until the Chinese priorities change,” emphasised Luňáček.

The researchers quote global opinion polls showing that in most countries, China’s popularity lags behind the United States and other Western countries.

“Out of the fifty-six countries surveyed, China is preferred only in Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, and Bangladesh. However, there are a large number of countries that do not want to choose between China and the US, perceiving both countries similarly. This is true of much of Southeast Asia; i.e., countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. So it cannot be said that China has the world on its side, but at the same time it is not true that China is perceived significantly negatively. Negative perceptions of China are almost exclusively characteristic of Western countries and their allies, such as South Korea and Japan. Moreover, South Korea is the country that has the most negative attitude towards China, seeing China as a source of pollution. The paradox is that China is certainly responsible for some of the pollution, but South Korean society probably blames China more than experts do. This information is crucial for the European Union, including the Czech Republic, which does not have a clearly defined long-term strategy in their relationships with China, oscillating between unbridled optimism and scepticism. Besides, in the global context, public opinion is very negative towards China,” said Richard Turcsányi, a key researcher in the project.

The research results of this prestigious project, supplemented with data collected directly in the countries studied, are supported by extensive public opinion surveys. The researchers have collaborated with the Central European Institute of Asian Studies in many parts of Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas. 

“Although China itself is closed to many forms of research, a careful examination of its surroundings shows that its authoritarian regime combined with capitalism is an effective force transforming its neighbouring environment economically and socially – for example, through major investments in Central Asia and infrastructure construction in Southeast and South Asia, or disputes over the South China Sea, a key trade route on which the economies of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and other countries depend. China is becoming an increasingly assertive global player, working with Russia to reshape the international order,” added Turcsányi.

Experts from the UP Faculty of Arts have established research cooperation with leading world institutions specialising in research on China and its surroundings. The data that emerged from the impressive five-year research were presented to the representatives of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as reported in the European Parliament and the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which operates under the auspices of the EU and NATO. As part of their research, they have made more than 240 trips abroad to roughly 40 countries around the world, and have published more than a hundred articles, papers, and chapters in several books. They have organised a series of workshops, lectures, and training sessions, featuring more than 385 experts from all over the world. They have presented their findings at numerous international conferences. 

The research project of the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education, in the Excellence in Research call, entitled Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Margins, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, was carried out at the Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, Palacký University Olomouc, in 2018–2023. Its aim was to introduce a unique concept of the Sinophone world based on interregional dialogue, thus providing a new perspective on the global implications of China’s rise. Read more about the project here.

This unique project will probably be followed by others, as project manager Luňáček says: “We have been granted more than ten follow-up projects, seven of which are supported by the Horizon Europe funding programme. In these, we will focus on the trade in medicinal substances in Mongolia, on human rights in Myanmar, on the political and economic influence of the People’s Republic of China in Europe, and on the perception of life in the environment of various types of Covid-19-like viruses. In all cases, our research will again be conducted through an indirect method; i.e., investigating the influence of China in its surroundings.”

Categories: News from UP

UP offers to help its Israeli colleagues

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 09/10/2023 - 15:05

The conflict in the Middle East, which has erupted after the terrorist attacks on the south of Israel, also affects Palacký University and the Israeli students, teachers, and scientists who study and work in Olomouc. The university is offering them its maximum possible support and help.

“On behalf of the university, I would like to express support for all our Israeli students and colleagues whose country is facing an unprecedented terrorist attack. This is now the second time in a short period when members of our academic community have had to face an armed conflict in their country: first Ukraine, and now Israel. We also send our thoughts to our partners in Israel, with whom we have been recently developing international cooperation in the areas of education, science, and research. We are prepared to help them with anything that is in our powers and abilities. At the same time, we would like to express our solidarity with the people in Israel, the universities there, and their students and employees,” said UP Rector Martin Procházka.

According to him, it is important for the university that the conflict in the Middle East does not spill over onto our campus. “We will not tolerate any expressions of hatred toward any national or ethnic groups or individuals – just as when Ukraine was invaded by Russia. We are all members of a large university family, and I am certain that the adults who come here to study and work make their studies and jobs their priority. Such conflicts between ethnic, religious, or other groups have no place at our university,” added the rector.

The UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry has for example some 80 students from Israel, primarily in the General Medicine programme. Some have already received conscription orders to defend their country. “Faculty management condemns the terrorist attacks and violence perpetrated on Israeli citizens and will try to help Israeli students to the best of our abilities in this complicated situation,” said UP FMD Dean Milan Kolář. His announcement, published by the faculty, is available here.

Meanwhile five Israel students have revealed that they have been ordered back and must return to their country as soon as possible. “We decided with them that for the time being it is not necessary to take a formal leave of absence from their studies, as they have no idea when they might be returning to our faculty. We want to accommodate them as much as possible. Of course, we are prepared to help them with other things, for example psychological support, because the situation with their relatives must be truly complicated at this time,” added UP FMD Vice-Dean for International Relations Milan Raška.

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THE Rankings 20th anniversary: UP returns to top 1000 global universities

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 02/10/2023 - 12:00

Palacký University Olomouc has improved its position in the updated 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, ranking 801st to 1000th, thus returning to the top 1000 universities in the world and being again ranked third in the Czech Republic. What is more, UP has improved its score in almost all indicators. Despite the partial improvements, the university needs to work on its reputation (academic and scientific) and multi-source funding (specifically from industry).

A total of 18 Czech universities have been ranked in 2024 THE World University Rankings, whereas only four of them are among the top 1000 universities in the world. Palacký University shares the third position with the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, with only Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno ahead of them.

This year’s jubilee edition of the 2024 THE World University Rankings has introduced a relatively significant update of its methodology (the last one was in 2011), increasing the number of evaluation indicators from the original 13 to the current 18. Domestic universities have coped very well with the change in methodology, with seven of them (including Olomouc’s university) improving their position.

Under the original methodology, all five key areas were retained, but three of them were renamed. The biggest changes have been made to Research Quality, where three new metrics (Research Strength, Research Excellence, and Research Influence) have been added to the original one (Citation Impact). For the first time, patents are also rated in the rankings, reflecting the extent to which a university’s research is cited in this segment. Another novelty this year is the Study Abroad metric, which however still carries zero weight (due to the pandemic situation in 2020–2021). The last major change is the normalisation of the three metrics in the International Outlook area, where the population of a given country is now taken into consideration.

The complete results of 2024 THE World University Rankings can be found here.


QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024

In late September, the results of the brand new QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024 were also published, in which Palacký University was ranked 219th out of 688 ranked universities. It was ranked 9th in Eastern Europe.

QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024 compares European universities from 42 member countries of the Council of Europe across 12 categories focusing on research quality, employment outcomes, study and teaching conditions, global engagement, and sustainability.

Palacký University performed best in the indicator Outbound Exchange Students, where it ranked 42nd overall and 3rd domestically. In the comparison of domestic universities, UP ranked even better in the categories International Faculty Ratio and Citations per Faculty, where it holds 2nd place among Czech universities. On the other hand, UP ranked 10th in the domestic comparison in the Faculty Student Ratio and in Inbound Exchange Students. These are areas that need to be worked on.

QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024 has listed the rankings of 688 institutions, 17 of which were from the Czech Republic. As this is the first year the rankings have been published, it is not possible to compare any rise or decline. However, it is already clear that Palacký University’s goal is to move up in the rankings and thus be among the top 3 Czech universities, as is the case with other rankings.

According to the rankings, the European number one is the University of Oxford, while for Eastern Europe it is the Czech Charles University. Five Czech universities altogether were among the top 10 universities in Eastern Europe, along with three Polish and two Hungarian universities.

The QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024 can be found here.

“The results in both the 2024 THE World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024 show not only the strengths but also the weaknesses of Palacký University, which need to be worked on so that UP improves in the future not only in terms of university rankings. This has been facilitated by UP’s strategy for international university rankings, which focuses on its areas for improvement in the rankings and is set accordingly as the current results have shown,” said Michal Malacka, UP Vice-Rector for Strategy and Regional Affairs.

Categories: News from UP

Exhibition on UP’s history moves from Iowa to Manhattan

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 26/09/2023 - 15:45

Overseas compatriots and admirers of European history and traditions can visit the exhibition of Palacký University Olomouc at the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library (NCSML) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA until mid-October. The opening of the exhibition on the 450th anniversary of the second oldest university in the Czech lands was attended by distinguished guests. At the end of October, Palacký University will also be presented in Manhattan, as the exhibition on its rich history will be part of a gala evening held at the Czech Centre New York.

“In Cedar Rapids, several thousand visitors will be able to see the exhibition on the history and present of our university during the month, as the museum is one of the three most visited historical sites in Iowa. At the opening, it was obvious that there was great interest in our presentation, as the almost five-hundred-year-long history of our alma mater is something beyond the imagination of most Americans,” noted Jiří Stavovčík, UP Vice-Rector for Internationalisation.

Members of the Board of Trustees of the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library were in attendance, as was Prof James Grove, who has a long association with UP. “One of the nicest moments was when Thomas Feld, President Emeritus of Mount Mercy University, recalled the three visits of our Rector Emeritus and renowned Americanist Josef Jařab to Cedar Rapids and the long conversations they had. It was also nice that one of our students, who is studying physics at Coe Collage in Cedar Rapids, came to the opening,” added Vice-Rector Stavovčík.

The presentation of the university’s jubilee will take place on 22 October at the Bohemian National Hall in New York, where the official guests will include Arnošt Kareš, Consul General of the Czech Republic in New York, and Martin Procházka, UP Rector, alongside Miroslav Konvalina, Director of the New York Czech Center. The evening will include a piano recital by Jan Bartoš, a renowned Czech pianist, talks with Cecilia Rokusek, president of the NCSML, and Bohdan Pomahač, a Czech plastic surgeon working in the USA and a graduate of UP’s medical faculty. The programme will also include a presentation on the Olomouc Region and the City of Olomouc.

More information about the event can be found on the Czech Center New York’s website.

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New research clearly shows Czech teachers say AI has its place in schools

News: Faculty of Science - Tue, 26/09/2023 - 08:00

Artificial intelligence at present is seeping into almost all possible fields, including education. But how is AI seen by teachers, who are currently discussing what attitude to take towards the “helpers” ChatGPT and Bing Chat? Their attitudes have been mapped by an extensive study by experts from Palacký University and Microsoft Czech Republic & Slovakia.

The study, in which 2175 teachers took part, maps the views of teachers on AI in schools and its impact on educating Czech schoolchildren. It offers a look behind the scenes into the current situation at Czech schools.

“Opinions on the use of artificial intelligence among teachers and school administrators differ immensely, which is consequently projected into quite different approaches to instruction and everyday work with students. Schools also differ in the rules they establish for using artificial intelligence. It is obvious that discussions on which ways AI will influence Czech schooling in the future and which new demands it will put upon pupils and teachers will certainly be a hot topic in the coming months. We believe that this research will contribute to a positive and unified transformation in Czech schooling,” said Kamil Kopecký of the UP Faculty of Education, on behalf of the research team.

Academics were mainly interested in three questions, attempting to find answers as to what opinions teachers have on AI and its expansion, on how Czech teachers are prepared to implement AI into schools, and which AI tools they use and how.

Is humanity ready for AI?

Artificial intelligence is a theme which evokes a positive response by teachers on one hand, and fears on the other.

“This disparity is evident from the results of our study. While 35% of teachers fear AI, a comparable 30% have the opposite opinion, not seeing it as a threat. In total, 45.5% of respondents consider AI as a positive tool for future development. On the other hand, almost one-half (47%) of respondents believe that the use of AI will lead to laziness in thinking,” said Kopecký. The results also found that Czech teachers think that the spread of AI is too premature. Six out of every ten respondents agree with the statement that humanity is not ready for the mass roll-out of AI.

AI belongs in schools!

The question as to whether AI should be part of the school environment was answered decisively. A total of 56% think that AI belongs in schools, while only 19% disagreed. “It shows that despite the above-mentioned fears, teachers have an open mind on this trend. They want to go with the times. Teachers do see negative aspects, in that students can use AI dishonestly in their homework. Almost one-half of respondents (47%) agree with the statement that AI can be used by students to cheat,” added Kopecký.

Violeta Luca, General Manager of Microsoft Czech Republic & Slovakia, also weighed in on AI in schools, saying that we ought not to perceive artificial intelligence as a tool which will do our jobs for us. “This is a valuable technology which we can use in schools to our benefit. The new technology could, for example, give every pupil their own personal ‘teaching assistant’, tailored to their needs. We are all different, some of us understand things better and are able to learn quickly; others not. And it is this individual approach to each pupil where artificial intelligence can help,” she said.

Old faces, new skills

The vast majority of respondents (82%) are convinced that artificial intelligence will require teachers to acquire new knowledge and skills in terms of teaching. The results of the research also showed that teachers think that the application of AI will transform their job (83%). On the other hand, 78% do not believe that teachers will be replaced by artificial intelligence.

Nearly a third of Czech teachers are already using artificial intelligence in various aspects of their profession. Most often it is used to generate texts for teaching (25%), in translations (20%), and in preparing tests (16.5%). In terms of specific tools, the one teachers use most often is ChatGPT (36%).

“Artificial intelligence is not a theme of the past few months, but years. With the advent of generative language models, Czech schools and teachers have become conscious of AI and so conducting the first extensive Czech research on AI in schools became a priority for us. Our goal is to show how artificial intelligence can help children develop critical thinking and creative expression and how it can help teachers to develop new ways to capture children’s attention. We are teaching teachers how to use artificial intelligence in order to rid them of administrative and repetitive tasks, and also how they can tell whether pupils are using content generated by artificial intelligence in a responsible manner,” concluded Karel Klatovský, an education and Internet safety expert at Microsoft Czech Republic & Slovakia.

2175 teachers took part in the research, from throughout the whole of the Czech Republic. The average age of the respondents was 46.5. Eighty-five percent of the sample was made up of teachers from elementary and secondary schools. Data gathering took place from 25 April to 30 June. The study results can be downloaded here.

Categories: News from UP

UP Žurnál special issue celebrates the anniversary of university’s foundation

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 22/09/2023 - 11:21

We are celebrating 450 years since the foundation of the university in Olomouc. We look back to the past, witness the present, and make plans for the future. And that is exactly what our special issue of UP Žurnál is about: we present the university to the general public as an inspiring place worth getting to know and seeing for yourself.

For those who come to the university every day to study or work, the sight of the amazing historical scenery may have lost its novelty. However, for any new visitor, a tour of the Convictorium, the Armoury Library, and other places is a spectacular experience. And there are quite a few such places worth seeing that are open to the public, and that’s why they are presented in our journal. The transformations of our alma mater are captured in photographs. Human memory is short, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

We also show how we work with the legacy of the most ancient past. In the interview with artist Jaro Varga, you will learn how he drew inspiration from the Jesuits and why and how he “returned” them to the university. By the way, we are using his fusion of the past and the present on the cover.

Speaking of the Jesuit College, we cannot leave out our modern university, named after František Palacký. How do we work with his legacy (and even his profile) in the jubilee year? Find out in the Žurnál’s special issue.

What would the university be without people? They make university what it is. And so we have dedicated several pages to articles on interesting alumni and honorary doctors, including two series of interviews with students and staff who share with our readers what Palacký University means to them.

In this special issue, we have tried to show the public the less common face of this impressive and respectable institution – so that visitors and casual passers-by will know what it has been through and what it is UP to. And that even if they don’t study or work there, it can still be a meeting place for them. Simply said, we, the university and its people, are worth getting to know. As Rector Martin Procházka says in his interview, “The university is full of smart, hardworking, talented people. Many of them recognised authorities in their fields, active in various areas of social life. I’m proud that they attach the name of Palacký University to their own.”

Read the electronic version of the magazine.

Categories: News from UP

UP Rector Procházka: Welcome to the new academic year

News: Faculty of Science - Mon, 18/09/2023 - 12:15

Dear Students, Dear Colleagues,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the new academic year. On this opportunity, I would like to wish you every success in your studies and work, bountiful energy for all your daily duties, and a great deal of enthusiasm and desire to keep exploring, discovering, and learning new things. I wish you to experience the pleasure of interesting encounters with inspiring people at our university, which can make for the most enjoyable and meaningful moments there are.

I hope that you have had a happy summer, that you are well-rested and have gained new strength that can be put to good use in the coming months. After the summer holidays and vacations, Olomouc is once again alive with the bustle of a true university town, which it has been for 450 years. Since January, we have been commemorating the anniversary of our university with a series of events, and more are yet to come before the end of the calendar year.

The nearest one is the traditional MEET UP event, held on the new Olomouc embankment, and named after Prof Josef Jařab, our first post-communist rector. I look forward to meeting you there. It is also an opportunity to welcome the first-year students, whom I wish to get their footing soon, and get involved in university life.

I would also like to mention that the Opening Ceremony of academic year 2023/2024 for Czech universities will be held at UP at the beginning of October. It is a great honour and opportunity for our university, and I’m pleased that we’ll be able to welcome many distinguished guests on our campus, not only from the academic sphere.

I wish you all the best for the new academic year and look forward to all the meetings that await us in its course.

Martin Procházka

Rector of Palacký University Olomouc

Categories: News from UP

Exhibition at the Regional Museum in Olomouc reveals the colourful world of rocks

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 15/09/2023 - 12:00

Rocks are part of the Earth’s crust, usually composed of several types of minerals, and their composition cannot be expressed by a chemical formula. On closer examination, however, they offer a wondrous spectacle. The colourful world of petrology is presented in the exhibition “Stones under the Microscope”, which was prepared at the Regional Museum in Olomouc by Martin Kováček, a graduate of Environmental Geology, together with Tomáš Lehotský from the Department of Geology; both also work at the Regional Museum. The exhibition is on display until 7 January 2024.

“To the casual observer, the rocks may appear monotonous, grey, dead and utterly uninteresting. An experienced geologist can use the minerals visible to the eye as a guide as to what kind of rock it is. But the most accurate way to determine this is under a microscope. Even an ordinary stone can hide a whole colourful universe of minerals that cannot be seen by the naked eye,” said Kováček, curator of the exhibition.

In the Mendel Hall of the museum, all basic types of rocks are exhibited – igneous or magmatic (i.e., intrusive and extrusive), metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. “From the igneous rocks, visitors can compare a sample and its microscopic specimen from gabbro, granite, pegmatite, and basalt; from the metamorphic rocks, a clast or gneiss will certainly catch the eye; and from the sedimentary rocks, for example, a Tertiary biogenic limestone full of microfossils. These are the basic rock types found in our territory. The stalactite section, with characteristic concentric incremental layers of calcite, is also interesting,” added Lehotský.

The exhibition also has an educational character. Thanks to its self-study programme, it is suitable for families with children and school excursions. With the help of a simple interactive application, they can try working with the microscope. “Among the highlights we have prepared for visitors are the now historic Meopta polarizing microscope and the goniometer for measuring axial angles in crystallography. The exhibition is complemented by large-format prints of microscopic slides, which have an artistic character,” said Kováček, inviting visitors to come and see the most interesting things of the exhibition for themselves.

Categories: News from UP

I'm targeting scholars specializing in Hollywood and classic film fans

News: Faculty of Science - Fri, 15/09/2023 - 08:00

While most of the information in the recently published monography by Milan Hain, the head of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University, is directed towards the academic community, it also offers something to the general readership. In the book titled "Starmaker: David O. Selznick and the Production of Stars in the Hollywood Studio System," published by the University Press of Mississippi, you will find exciting information about how famous personalities such as Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, and Jennifer Jones made their mark in Hollywood.

Milan Hain, a film historian and educator at the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University, came to explore the world of David O. Selznick due to his longstanding interest in American cinema, specifically during the classical Hollywood era when the American film producer and founder of Selznick International Pictures shone brightly.
"Two years ago, the Czech version of this book was published by Casablanca Publishers. I am delighted that we have now been able to release it in English and in an adapted form by the University Press of Mississippi. From the beginning, I aimed this publication at an international audience, hoping to find readers among experts and researchers specializing in Hollywood studios, as well as among classic film enthusiasts. Selznick was one of the most significant figures in the American film industry, primarily known for producing 'Gone with the Wind,' for which he won an Oscar for Best Picture. Despite several publications about him, I was surprised that no one had delved into his star-making business in detail," Milan Hain stated.

The cover of the English version of Hain's new monograph features a photograph of David O. Selznick and Vivien Leigh during the filming of 'Gone with the Wind.' Inside the book, readers will find thirty-five black-and-white illustrations, including reproductions of archival materials. The new publication differs in some details from the Czech version. It does not include a subchapter devoted to star studies and the essential characteristics of the Hollywood star system.

"I assume that foreign readers are already familiar with these aspects. On the other hand, I have added and expanded certain passages in the book, particularly based on input from two anonymous reviewers," added Milan Hain. In 2015, he spent a month at the Harry Ransom Centre in Texas, where the archive of Selznick's production company is housed, and according to Hain, this stay was the initiating moment that eventually led him to publish the monograph.

The new book, "Starmaker: David O. Selznick and the Production of Stars in the Hollywood Studio System," is intended for experts and the public interested in the American industry and the Hollywood star system. Academic readers may be interested in how the author seeks to expand existing discussions about stars and stardom, focusing mainly on the processes associated with developing and promoting film stars in the market.

"I am pleased that the book is being published in English because the greatest interest in this topic is expected abroad, especially in the United States, but also in countries like the United Kingdom and France," clarified the film historian, whose pedagogical work primarily revolves around the history of American cinema and film analysis. He devoted himself intensively to the work on his new book since the beginning of 2017, when he received support from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic for research and publication.

The book is available for purchase from the publisher and can also be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is also available as an e-book.
Mgr. Milan Hain, Ph.D., the head of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University focuses primarily on the history of American cinema and film analysis in his pedagogical activities. He regularly organizes a four-semester lecture series in which he provides students with a detailed overview of the development of the American film industry from the advent of sound to the late 80s and 90s. Starting from the academic year 2015/2016, he has also been conducting lectures and seminars in the English language. For his Czech edition of the scholarly book titled "In the Tradition of Quality and Prestige: David O. Selznick and the Production of Stars in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s," he received an honorary mention from the rector of Palacký University. He also received the same recognition in 2015 for his book titled "Hugo Haas and His (American) Films." Milan Hain is a member of several associations and societies. He views film studies as a rich field that intersects with and influences other disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.

Categories: News from UP