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Palacký University Olomouc News
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UP Žurnál special issue celebrates the anniversary of university’s foundation

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

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

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn receives honorary doctorate at UP

Tue, 12/09/2023 - 08:00

Upon the proposal of the Scholarly Board of the Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology (CMFT), Palacký University Olomouc has awarded the honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa to one of the most important theologians of the late 20th and early 21st century, Archbishop of Vienna and Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, who also contributed to the renewal of academic theological studies in the Czech Republic after 1989. He received the honorary doctorate during a ceremony at the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc as part of the celebrations of this year’s 450th anniversary of the foundation of university in Olomouc.

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, who is a prominent figure beyond the borders of Austrian clerical and social life, was introduced to those present by UP CMFT Dean Vít Hušek, who emphasised especially his merits in the preparation of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, when together with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) he prepared a short version of the Catechism; and under Schönborn’s leadership, a shortened text for the younger generation was also created. “It is often said that proper theology should end on one’s knees, but looking at Schönborn’s work one wants to add that it also ends in service to others, in an honest and laborious interpretation of the faith provided for the general public. This is evidenced by the interviews with him, which have already been published several times in book form: it is a manifestation of his effort to bring Christianity and its theological science to a wider audience,” said Dean Hušek.

He also highlighted his relations with Olomouc. The cardinal is known for his support of theological studies in the country, especially within the Dominican Order, with whose Olomouc convent he has worked closely. He also supported the work of the UP CMFT emeritus professor František X. Halas on the Czech translation of the Jerusalem Bible. And he has lectured at Olomouc’s theological faculty in the past, and to this day he is still connected with it both professionally and through friendships. “By honouring him, by honouring a member of a family that was expulsed from our country at the end of World War II, we will hopefully contribute a little to the process of reconciliation with our past,” added Dean Hušek.

 “I am particularly pleased that Palacký University is awarding Christoph Cardinal Schönborn the title of Doctor Honoris Causa in the year in which we commemorate the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the University of Olomouc. After all, the origins of the second oldest university in the lands of the Bohemian Crown, as well as the continuity of higher learning in Olomouc over the centuries, are linked to learning in the field of theology. Your Eminence, let me wish you much energy, health, and success in your future work,” said UP Rector Martin Procházka, who together with the Vice-Rector for Science and Research, Lucie Plíhalová, awarded the honorary doctorate in the form of a diploma and a commemorative medal to the cardinal.

Cardinal Schönborn appreciated the honorary degree as a very moving gesture, not only on a personal level, but also for the Czech Republic, Austria, and the Catholic Church in both countries. “Such an award is always also a commitment for the recipient and a bond between the donor and the recipient,” he said at the beginning of his speech, dedicated to his personal and family history connected with the Czech Republic and especially the topic of freedom in the context of Czech-German relations in the past as well as in the context of current crises and wars.

 “When the large wave of refugees flooded Austria and Germany in 2015, my mother, who was 95 years old at the time, gave a television interview. Her statement moved many people: ‘No one leaves their home voluntarily!’” he recalled, adding that the countries where refugees flee war, dictatorship, and famine show exactly what most people understand by ‘freedom’: security, normal living conditions, a future for their own family, freedom of religion, the pursuit of happiness.

 “Why is Europe the destination of so many refugees today? There is no other reason than the one that drove my mother to flee with her two children to Austria in 1945. I am grateful to God with all my heart that today no one flees from a united Europe for the same reasons. I hope that we are all gratefully aware that such a situation in Europe is by no means self-evident. Therefore, I thank Olomouc’s university from the bottom of my heart for the grand award of an honorary doctorate,” said the cardinal in the conclusion of his speech at the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc.

By being awarded the honorary degree by UP, Cardinal Schönborn has joined the ranks of personalities such as Václav Havel, the former Czech and Czechoslovak President; Charles Merrill, UP benefactor and founder of a programme enabling Czech and Slovak students to study in the USA; chemist Antonín Holý; plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahač; and Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík, who were awarded honorary doctorates by Palacký University after 1990 for their contributions to the development of science, culture, and other activities for the benefit of society and humanity. A list of all UP honorary doctors is available here.

Christoph Schönborn was born on 22 January 1945 in the castle Skalka near Vlastislav in the Litoměřice region. He comes from the Czech branch of an aristocratic family whose members were politicians, patrons, and clergymen in the Czech lands for more than 150 years. After World War II, the family settled in Austria, where Christoph Schönborn entered the Dominican Order after graduating from secondary school.

He studied at the University of Vienna and in Paris, was ordained a priest in 1970, received his licentiate in theology a year later, and successfully completed his doctoral studies in 1974. He then became professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He also taught the theology of the Christian East. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, he became involved in the renewal of academic life in Catholic theology, was the first foreign lecturer at the theological faculty in Litoměřice, and lectured in Brno and Olomouc. His academic career ended with his appointment as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Vienna in 1991, and four years later he became its head as archbishop, which he remains to this day. In 1998 Pope John Paul II appointed him Cardinal-Priest of the titular church of Gesù Divino Lavoratore. He was President of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference from 1998 to 2020, and has also held various positions in Vatican offices.

Cardinal Schönborn is the author of some twenty monographs, numerous scholarly articles, and chapters in collections and books, written in many languages, many of which have also been translated. His research focuses on Christology viewed from a patrological perspective, as is evident in his early work on Sophronius of Jerusalem or in his doctoral thesis on the theology of the Icon of Christ.

Categories: News from UP

Huge auditorium and state-of-the-art simulators: UP constructs new building for future healthcare professionals

Wed, 06/09/2023 - 14:00

The construction of a new building for the education of UP Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and Faculty of Health Sciences students was inaugurated with a symbolic tap on its heart-shaped cornerstone. The modern and distinct building in Hněvotínská Street will have a lecture hall for nearly 400 people, facilities for practical training of future doctors and health professionals on state-of-the-art simulators, and a canteen that can serve 2000 diners a day. Construction work is expected to be completed in early 2026.

In front of the historical building of the Theoretical Institutes, which has been used to educate future doctors and health professionals since the 1960s, a neurological reflex hammer was used to tap the foundation stone of the new building by Deputy Minister of Education Jaroslav Miller, Senator Lumír Kantor, Governor of the Olomouc Region Josef Suchánek, Mayor of Olomouc Miroslav Žbánek, and Ondřej Foukal on behalf of the construction contractor, Gemo company, in addition to representatives of Palacký University Olomouc. Then Bishop Josef Nuzík blessed the new building.

 “It is obvious that the social demand for quality doctors and health professionals has been high for a long time, and it has quite understandably increased after the Covid pandemic. I am therefore very glad that we are paying maximum attention to the education of future professionals for the health sector and that we are further improving the conditions for their theoretical studies and professional training. From the point of view of the future of top-quality health care in the Czech Republic, this is of the greatest importance,” said UP Rector Martin Procházka. As he also noted, he is himself a proud graduate of the medical faculty in Olomouc, has been working as a doctor at University Hospital Olomouc for many years, and was Dean of the UP Faculty of Health Sciences before becoming university rector.


“I am therefore very well-acquainted with the needs of our students as well as with practice in the hospital. Moreover, healthcare is not only my lifelong profession but also my love. I am confident that we will successfully educate doctors and other healthcare professionals in the new premises who will work in this promising field and take care of patients with the same love and passion,” the rector added.

FMD Dean Milan Kolář also sees the new teaching premises as necessary for the further development of medical education at the faculty. “I am very happy that this plan has been realised and I believe that after the construction of the new building, the space requirements of our faculty will be secured for the next 20–30 years. The large lecture hall, with a capacity of nearly 400 people, will be used primarily for the study programme General Medicine, where the number of students in the first year currently exceeds 270, but also for other study programmes and joint events. The simulation floor, in turn, will enable the expansion of practical teaching on the most modern simulators so that students acquire the necessary competences and their background meets the current requirements for a medical faculty graduate,” Dean Kolář said.

 “I believe that thanks to the construction of the new building and in cooperation with the UP Faculty of Health Sciences and University Hospital Olomouc, we are going to build a centre of medical education, science, and healthcare that will stand out not only in the Olomouc Region, but within the entire Czech Republic,” he added.

According to FHS Dean Jiří Vévoda, the new premises have the potential to make studies more attractive and create conditions for better and more successful education in study programmes such as General Nursing, Midwifery, and Emergency Medicine. “The new premises will allow us to concentrate all simulation technology in one place and reduce costs. This will create an efficient and compact environment that will support education at the highest level. I am also convinced that the new shared building will promote and strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration between the medical and health sciences. Experiences and knowledge from different disciplines will intertwine, bringing innovation and new solutions into healthcare,” he said.

The architects of the new university building, which will come alive with student teaching during 2026, are from Brno-based Atelier Velehradský. The unmistakable new building is being erected on a former military site on Hněvotínská Street; it will attract attention by its unusual shape and cladding of triangular glass and red metal panels.

 “The architectural design is based on the size of the plot and the spatial requirements of the operations located in the building. Due to the location of the auditorium, it was necessary to ‘inflate’ the building; then the design underwent gradual development until the building achieved its shape. The aim of the cladding is to optimise the incoming energy from the sun, provide high quality daylight, and minimise heat transfer. To enhance this energy-optimised solution, a ‘green’ roof was also used, which, in addition to its energy benefits, also helps in the retention of rainwater,” said architect Radek Hlaváček, adding that the biggest challenge in designing the building was to maintain the quality and simplicity of the structural solution in a geometrically optimised, yet complicated shape when compared to standard buildings.

The modern four-storey building is designed as a five-tract layout with classrooms around the perimeter and sanitary and communication cores in the central part. For more comfortable catering, the new building will also include a canteen with a capacity of about 240 seats; its premises will be used by students and staff of both faculties and will accommodate up to 2,000 diners per day. The total built-up area is 38,572 m3, while the total usable area is 7,288 m2. The cost of the construction, including all infrastructure, interior fittings, and landscaping of the surrounding area, will exceed €26 million, with approximately two-thirds covered by a state budget subsidy. The remaining third will be paid by Palacký University from its own resources.

The UP Faculties of Medicine & Dentistry and Health Sciences are located in the Theoretical Institutes building, built on the University Hospital Olomouc premises in 1955–1960. The historical building, deemed no longer fully sufficient for the requirements of teaching and research in the new millennium, was complemented by a modern extension with classrooms and laboratories, completed in 2013. Palacký University students should be able to start using the new building in the course of 2026, after it is fully furnished.

Categories: News from UP

Palacký University commemorates 450th anniversary overseas

Tue, 05/09/2023 - 10:50

In the upcoming autumn, the Czechs living in the USA will celebrate the anniversary of Palacký University. National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library (NCSML) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will open an exhibition celebrating 450 years of the second oldest university in the Czech Republic. The museum has prepared ten large-format panels that commemorate significant events in the university's history, from its founding as a Jesuit College to the present day. The exhibition will be officially opened by Cecilia Rokusek, the director of the museum, and by the management of Palacký University, represented by Jiří Stavovčík, the vice-rector for internationalisation.

"The Division for International Cooperation curated this special exhibition marking the 450 years of the university and its author Pavel Kreisinger of the Department of History of the UP Faculty of Arts. We believe that an anniversary such as this deserves international recognition and presentation overseas, especially in places such as the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, where we have great connections with the people. Several American universities are among our strategic partners, and our alumni living in the USA. We invited all of them for the opening ceremony," said Jiří Stavovčík, Vice-Rector of UP.

The opening will take place in the  National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library premises in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at 4 p.m. The opening ribbon-cutting ceremony will be followed by speeches by Cecilia Rokusek, President of NCSML, Dalibor Mikuláš, Vice President of NCSML, Stefanie Kohn, Curator of NCSML, dignitaries of Palacký University Olomouc and other guests. NCSML is a museum and a library focused on Czech and Slovak history and culture, Czech and Slovak refugees living in USA and their descendants.

Categories: News from UP

Prof Miller on his honorary degree from Ukraine, our aid, and the future of Ukraine

Wed, 30/08/2023 - 13:00

“This is not just an award for me, but above all for our entire university,” says Jaroslav Miller, former UP rector and current Deputy Minister of Education, about the honorary doctorate awarded to him by the National Pedagogical Drahomanov University in Kyiv. What does the help of our universities mean for Ukraine? And how do they see the future of mutual cooperation?

All of this is discussed in the following interview with Prof Jaroslav Miller.

How important is this honorary doctorate from Drahomanov University for you?

In general, I feel rather reserved towards such honours. First of all, I’ve already had my fill of glory in my life, but above all I believe that helping – if it is possible – should be an automatic and standard part of our lives without any claims to any honours. For this very reason I’ve turned down a university medal in the past. Nevertheless, this particular award is of considerable value to me for two reasons. In recent years, Ukraine has been living through its historically difficult hour, during which we have been giving this country and this particular Ukrainian university a helping hand. This is a small piece in the big mosaic of Czech and European aid, but it says something positive about Palacký University. The second reason why I personally value this honorary doctorate so highly relates to my family history. Three generations of my ancestors on my father’s side served between 1870 and 1946 in what is now Ukraine in the historical territory of Volhynia. So I can say that the historical affiliation to this country is in my family’s DNA. It’s also for this reason that I have a Ukrainian family staying at my home.

We are talking about the past, because you should have received the doctorate in 2020, when you were UP rector. Then, thanks to your initiative, the university supported Ukrainian as well as Belarusian students who had fled their country. Nevertheless, the award ceremony was prevented by the pandemic of Covid-19, and then Russia invaded Ukraine. However, let’s get back to the present. The war is still going on. From your perspective, how active are Czech universities in helping Ukraine?

What the entire Czech education system is doing, and it’s not just universities, but also primary and secondary schools, far exceeds my personal expectations and the ministry’s wildest dreams. I’m not just referring to the fact that, for example, the Czech Ministry of Education announced projects to support the integration of Ukrainian children, students, and academics. I am also talking about the assistance that has often been spontaneous. Many Czech universities, despite the current difficult financial situation, have invested their own money and energy in helping. I very much appreciate this, knowing that we are doing a good thing. As I’m also currently Deputy Minister of Education, I’m pleased to say that the Ministry also highly appreciates the help of the whole sector.

You are a university teacher and an academic. How do you perceive the situation from the point of view of your profession? Do you meet colleagues or students who fled Ukraine and have got the opportunity to work or study here?

I regularly meet both Ukrainian students and Belarusian students and academics who have fled their countries. The escape to a foreign country and the process of integration are always a test of resilience. Of course, Czech universities and academies of science do not have unlimited possibilities, yet they have admitted hundreds of Ukrainian students to study and employed many academics and scientists. We must humbly bow to this fact. I’ve had the honour of being able to visit Ukraine several times over the last eighteen months and have held a number of meetings with the Ukrainian Minister of Education and also with several rectors of universities there. Without exception, all of them appreciate our support and at the same time count on it even after the war ends.

What were your impressions of these meetings? How do they perceive our assistance?

I was pleasantly surprised and almost shocked by the fact that Ukrainian universities are mostly running in business-as-usual mode; i.e., students continue to study, and universities try, as much as possible, to run their normal operations. Naturally, this is sometimes very difficult. Ukrainian schools, and I am not just talking about universities, are very grateful for what the Czech Republic is doing for them. Ukraine truly appreciates not only the material and financial assistance we provide, but also the fact that we educate their children. The Czech education system – from regional to higher education – is trying to integrate Ukrainian children and students. This is not an entirely easy endeavour, with all the cultural and linguistic differences at stake, but it’s working.

How else can we support academia in Ukraine?

I think the next “finest hour” of our education system will come when the war is over. At that moment, the Czech Republic and our universities should offer all possible help to partner institutions in Ukraine. Help will be needed with the reconstruction of infrastructure and many other things. However, it will also be important to offer the universities there a helping hand in their integration into the European educational process, which is actually one of the reasons why I was awarded the honorary doctorate. We need to draw them more into Europe and into various European projects, simply making them partners. We need to show them that they belong with us. And here I see a great opportunity for universities from the Central European region, which are culturally, linguistically, and mentally closer to Ukraine than French or Scandinavian schools. For instance, there is a huge opportunity for us to adopt a clear agenda and strengthen our university’s position within the Aurora alliance, because we are the ones who – quite logically – are in charge of the Eastern partnership.

The war has been going on for a long time, though. Is there a risk of our aid running out?

Aid can take many different forms. There are other ways besides financial. Psychological encouragement is also important. That is why the journeys of Czech politicians and other representatives of various institutions to Ukraine are of great importance. It is extremely important for our partners to know that we are not forgetting them, that we are always with them. I’ve personally witnessed during my visits how crucial it is for them to know that they are not alone. It gives them the strength to cope better with all the problems that war brings.

Unfortunately, the story is not over yet; the war continues.

Yes, but the story can actually have two interpretations. Firstly, it is the negative one that you mentioned – the war is still raging on. But we can also see a possible positive ending. The story is not over, because the cooperation that we have established is much deeper than it has ever been in the past, and it will certainly continue. Our knowledge of the country, of which until recently we had only a slight acquaintance, is now much better and deeper. Moreover, thanks to the influx of refugees, Ukrainian culture is becoming part of Czech culture, and that can only enrich us. In this sense, we are beginning to write a new, albeit perhaps long chapter in the story, in which the Ukrainian education system will become part of the European Union system and Ukraine itself will become a member of our community in the medium term. This is my huge wish for Ukraine – as well as for us.

Categories: News from UP

UP improved its position in Shanghai Rankings

Thu, 17/08/2023 - 12:00

For the seventh time, Palacký University Olomouc has been listed in the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as the Shanghai Rankings. UP is one of six Czech universities included in the ranking’s TOP 1000 in 2023. At the same time, Olomouc’s university has improved its position globally compared to last year, when it took the 601st–700th place.

The Shanghai Rankings have been comparing universities since 2003, focusing mainly on their scientific performance. Palacký University Olomouc has been ranked since 2017 and regularly is in the top 3 Czech universities. The same is true this year, when UP shared the third place among domestic universities, together with the Czech University of life Sciences Prague, overall ranked as 601st–700th. The Technical University of Ostrava (VSB) and the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice have dropped out of the ranking for 2023. Charles University in Prague remains the leading Czech school.

2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities

2020 2021 2022 2023 Charles University Prague 201st–300th 201st–300th 301st–400th 301st–400th Masaryk University Brno 601st–700th 601st–700th 401st–500th 401st–500th Palacký University Olomouc 501st–600th 701st–800th 701st–800th 601st–700th Czech University of Life Sciences Prague 801st–900th 801st–900th 801st–900th 601st–700th Brno University of Technology x 701st–800th 901st–1000th 701st–800th Czech Technical University in Prague 701st–800th 801st–900th 801st–900th 801st–900th

of six specific indicators. These are:

  • the number of alumni winning Nobel Prizes/Fields Medals (Alumni),
  • the number of staff winning Nobel Prizes/Fields Medal (Award),
  • the number of Highly Cited Researchers (according to Clarivate Analytics) (HiCi),
  • the number of papers published in Nature and Science (N&S),
  • the number of papers indexed in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index (PUB),
  • academic performance (the weighted score of all previous indicators) (PCP).

2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities

Quality of
Quality of Faculty Research Output Per Capita
(10 %)
(20 %)
(20 %)
(20 %)
(20 %)
(10 %)
Charles University Prague 0.0 0.0 6.6 11.1 41.5 18.9 Masaryk University Brno 0.0 0.0 6.6 9.7 28.1 21.0 Palacký University Olomouc 0.0 0.0 6.6 6.6 21.8 20.5 Czech University of Life Sciences Prague 0.0 0.0 6.6 3.6 20.1 23.8 Brno University of Technology 0.0 0.0 6.6 4.1 19.7 16.0 Czech Technical University in Prague 5.2 0.0 0.0 3.4 21.9 13.3

The move up the rankings is mainly due to the fact that UP has returned to the list of universities that have Highly Cited Researchers (HiCi) among their staff. While in the 2022 ARWU edition only Masaryk University and Technical University Ostrava scored in this indicator, in the 2023 ARWU edition five out of six Czech universities have a non-zero score. This year, Masaryk University was joined by Charles University, the Czech University of Life Sciences, Brno University of Technology and, last but not least, Palacký University Olomouc. Each of the above-mentioned universities has a Highly Cited Researcher. The only Czech university with a zero rating in this indicator is Czech Technical University in Prague. However, it is the only one that can boast a score for a graduate who has won the Nobel Prize (Alumni). Although this is a Nobel Prize awarded almost 50 years ago, according to the methodology of the Shanghai Rankings, it is counted in the ranking for 90 years, with its weight decreasing over time.

Compared to the previous year, the number of papers in the Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index databases (PUB) should also be of concern to Czech universities, because their scores in this indicator have all dropped. Despite the decline, however, Charles University continues to significantly outperform other Czech universities in this indicator. This cannot be said, however, in the case of the weighted score of all five previous indicators (PCP), in which Charles University ranks only 4th, after the Czech University of Life Sciences, Masaryk University, and Palacký University.

In the context of the international rankings strategy, the improved position in the overall ranking is not only a good result for Palacký University, but also positive feedback in relation to measures that were applied and in which the Science and Research Division also participated, for which they deserve thanks. Thanks to this year’s move up in this ranking, UP has gotten ahead of its Spanish and Danish colleagues from the AURORA ALLIANCE, thus occupying the same position as another partner, the University of Iceland. The world number one is, traditionally, Harvard University, which is followed in the Top 15 by 11 other US universities.

Complete results can be found HERE.

Categories: News from UP

CATRIN scientists join brain implant research to test safety of graphene materials

Mon, 14/08/2023 - 12:00

Scientists from the Czech Advanced Technologies and Research Institute – CATRIN at Palacký University will participate in the development of a new generation of brain implants using the Nobel Prize-winning material graphene. Thanks to success in the Horizon Europe Hop On Facility grant call, they will join the already ongoing international European Innovation Council (EIC) MINIGRAPH project. The task of the Olomouc scientists will be to verify the biocompatibility of graphene implants to living cells, and to propose a better composition without adverse effects. In the first ever Hop On Facility call, only five applicants were supported in the Czech Republic.

Since July, the project with the acronym MINIGRAPH2 has been incorporated as a separate work package of the MINIGRAPH project (, coordinated by the Catalan Institute for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) in Barcelona. The aim of the project is to develop and validate a new generation of brain implants very precisely and gently placed in the skull using electronics, which can stimulate the brain’s neural activity to treat or improve certain neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. The miniature electrodes with graphene, a carbon material with which CATRIN scientists have extensive experience, play an important role in the system.

“Our goal is to test the cytotoxicity of graphene neural implants at the cellular and molecular level. This way we can identify their potential side effects and contribute to the design of better, more biocompatible materials. After all, a key consideration for their use in human medicine is their safety and harmlessness. Our team therefore brings important added value to the consortium and can play a key role in regulatory approval processes,” said research team leader Kateřina Poláková.

CATRIN researchers will use two approaches, namely experimental and theoretical. In the experimental part, they will investigate the interaction of graphene materials with cells. “Here we will use our previous experience with testing the cytotoxicity of 2D graphene materials in vitro, i.e. in laboratory conditions. Whether it is commercially produced graphene oxide or new graphene derivatives developed at CATRIN,” explained Poláková. The second approach using computational chemistry will focus on creating models of modified graphene according to the exact experimental composition. “We will then use the validated graphene models to study their interactions with models of neural membranes, focusing in particular on the effect of the size, shape and composition of the graphene materials used. These calculations will provide information about the interactions between nano- and biomaterials at the atomic level,” said Markéta Paloncýová, another member of the research group.

CATRIN researchers are among a few group of Czech applicants who have been successful in the Horizon Europe Hop On Facility (HORIZON-WIDERA_2022-ACCESS-07). This is a completely new scheme that allows a partner from a so-called widening country to join a consortium of one of the awarded EIC Pathfinder grants or other RIA projects from Horizon Europe Pillar II during the course of the solution. The new partner must bring added value to the existing consortium through its original and highly complementary scientific focus. Within the MINIGRAPH project, scientists from Olomouc are collaborating with seven other partners from five European countries. Local junior researchers and PhD students from Palacký University will also have the opportunity to collaborate with academic and commercial entities with extensive European or global experience in the field of neuroimplants.

Categories: News from UP

UP has received an elite project pushing the boundaries of nanotechnology in energy and medicine

Mon, 07/08/2023 - 12:00

Palacký University in Olomouc (UP) has succeeded in the Jan Amos Komenský Operational Programme in the Top Research Challenge. The list of projects recommended for funding, published recently, by the Czech Advanced Technologies and Research Institute (CATRIN) of UP.

I consider it a great success that we have won the project from this prestigious and demanding call, for which we have been preparing for about a year. I am convinced that we succeeded not only thanks to a very topical and well targeted topic, but also thanks to the experience of our researchers and the interdisciplinary focus of our research, which is one of the key missions of CATRIN. In the project, we will connect with colleagues from five faculties of Palacký University as well as with scientists from Charles University and CEITEC VUT. This will allow us to strengthen our research efforts, achieve even more significant results and make a significant contribution to the development of science and technology in our society. I am very pleased that CATRIN teams have also contributed to the success of two other supported projects and will participate in their solutions,” said CATRIN Director Pavel Banáš.

The Technology Beyond the Nanoworld (TECHSCALE) project finished with the second highest score among the projects recommended for funding. Starting in October, researchers will be developing new nanomaterials and technologies that will contribute to solving two current global challenges: the generation and storage of renewable energy and the development of new materials to improve the quality of life. The project will also include an assessment of the societal impact and public acceptance of new technologies.

The main focus of the project is the design, preparation and use of a new class of materials that we will prepare using a breakthrough single-atom engineering method. We expect to make fundamental discoveries that will push the boundaries of current nanotechnology and find applications in, for example, energy storage, chemical catalysis in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, diagnosis of certain diseases and their treatment. The project will also include, among other things, the development of new materials for antimicrobial therapy and for combating bacterial resistance to antibiotics,” said the project’s principal investigator Michal Otyepka from CATRIN, a four-time winner of prestigious European Research Council grants.

The five-year TECHSCALE project will start this October, with a total funding of CZK 481.7 million. A broad interdisciplinary team from Palacký University, as well as from Charles University led by Jiří Čejka and CEITEC VUT led by Martin Pumera will collaborate on the project. For example, colleagues from Charles University will focus on the targeted synthesis of new types of zeolites and other porous materials. “Our task is to develop new highly active and selective catalysts based on precisely defined monatomic active centers on suitable supports for the preparation of specialty chemicals and to use them, for example, in cascade reactions or in the preparation of chiral molecules important for the pharmaceutical industry,” explained Jiří Čejka.

I believe that by engaging a wide range of scientists from the natural sciences to the social sciences and legal studies, we will succeed in changing the paradigm for the development of new materials and technologies that are designed from the outset to be safe and responsible,” Otyepka added.
The total funding for the call was CZK 8 billion, while CZK 1.1 billion has not yet been spent. Of the 15 successful projects, eight have been awarded to institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; other supported applicants include, in addition to UP, Brno University of Technology, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, VSB – Technical University Ostrava, Charles University, Masaryk University and Masaryk Institute of Oncology. Scientific teams from UP will participate in five of these projects.

Categories: News from UP

Aurora’s European University programme secured continued funding

Wed, 12/07/2023 - 13:00

Palacký University Olomouc is delighted to announce that the Aurora European University programme has secured a second round of funding under the 2023 European Universities Initiative Call by the European Commission. This ensures that Aurora can deepen its existing cooperation and continue its mission in higher education transformation.

Michal Malacka, Vice-rector for strategy and external relations commented that: “Aurora's successful continuation to the next phase is a great achievement of the entire Aurora team and community. It is also a great reward to a hard-working Aurora team at UP, and we are excited to continue building our European University with 8 excellent strategic partners.  For UP, Aurora ensures important partaking in the European higher education developments.”

The upcoming Aurora 2030 consortium, led by the University of Iceland, has been granted funding for a four-year period. This programme, which received 90/100 evaluative points from the Commission, builds on the significant progress made during the 2020-2023 pilot phase. Aurora President Jon Atli Benediktsson joyously shares:

“I am delighted that Aurora 2030 has been awarded a four-year continuation grant by the European Commission. This is a strong vote of confidence in Aurora’s mission to equip students with the skills and mindsets needed to address societal challenges. This new grant will allow us to continue working closely with our partners across Europe and beyond.”

The new programme will feature both a continuation of existing, as well as completely new Aurora activities. UP has significantly increased the role it will play in this new programme, with UP Aurora Institutional Coordinator, Selma Porobic commenting:

“I am very pleased to announce that UP has increased its leadership in a number of activities in the next Aurora programme, including Capacity Building and Community Engagement Work focusing on CEE countries and Ukraine, Engaging Regional Ecosystems and Stakeholders, Aurora Sustainable Campus, Aurora Student Community, and overall Sustainability of Aliance 2030+. We have also secured co-leadership in Education for Sustainable Devlopment, Innovative pedagogies, Academic collaboration, Social entrepreneurship and Innovation, Communication and dissemination, as well as Student services.”

For more information on Aurora’s goals and priorities for this renewed commitment can be found here.

The Czech National Agency for international education, Dům zahraniční spolupráce, was also happy to congratulate UP being among the select Czech universities awarded continued support by the commission. They provided an overview of continuing and newly funded European University Alliances with Czech members here

About Aurora
The Aurora 2030 consortium comprises the University of Iceland (UIce), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA), University of Innsbruck (UIBK), University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Palacký University Olomouc (UP), Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Université Paris Est Creteil (UPEC), and the University of Napoli Federico II (UNINA) as well as seven associated academic and non-academic partners including University of East Anglia (UEA), South-West University “Neofit Rilski” (SWUNR), Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice (UPJSK), the University of Tetova (UT), Kharkiv National University, European Forum Alpbach, Information Centre on Academic Mobility and Equivalence (CIMEA) who together span 13 countries.

About Aurora
The Aurora 2030 consortium comprises the University of Iceland (UIce), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA), University of Innsbruck (UIBK), University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Palacký University Olomouc (UP), Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Université Paris Est Creteil (UPEC), and the University of Napoli Federico II (UNINA) as well as seven associated academic and non-academic partners including University of East Anglia (UEA), South-West University “Neofit Rilski” (SWUNR), Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice (UPJSK), the University of Tetova (UT), Kharkiv National University, European Forum Alpbach, Information Centre on Academic Mobility and Equivalence (CIMEA) who together span 13 countries.

Categories: News from UP

Scientists make first nonlinear measurement key to optical quantum computer

Wed, 12/07/2023 - 09:15

Olomouc – An international group of researchers has progressed towards optical quantum computation by experimentally demonstrating a nonlinear measurement of an optical field. The unique experiment, the latest result of long-term fruitful collaboration between the University of Tokyo and Palacký University Olomouc, has been recently published in Nature Communications.

Quantum computers promise to take advantage of the quantum properties of our reality to offer a dramatic speed increase in some kinds of calculations. The fundamental difference is the superposition principle, which allows simultaneous evaluation of all the possible internal states of the computer. Many physical platforms are being considered for implementation, but the ultimate victor has yet to be found. Next to superconducting qubits and spins of individual atoms, light is being examined for its speed and technological maturity. It can be manipulated at room temperatures with high frequencies approaching the terahertz range, and its use is accompanied by developments in the communication industries.

The key ingredient to a working quantum computer is a set of nonlinear operations that can perform multiplicative operations on some attributes of quantum states. As opposed to linear operations (such as addition and subtraction), nonlinear operations cannot be efficiently simulated on classical computers and can therefore lead to the required increase in acceleration. In the recent experiment, nonlinearity was achieved by combining classical fast nonlinear light control and a specifically prepared light state with strong quantum properties. The nonlinear performance of the measurement circuit was then verified on a large set of different states of light.

“The collaboration resulted in developing and successfully verifying the fast and flexible electronic feed-forward technology usable on the states of light that will be crucial for implementing optical quantum computation. The feed-forward and auxiliary states of light with strong quantum properties were used to construct the nonlinear measurement,” explained Prof Radim Filip.

The employed electronic circuits are based on a look-up table storing the values of nonlinear functions that have been calculated in advance. During the actual measurement, the values are only recalled from memory, allowing for high speed and, consequently, only very little need for delay lines and the associated losses.

The measurement quality strongly depends on the quantum properties of the auxiliary states of light. “For this nonlinear measurement, we need quantum states with suppressed fluctuations in a specific nonlinear quadrature first generated in 2021. For measurement evaluation, we used weak laser light prepared with 27 different values of intensity and randomly distributed phase. 2.16 million data points were measured in total, and the results have shown the expected dependence on the signal,” described Assoc Prof Petr Marek.

The whole set of measured states and the corresponding measurement outcomes was used to reconstruct the effective states of the detectors for each particular measurement outcome. The obtained states showed a near total match with the theoretical predictions. “Furthermore, the inherent noise of the measurement was equal to the nonlinear fluctuations of the auxiliary states. We can therefore consider the experimental test of the nonlinear measurement successful,” summarized Marek.

“On our side, this project has been financially supported by grants from the Czech Science Foundation and EU H2020 and Horizon Europe grants NONGAUSS and CLUSTEC. Our long-term collaboration with the Tokyo group under Prof Akira Furusawa thus successfully continues, focusing on measurement-induced operations and other key technologies required for optical quantum computation. It incorporates new generations of students and junior researchers and draws attention on the government level because quantum technologies are quickly becoming a global priority,” concluded Filip.

Categories: News from UP

UP Endowment Fund to support nine talented students this year

Thu, 29/06/2023 - 12:30

Nine students of Palacký University Olomouc – namely from the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Physical Culture, as well as the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and the Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology – received support from the UP Endowment Fund[B1] . This year, the fund will distribute €33,000 among them.

The students who succeeded in the selection procedure of the UP Endowment Fund were invited to meet Martin Procházka, university rector and also chair of the fund’s Board of Trustees, and Jiří Rudolf, the fund’s director, where they signed a contract that will allow them to use the financial contribution.

This year the UP Endowment Fund supports nine scholarship holders, a record.

“Let me congratulate you and wish you success. I appreciate the fact that students from five different faculties of our university succeeded with their projects and I look forward to having your present the results of your work,” said Rector Procházka.

The UP Endowment Fund receives funds to support talented students from both corporate and individual donors, as well as from important sponsors who care about the development of young talents and society in general. Commercial Bank (Komerční banka) has been the general partner of the UP Endowment Fund for several years now; Sigma Group Inc. became another main partner this year.

“Nine very promising students, who will now be able to work on their research projects with the potential to contribute to sustainable development and whose results will be applicable in practice, could only be supported thanks to the generosity of our donors,” emphasised Rudolf, Director of the UP Endowment Fund and university fundraiser.

In this year’s call, student applicants submitted their projects to the Board of Trustees for the eighth year running. Those who succeeded now have one year to conclude their projects, after which they will submit a final report and feedback on their acquired competences to the fund’s Board of Trustees.

In addition to their research work, the scholarship holders will also intern at prestigious foreign institutions; many of them will lead their own projects for the first time, working with their own budget, presenting their work at professional conferences and public events.

“The fund, in collaboration with the UP Career Centre, will also provide them with ongoing support during the realisation of their projects and other opportunities for development, such as workshops, courses, career counselling, and coaching. In this context, I would like to stress that the activities of the centre are open not only to fund scholarship holders but also to all UP students. In the autumn, the UP Division for Communications and Student Affairs is planning a new course, Leadership Matters, focusing on creative leadership,” said Katrin Stark, the university’s coordinator for work with talented students. She said the new course was inspired by best practice examples from international concepts and organisations and built upon collaboration with experts in the fields who could guide participants through the key topics. Students will be able to apply for the course in September.

UP Endowment Fund stipend winners
Pavel Vyvlečka, UP Faculty of Science (Geoinformatics and Cartography), €1700. Eva Szczyrbová, UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (Medical Biology), €4200. Eliška Vodáková, UP Faculty of Arts (Kinanthropology), €4350. Eliška Pinďáková, UP Faculty of Science (Biochemistry), €2450. Kristýna Kultová, UP Faculty of Health Sciences (Intensive Nursing Care), €3000. Eliška Zgarbová, UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (Molecular and Cell Biology), €5800. Daniel Chrenko, UP Faculty of Science (Experimental Biology), €4900. Ludmila Včelařová, UP Faculty of Science (Experimental Biology), €3400. Marta Sýkorová, UP Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology (Social and Spiritual Determinants of Health), €3000.


 [B1]Zmizely anglické stránky na UP, nechávám český link.

Categories: News from UP

Prof Jan Peřina receives František Palacký Prize

Tue, 20/06/2023 - 08:45

Palacký University Olomouc has awarded the prestigious František Palacký Prize to Prof Jan Peřina for his long-term scientific work in the field of quantum, statistical, and nonlinear optics. He received the award from UP Rector Martin Procházka during a ceremonial meeting of the scholarly boards and academic senates of Palacký University in the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc.

“I appreciate this award very much, more than any other award I have received. František Palacký has been a huge historical figure for me, ever since I was young. I’ve read his five-volume History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia several times. It was always a gripping and enlightening read. My only regret was that the history ended in 1526,” said Peřina.

Prof Jan Peřina gained international fame for his scientific achievements in quantum, statistical, and non-linear optics and in the theory of the coherence of light. He also made a significant contribution to the discovery of the properties of non-classical light. He was a visiting professor at the Wrocław University of Science and Technology and at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. He has also been a visiting scholar at Columbia University and a visiting professor at the Sapienza University of Rome, the Universities of Innsbruck and Graz, and the Atominstitute in Vienna.

Prof Peřina has built an internationally renowned scientific centre in Olomouc. During his lifetime, he led many scientific projects, has been and remains a member of Czech and foreign scientific societies, and served on the editorial boards of many international scientific journals. During his career, he has supervised dozens of graduate and doctoral students. Many of them are currently professors themselves, working in the Czech Republic as well as abroad.

“It is an indisputable fact that Prof Peřina’s extensive scientific knowledge enables departments in Olomouc and abroad to successfully investigate and develop issues related to quantum communication, manipulation of light beams at the level of single photons, and processing of quantum states,” said Jan Hlaváč, Vice-Dean of the UP Faculty of Science, who introduced the laureate of the prestigious award.

After finishing his studies, Prof Peřina has worked in Olomouc as a scientific researcher at the Laboratory of Optics at the UP Faculty of Science, then (since 1984) at the UP Joint Laboratory of Optics and the Institute of Physics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. In 1990 he was briefly the head of the Joint Laboratory of Optics, in 1990–1994 he was the head of the Department of Optics at the UP Faculty of Science. From 1990 to the present, he has been Professor of Optics at the UP Department of Optics as well as at the Joint Laboratory of Optics at the UP Faculty of Science and the Institute of Physics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.

For his scientific work and merits for the establishment of the internationally recognised optics centre in Olomouc, Jan Peřina has been awarded, among others, the I.I. Rabi Award at Columbia University NY; the Medal of the Union of Czech Mathematicians and Physicists; the Prize of the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports; the Czech presidential Medal for Merit (First Grade); the Honorary Medal of Dionýz Ilkovič by the Slovak Academy of Sciences; the Galileo Galilei Award by the International Commission for Optics; and the Neuron Prize for contribution to world science in physics. He also served as Vice-President of the International Commission for Optics.

The František Palacký Prize recognises outstanding results of creative activity in the fields of science and culture that contribute to the prestige of the Czech Republic and Palacký University Olomouc. It was established on the occasion of the bicentenary of František Palacký’s birth on 14 June 1998. It is awarded on behalf of Palacký University, usually once every two years, by the UP Rector. The list of previous laureates is here.

Categories: News from UP

‘Sun Barque’ – Europe’s most ancient beer gets a tasting

Sat, 17/06/2023 - 08:00

The most ancient beer in Europe is called ‘Sun Barque’ (‘Sluneční bárka’), brewed according to a 3,000-year-old recipe by the Bohdaneč Brewery in the Kutná Hora region in cooperation with the Experimental Brewery of Palacký University, and got its first tasting this month at the Pardubice Beer Festival. The beer, brewed from millet, combines the flavours of eyebright, silver cinquefoil, mead wort, buckthorn, and mugwort, and resembles today’s Gruit-type beer.

“When a large bronze bucket was discovered in 2017 and subsequently shown to contain organic residues that indicated the oldest beer in Central Europe, it was amazing news. I am therefore very happy that I was able to participate in the creation of the recipe and in the actual brewing on behalf of the UP Experimental Brewery. In total, we managed to brew 700 litres of this beer: ‘first time lucky’, as they say,” described Lukáš Kučera, from the UP Department of Analytical Chemistry.

The remains of Europe’s oldest millet and herbal beer were hidden away in a bronze bucket dating back to the 9th century BCE. The vessel was excavated in 2017 near the village of Kladina by Pardubice by archaeologists after it was accidentally discovered. They took the bucket to the East Bohemia Museum in Pardubice and asked scientists to help them determine its contents. The remains of the ancient contents were examined by scientists from Palacký University, Masaryk University in Brno, and the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. After a thorough analysis of the samples, they concluded that the bucket was used to brew millet beer with bitter herbs three thousand years ago.

The name ‘Sun Barque’ is based on the decoration of the bronze vessel. “The meticulous embossing was associated with the Sun cult. Birds of passage pull a barque with a solar circle. The motif refers to the religious practices of Bronze Age people and their ideas about the workings of the world and the universe. The drink was supposed to bring its users closer to the Gods,” explained Tomáš Libánek, Director of the East Bohemia Museum in Pardubice.

The first 700 visitors of the Pardubice Beer Festival got a chance taste the first batch of ‘Sun Barque’, as the tasting was included in the ticket price.

Categories: News from UP

UP Rector Emeritus Jaroslav Miller awarded honorary doctorate from Kyiv

Wed, 14/06/2023 - 15:30

Jaroslav Miller, UP Rector Emeritus and current Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, received an honorary doctorate from the National Pedagogical Drahomanov University in Kyiv at a ceremony this week. It was personally presented to him by the rector of the Ukrainian university, Viktor Andrushchenko. The meeting was also attended by current UP Rector Martin Procházka, who signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with his Ukrainian counterpart.

Drahomanov University awarded Jaroslav Miller with an honorary doctorate in appreciation for the assistance provided to Ukrainian students since 2017 by Palacký University Olomouc, which he led as rector at the time. “Assistance was provided in three areas. Firstly, through the European university alliance Aurora, which was co-founded by Palacký University under my leadership, we managed to include Ukrainian universities in the Eastern Partnership, which enabled the necessary reforms and participation in European projects. Secondly, we provided direct help to Drahomanov University concerning their management system and quality control and the restructuring of study programmes in accordance with the Bologna reforms. Last but not least, Palacký University provided scholarships for Ukrainian students, and it had done so several years before the start of the Russian invasion,” explained Prof Miller.

“This honorary doctorate is therefore a great honour, not only for me, but especially for the whole of Palacký University and its individual units, which has provided assistance to the Ukrainian side in recent years,” he added.

Jaroslav Miller was notified of the proposal to be awarded with an honorary doctorate in 2020, but due to the Covid pandemic and the subsequent Russian invasion, the ceremony had to be postponed. The ceremony at the Czech Ministry of Education was also attended by Ukrainian Chargé d’Affaires Vitaly Usatyi and UP Rector Martin Procházka.

On this occasion, UP Rector Procházka signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with his Ukrainian counterpart from Drahomanov University, which will facilitate closer collaboration with an emphasis on the development of joint educational and research projects. “I am happy that our university partnerships are expanding with another school from Ukraine; we have been supporting V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University for some time now as part of the Aurora Alliance. I have invited Rector Viktor Andrushchenko to Olomouc, where we would like to organise a joint meeting with our Ukrainian students,” said Procházka.

Categories: News from UP