žurnál Magazine of Palacký University Olomouc, 2015 /1
Palacký University in Select Company Due to Science and Research
�lomouc � �e �niversity �ity 24 000 students at 8 faculties the highest student/inhabitant ratio in the country more than 300 study programmes at Bc., M.A. and Ph.D. levels dynamic research and international cooperation study programmes in English and other languages · English Philology · Deutsche Philologie · Euroculture · European Studies and International Relations · Chinese Philology · Jewish and Israeli Studies · Dentistry · General Medicine · Leisure Time Activities Counselling and Management · Pre-Primary Education · Special Needs Counselling · Specialnaja Pedagogika · Biochemistry · International Development Studies · Ph.D. programmes in Sciences, Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, Education, Law, Kinanthropology
contents 2 — UP in Select Company Due to Science and Research 5 — Noam Chomsky, the Phenomenon 6 — Dean’s Wish Comes True: Faculty of Law Receives First Accreditation for Awarding Docentships 6 — Chemist Pavel Hobza Among the World’s Most Cited Scientists 7 — Peter Tavel Takes Over Leadership of Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology 7 — Daniel Schacter Lectures on Human Memory 8 — Dentistry Students Save the Dummies… for Training 8 — Speech Therapy Studies Found Excellent in International Ranking 9 — Mark Latash: Keynote Speaker at Movement Analysis Conference 9 — BALUO Centre Construction Commenced: Hammering on the Foundation Stone 11 — Breakthrough Environmental Nanotechnologies from Olomouc 13 — Young Algologist Reveals Ancient History of Cyanobacteria 15 — Olomouc Scientists Discover Method to Speed Detection of Serious Diseases 16 — Mediterranean Bats Take a Fancy to Olomouc 17 — Profile – Michael Beckerman 20 — Fifty Times More than Just a Festival 24 — “Once a student, always an alumnus.” (Interview with Leona Axelsson) 28 — Jaroslav Doležel Receives the Ministry Award for Research 32 — Olomouc Residents Identify Their City with the University 33 — Our Man in America: Motivation is the Key 35 — A Fulbright Means Finally Having Time for One’s Own Work 37 — Park Here 38 — Remem(Novem)bering 39 — Reflection: The Czech Republic—A New Page in the Book of My Life 40 — The Final Word & Comics
Žurnál | Published annually in English | Czech Registration No.: MK ČR E 12524, ISSN 1804-6754 | Published by Palacký University Olomouc, Křížkovského 8, CZ-771 47 Olomouc, Czech Republic | VAT No.: 61989592 | Chairman of the Editorial Board: Petr Bilík | Editor-in-Chief: Pavel Konečný | Layout: Věra Marešová | Graphic Editor: Michaela Cyprová | Proofreading: Matthew Sweney | Editorial Board | Biskupské nám. 1, Olomouc | Telephone: +420 585 631 155 | E-mail: email@example.com | Print | Profi-Tisk Group Olomouc | 1000 copies
I dare to describe the year 2014 with these rather audacious words. Perhaps surprisingly, it was not due to the visit of the global academic superstar Noam Chomsky, the flattering scores of Palacký University in global rankings, a number of individual awards and achievements, our expansion to Prague, nor the Alumni programme. The main reason is the fact, perhaps considered banal by many, that as the UP Rector I came to know many colleagues and scientists in the past year who work very hard and whose primary intention is not a vision of success, but simply their love for science and their students; they never lack motivation, enjoying their profession sometimes even to the point of obsession. It has resulted in a breath-taking dynamic of development in a number of disciplines, whose mere list would fill this column. My logical conclusion after the past year is: Palacký University Olomouc has an immense human, infrastructural, scientific, and educational potential, whose continuous fulfilment must be our objective in the years to come. I have been delighted in the past year for many reasons. These include the impressive achievements of individuals and research teams, as well as the less conspicuous—yet just as significant—events vital for the functioning and fine reputation of our university: the sophisticated system of science popularisation for secondary school students at the Faculty of Science; the accreditation of the Associate Professor programme granted to the Faculty of Law; the first three graduates of the doctoral programme at the Faculty of Health Sciences; the completion of the new complex at the Faculty of Education, and the commencement of the construction of the BALUO Application Centre at the Faculty of Physical Culture; the refurbished Dentistry manikins; the completion of the Centre for Doctoral Studies at the Faculty of Arts; and the fantastic success of the charity flea market at the Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology. The Science and Technology Park successfully started its new proof-of-concept programme and the Library has managed to link the Palacký University and Olomouc Regional Museum catalogues. The Rector’s Office supported many student clubs financially in 2014 that might be finally able to find adequate premises for their activities in 2015 or 2016. The past year was also marked by the beginning of the long-term process of the university’s internationalisation. The first visible step was opening a branch of the Czech Department of Asylum and Migration Policy on academic grounds, which rather simplified the service for foreign students and academics at UP. Last but not least, our university proudly celebrated the 25th anniversary of the November 1989 changes, without which none of the achievements described above would have been possible. Jaroslav Miller Rector, Palacký University Olomouc
text: Martina Šaradínová photos: Pavel Konečný, Viktor Čáp/RCPTM
UP in Select Company Due to Science and Research Palacký University Olomouc scored again in an international university ranking. After this year’s premiere in the list of the world’s top universities made by the Centre for World University Rankings, UP also recently succeeded in the U.S. News & World Report Best Global Universities Rankings, where it achieved the 488th position. The other two Czech universities included in the company of the world’s 500 top universities were Charles University in Prague (no. 179) and Czech Technical University in Prague (no. 371). UP Rector Jaroslav Miller was pleased, but not surprised by the achievement. “I’m glad our university has been ranked among the best universities internationally. It’s an appreciation of our work, giving us motivation to further improve,” said Miller. The Best Global Universities Rankings is based on data and analytics solutions provided by Thomson Reuters, whose portfolio includes bibliometric and citation data from the Web of Science and InCit2
esTM, an analytics platform for bibliometric comparison of scientific performance. Primarily, the academic research performance is monitored, but some of the factors also involve the quality of education. Apart from the number of publications, citations, and other relevant data, the rankings also take into account the opinions and evaluations of approximately 8000 academics associated via the Thomson Reuters database.
Long-standing trend According to the university management, UP’s successful ranking is a result of the emphasis on scientific work and excellence in research. “This trend has been long-standing and has been shown in all indicators. International comparison in the form of the rankings is one of them,” added the UP Rector. UP’s impressive results have been confirmed in another research output analysis assessing more than 5,000 research-focused institutions – Scimago Institutions Rankings, based on the SciVerse Scopus database owned by Elsevier publishing house. “The rapidity of our improvement is very high. In the last five years, Palacký University has moved between four and six hundred places higher in this ranking,” said Miller. The most significant shift occurred in the indicator monitoring excellent publications. UP also greatly improved in the number and proportion of publications that are cited in patent applications. Scientific publications and Ph.D. students on the increase The resulting score in Best Global Universities Rankings comprises ten indicators with varying weights. The most important ones are global and regional reputation of the university, followed by bibliometric indicators such as the number of publications or the number of frequently cited publications (that are among the 10 percent most cited), total citations, normalised citation impact, or international collaboration. The final two indicators assess the total number of awarded Ph.D. degrees and their number per academic staff member. Publications on quality research conducted by Olomouc scientists that have a positive response in expert circles are one
of Palacký University’s strong points. In the percentage of total publications that are among the 10 percent most cited, UP occupies the 222th position, outpacing Charles University (no. 473) and Czech Technical University (no. 305). UP’s best score, no. 162, was achieved in normalised citation impact which takes into account the institution’s size. UP also excelled in the number of awarded Ph.D. degrees per academic staff member (ranked no. 250). Strengthened reputation According to Zuzana Polanská, Director of the UP Strategy Support Office, the success of inclusion of Palacký University in the 500 best global universities will
definitely strengthen its reputation and may have a synergetic effect. “It may indirectly enhance our chances to score in other rankings too, and the increasing awareness of UP in more than the international scientific community will improve our starting position for establishing further international collaborations,” she said. The 2014 results correspond with a previous Thomson Reuters analysis via the Web of Science database that monitors citation impact of scholarly articles and bibliographic information from more than 12,500 prominent scientific journals across all disciplines. Palacký University achieved an above-average score in the years 2002 to 2011.
Excellence of Czech universities according to the first decile of citations The number stands for the total position in respective years among 5100 monitored institutes, regardless of size 2009
Czech Technical University in Prague
Brno University of Technology
Institute of Chemical Technology
Technical University of Ostrava
Source: Scimago žurnál 2015
received from the Czech budget for publications in scientific journals based on RIV evaluation is redistributed to the departments where the publications were made. “The finances are used for materials and equipment for research and, of course, for salaries of employees who generate excellent publications,” explained Zdeněk Dořák, UP Vice-Dean for Science and Research. Another motivational tool is the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Publication, including a financial award. Science at Palacký University, however, goes beyond the domain of natural science and medicine. The Faculty of Physical Culture has defended its primacy among Czech sports faculties in terms of research. Its academicians contributed less frequently to Czech peer-reviewed periodicals, but significantly increased the number of their publications in impact journals. According to Dean Jiří Lach, the Faculty of Arts also stands proudly in the field of science and research, thanks to extraordinary research projects that received international acclaim, a growing number of publications, and a strengthened scientific profile among faculties of Arts at three Czech “marbled hall” universities. He also pointed out the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. “The faculty management’s long-term goal and continually implemented approach is to systematically support academic work across disciplines and generations,” said Lach.
Research centres and top-level scientists According to Rector Miller, UP’s excellent publications largely result from the work of high-tech institutes that were developed with the support of EU funds: the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine (IMTM), Centre of the Haná Region for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, and the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM). “Needless to say, these and other institutes did not appear out of nowhere – the European funds only allowed their more intense development. Olomouc has always had an outstanding science and research base,” added the Rector. Distinguished experts of global renown in their disciplines are employed at the university and in its science centres. One of the key figures in the RCPTM is the chemist Pavel Hobza, who also works for the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Awarded Czech Mind 2008, he entered the Highly Cited Researchers list in 2014. One of the research programmes at the IMTM is led by the most cited Czech scientist in biomedicine, Jiří Bártek, Head of the Cell Cycle and Cancer Laboratory in the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen. Global authorities draw young scientists like magnets. For instance, Jiří Pospíšil, the 2014 laureate of the Alfred Bader Prize in Organic Chemistry, admitted that after many years spent abroad he decided to join the Centre of the Haná Region because of the opportunity to collaborate with superb experts such as Miroslav Strnad.
Still room to improve Despite the positive trend, there is still room for improvement. “We must maintain our ability to support especially the science disciplines in which we’re top-ranked – as well as our ability to present our research results and achievements to both Czech and international experts,” concluded Rector Miller.
Emphasis on excellence The Faculty of Science lays emphasis on excellent publications. The financial support
Comparison of FPC, FPES, and FSS in 5-year periods 2004–2008 | 2005–2009 | 2006–2010 | 2007–2011 | 2008–2012 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 6 000 5 000 4 000
Faculty of Physical Culture, Olomouc
Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Prague
Faculty of Sport Studies, Brno
Source: Ministry of Education 4
text: Matěj Dostálek | photo: Kristýna Erbenová
Noam Chomsky, the Phenomenon Noam Chomsky’s visit to Olomouc capped his several-week-long European lecture tour. Yet the 85-year-old founder of Generative Grammar, and left-wing intellectual icon, was still full of energy.
Just before noon on Wednesday, June 4, Prof Chomsky arrived by train in Olomouc to take part in a 36-hour whirlwind visit: a sold-out public debate in the Metropol cinema, a press conference, and a lecture at the Olomouc Linguistics Colloquium (Olinco), organised by the Department of English and American Studies. And as with other famous guests, it was true that the most famous global academic celebrities are possible to “get” almost exclusively through personal contacts: one of Chomsky’s former pupils, Prof Joseph Emonds, lectures in Linguistics at Palacký University. “The last time we met was two years ago at a conference, and he mentioned Olomouc. He is a distinguished linguist, whom I much admire, and so I took him up on his invitation,” explained Chomsky on his arrival. Although, in his words, he is “flooded” with email and invitations, he takes his correspondence seriously. The details of his itinerary however are left to secretaries at his home university of MIT. Chomsky’s visit was preceded by a long period of preparations, with several
university departments and faculties taking part. From the very start it was clear that before Chomsky’s arrival, an appropriate hall must be found, as well as a registration system that would prevent anarchy. And because of a live broadcast by Radio Wave, it was necessary to begin precisely at 7pm. A 30-member crew was at work not only preparing the stage, lights and seating, but also the necessary equipment for simultaneous translation and audiovisual recording, which less than ten hours later was on the Palacký University YouTube channel; meanwhile, Chomsky had arrived at his hotel, where more correspondence awaited him. “Go ahead and open it,” Chomsky told Vice-Rector Petr Bilík, who had brought him a huge package, which Chomsky’s wife had sent to the hotel ahead of time. Inside was a briefcase. “It’s full of books I collected during my tour—I have no place to put them,” Chomsky explained. Accompanied by the Olinco organiser, Ludmila Veselovská, Chomsky found the time to look at the monuments on Olomouc’s Upper Square. It was clear that Prof Chomsky was able manage his gruelling tour by
operating in ‘energy-efficient mode’, which explains his moderate requests for meals and accommodation. On Thursday morning, Chomsky had an audience at the Rector’s Office, where he was welcomed by the former university rector, Prof Josef Jařab. In 1969, Prof Jařab had been to see Chomsky lecture at MIT several times. “I used to live around the corner on Franklin Street. At the time I was Roman Jacobson’s chauffeur, when Jacobson was at odds with Chomsky—he pointed him out to me,” remembered Jařab. Immediately afterwards a press conference took place. The media storm which ensued after Chomsky’s comments about Czech dissidents was intensely followed by Chomsky, one of the most important intellectuals today, on his way to Prague. Chomsky took the reaction calmly. “That’s how the media works,” he said, then added that the majority of the media took their news from ČTK, the official Czech News Agency. “Too bad those people who reacted so strongly to my comments are not here—it would have made for a lively debate,” commented Chomsky, adding that he was sorry his European tour had come to a close. žurnál 2015
8 faculties 1 university
Dean’s Wish Comes True: Faculty of Law Receives First Accreditation for Awarding Docentships The Faculty of Law has received its first accreditation for awarding docentships. By decision of the Ministry of Education, for the next four years the faculty can name docents —Associate Professors— in the field of Civil Law. “We satisfied all the requirements of the accreditation commission. And for me, it was a dream come true to have now entered
a second period of functionality,” said Dean Milana Hrušáková, in her seventh year as dean, unable to conceal her joy. At the same time, the dean expects the faculty in the near future to go further: “I am counting on accreditation within a few years for awarding docentships in Criminal, and International and European Law,” she said.
The dean connects the faculty’s promising future with its development to date. “In 2009, we extended studies with a doctoral programme as well as a new Master’s programme in Law which greatly differed from other institutions. We’ve significantly increased our publications and the grants awarded to us,” stated the Dean, with pride. (mav)
Chemist Pavel Hobza Among the World’s Most Cited Scientists Chemist Pavel Hobza has appeared on the list of the world’s most cited scientists, according to the Web of Science database. Besides working in the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Hobza is also a key scientific figure at the Faculty of Science and its Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials. “To be included in the Highly Cited Researchers database is a great honour for me, of course, as well as satisfaction. It means that our work is more than meaningful, having such a significant response in the world’s scientific literature,” said Hobza. 6
Prof. Hobza gained his reputation mainly by his discovery of improper, blue-shifting hydrogen-bonding. It aroused great interest in the worldwide scientific community for until then it had been assumed that no new discoveries could be made in the area of hydrogen bonds. His theory was soon confirmed by laboratory experiments. His scientific achievements include the elucidation of the role of stacked interactions in DNA and proteins and the explanation of the role of dispersion energy in biomacromolecules. Approximately 3000 researchers were included in the top one percent of the most cited scientists due to their high number
of publications and their reception in the scholarly world. The Web of Science lists 486 articles by Hobza, with more than 25,000 citations. His H-Index is 87. (srd)
Peter Tavel Takes Over Leadership of Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology In mid-September Peter Tavel received his nomination decree and accepted the position of Dean of the Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology. The result of the March Academic Senate election had to wait until the approval nihil obstat from the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome. One of the Dean’s first steps was to name his vice-deans and his new advisory board. He made only minor changes: “My idea was to maintain the status quo,” he said. Peter Tavel was voted Dean by the senators on March 19, the only candidate for the position. “I had a huge advantage in that I didn’t have to make any unpopular decisions regarding the faculty. Rather we need to consider what direction we should be heading in for the next few years, what place the Theological Faculty should have in society, in the Church, and in Olomouc,” he said directly after his election.
With regards to the ties between the Theological Faculty and the Church, legal stipulations state that the result of the Academic Senate has to be approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education
in Rome. The task of requesting the nihil obstat fell upon the Great Chancellor of the faculty, Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner. (caf, mav)
photos: Pavel Konečný, Stu Rosner
Daniel Schacter Lectures on Human Memory Harvard University Professor Daniel Schacter accepted an invitation from the Faculty of Arts to give a lecture in Olomouc. Author of the book The Seven Sins of Memory (translated into twenty languages), he talked about his research concerned with memory and its findings. In front of dozens of students, teachers, and members of the general public, Schacter went through the seven sins of memory just as he describes them in his book—including more recent information. He also mentioned regressive recollection of associations. Barbora Burešová, a student of Psychology in Olomouc, found Schacter’s lecture inspirational. “Testing caught my attention—once a student knows he is going to be tested at the end of the lecture, he or she is more focussed during the lecture. His words on day dreaming, digressing from a topic, and the lack of concentration were interesting, too,” Burešová said. In his research, Schacter is focussing on the difference between explicit and implicit forms of memory, the nature of memory failures, and the consequences of ageing. He is also interested in the way
people use their memory when they are trying to imagine future events, or in possible improvements of learning processes. He has authored more than 250 publications and received dozens of awards, including the American Psychology Association Award.
Ten years ago, Schacter categorised memory faults into seven “sins”. These consist of transcience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence. During his Olomouc lecture, he also introduced the latest research on absent-mindedness. (map)
Dentistry Students Save the Dummies… for Training A new open-door classroom for Dentistry, with ten refurbished manikins, was opened at the end of November at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. The dummies will serve medical students who want to practise pulling teeth in their free time, making this a unique facility in the Czech Republic. “These were decommissioned dummies, down in the cellar. We thought we could use them when we were training for a teeth polishing contest, and we had to really convince the clinic that we wanted to train on them,” explained Jakub Kania, a fourth-year student. Dean Milan Kolář, during the opening ceremonies, gave credit to the students for the facility. “I think it was a great idea. We are the only Czech medical faculty which has such a classroom,” said the Dean. The faculty spent about €22,000 refurbishing the dummies, and the
Dentistry students association also received instruments to work with in the classroom. Students can work on the dummies from morning to 7pm, even on weekends.
Each year roughly 100 new students enter studies in Dentistry at UP. They will meet the dummies at their very first training session. Students will have to wait another year to pull teeth from real patients. (caf)
Speech Therapy Studies Found Excellent in International Ranking Speech Therapy at the Faculty of Education is setting trends in the international field. This has been confirmed recently by the international NetQues project examining the study of the discipline in 31 countries, including the Czech Republic. One of its conclusions is that the study of Speech Therapy in Olomouc ranks among
The training of correct articulation. 8
the world’s most high-quality and demanding educational programmes in its category. This recognition opens doors for further important research projects in Olomouc. The main objective of the project was an analysis of requirements placed on pre-graduate education in Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) within the Eu-
ropean Union countries and in the United States. Furthermore, the essential common core competencies for therapists were delineated. “The UP study programme was evaluated as one of the best, because unlike in other countries, its entire Master’s programme is accredited. We have also been praised for the fact that our programme is a follow-up on Special Education essentials, which is not common world-wide. This strategy has thus proven its worth,” said Kateřina Vitásková, Head of the Speech and Language Therapy programme. Due to the participation in the project, an extensive academic-professional network of educators and employers in the field of SLT was created. The faculty will maintain professional contacts with them in the years to come. Academic papers by Olomouc experts will be able to gain entrance to the prestigious impact journal Pholia Phoniatrica et Logopedica, and Olomouc SLT students will be able to study abroad. There is great interest in the study of logopaedics in Olomouc, with approximately 300 applicants annually for only 15 places. (srd)
8 faculties / 1 university Mark Latash: Keynote Speaker at Movement Analysis Conference U. S. Professor Mark L. Latash, Penn State University, led the workshop for physiotherapists at the international conference Movement Analysis, organised by the Faculty of Health Sciences. “His workshop and lecture greatly contributed to our research and further scientific work. In addition, many participants have their own clinical
practice, where they will apply this knowledge,” said Petra Bastlová from the Institute of Physiotherapy, on behalf of the organisers. In his research, Latash frequently collaborates with the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.A. and his findings are applied in neurological and physiotherapeutic practice. Latash has more than
15,000 citations. He calls his discipline “physics of living systems”. The conference at the Institute of Physiotherapy hosted about 150 Czech and Slovak participants. The program was focused on the analysis of movement and consisted of presentations in kinetic analysis, posturography and surface electromyography, including their practical applications. (caf)
photos: Pavel Konečný, Martin Višňa | vizualisation: Atelier-r
BALUO Centre Construction Commenced: Hammering on the Foundation Stone In the sporting spirit, representatives of Palacký University, the City of Olomouc and the Olomouc Region commenced construction on the BALUO (Bases of Application Life Utilities Olomouc) application centre at the Faculty of Physical Culture. Research on human movement will be combined with practical experiments concerning the development of new sporting and rehabilitative aids and devices. By the construction of the application centre, the faculty will obtain more than 4,000 square metres of sporting facilities, a test hall, a swimming pool, laboratories, prototype workshops, and other facilities. In 2015, the new building will be followed by renovation of a former army laundry, where modern laboratories for the Centre for Kinanthropological Research will be built. “The heart of the campus will be a fifty-metre-long test running track. It will be a sort of caterpillar, connecting all the other complexes,” said Miroslav Pospíšil from Atelier-r in Olomouc, one of the authors of the project’s architectural design. Other complexes will accommodate a twenty-five-metre-long swimming pool with a test swimming track and a pool with counter current, a sports hall, and a smaller multi-purpose gym with tatami mats, trampoline pit, and climbing wall. The test facilities will be equipped with state-of-the-art recording devices. The BALUO Centre will also be aimed commercially at companies who are seeking inspiration for new products and services in the area of healthy lifestyle and movement activities, and to professional sports teams. “Our intention has not been to build
the most up-to-date centre in the Czech Republic, but the most up-to-date centre in the whole of Central Europe—we aspire to be more than a Czech university,” Rector Miller told reporters. According to the Faculty of Physical Culture Dean Zbyněk Svozil and Olomouc Mayor Martin Major, the BALUO Centre will also contribute to a healthy lifestyle in the neighbourhood, as it will be open to the public. “All generations, from youths to senior citizens, will be able to benefit from the
range of activities provided here,” explained Svozil. Costs of the construction are expected to amount to €6 million; Palacký University received €4.5 million from the Prosperity support scheme under the Enterprise and Innovation Operational Programme. The reconstruction of the former laundry, a remnant from the expulsion of the Soviet Army, into a modern kinanthropological centre will cost €4.5 million. The whole sporting-research complex should be completed in 2016.
Hammering on the BALUO foundation stone. From left to right: Radek Hanuš (Faculty of Physical Culture Vice-Dean), Jan Březina, Jiří Rozbořil (Olomouc Region Governor), Jaroslav Miller (UP Rector), Martin Major (Olomouc Mayor), Zbyněk Svozil (Faculty of Physical Culture Dean), Jaromír Uhýrek (construction firm Gemo), and Olomouc Archbishop Jan Graubner.
text: Martina Šaradínová | photos: Viktor Čáp, RCPTM archives
The study of iron nanoparticles requires measurements at low temperatures. Petr Novák prepares the Mössbauer spectrometer to measure samples at the temperature of 5 K.
Breakthrough Environmental Nanotechnologies from Olomouc Palacký University is among the leaders in European environmental research, due to the activities of the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM), which participates in key projects in water treatment and soil remediation. The common denominator is nanomaterials, materials consisting of particles 100–1000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
“We conduct both basic and applied research. Our approach is very complex and includes development of new nanomaterials, their optimisation and transfer to the production phase, and pilot testing at sites with a specific type of contamination,” said Jan Filip of the RCPTM. Researchers are involved in a number of national projects, and co-ordinate the Czech national Competence Centre called Environmentally Friendly Nanotechnologies and Biotechnologies in Water and Soil Treatment. “It is the most extensive Czech environmental project, supported by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic, whose allocation amounts to almost €12 million. Apart from three academic institutions, six industrial companies are also involved, specialising in environmental remediation. Technologies developed in our Centre are commonly applied in practice,” said Radek Zbořil, the Director of the Competence Centre and General Director of the RCPTM. Similar research is conducted within the Nanorem project, financed from the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union. This venture brings together 28 partners, mostly from European countries. The Olomouc team is in charge of the
development of nanomaterials which are subsequently field-tested in a number of European sites in groundwater treatment. Iron nanoparticles dominate Olomouc researchers most often work with iron nanoparticles, which alter the physical and chemical parameters of groundwater and react with certain types of contaminating agents. They can break them down chemically or transform them from highly toxic forms into less toxic solid states. With the help of nanotechnologies, Olomouc scientists are able to dispose of dozens of toxic substances from water, thus contributing to toxic waste disposal in sites where non-ecological plants operated in the past, or where former Soviet Army troops were stationed. The new technologies have proved their high efficacy in pilot remediation as well as in real-world practice. They facilitated decontamination of the premises of an industrial complex in Hořice, where the groundwater was contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons. On the premises of the Kara textile company in Trutnov, they contributed to treatment of groundwater contaminated with chromium(VI), used abundantly in the fur-making industry.
Preparation of nano-iron samples for their phase analysis by means of RTG powder diffractometer. žurnál 2015
Can nanotechnologies deal with cyanobacteria? According to scientists, iron nanoparticles might be used in decontamination of groundwater from cyanobacteria. Together with their colleagues from Brno, Olomouc scientists have been testing technologies efficiently eradicating these unwanted “water blooms”. “Materials based on iron can release phosphorus, which is the key nutrient for cyanobacteria. In addition, they degrade their cells and absorb the released toxins produced by these organisms,” explained Zbořil. Nanotechnologies are relied upon also in the solution of one of the gravest ecological problems of today, which is the presence of arsenic in drinking water in many Asian countries, Europe, the United States, and South America. Arsenic contamination could be relatively easily removed by filters containing iron nanoparticles developed at the RCPTM. Another possibility is using iron compounds in high oxidation states (ferrates). These are capable of superior elimination of arsenic and its firm chemical embedding in secondary formed iron oxides, thereby
preventing its secondary release into the environment, which is the main drawback of current adsorption technologies. After the application of nano-iron, only non-toxic iron oxides remain in the water, similar to minerals naturally occurring in rocks and soils. The Brno company Asio, in collaboration with Olomouc scientists, has developed reactors that could be used in water, along with ferrate application, for removal of arsenic or residues of pharmaceutical products, hormonal contraceptives, herbicides, heavy metals, and microorganisms. “These materials are aimed at purification and disinfection of drinking, surface, and wastewater or soil. They also have a great potential for treatment of chemical and biological warfare agents. Our future research will test these materials for application in industrial accidents or toxic spillages. Ferrates have a very rapid effect,” explained Filip. Where traditional methods fail The potential of application of nanomaterials in water treatment is immense.
A cluster of iron nanoparticles through a transmission electron microscope. 12
“They are capable of eliminating contamination that cannot be removed by any other technology. Nanoparticles are conveyed to groundwater through a system of drills and then work independently. There’s no need to separate them and rinse huge quantities of soil or rocks, or draw the water to the ground and then treat it expensively,” clarified Filip. In other projects, Olomouc experts are investigating the optimisation of materials currently used for water filtration. Their patented technology allows antimicrobial treatment of filters and membranes using nanosilver. Nanosilver is firmly embedded in the structure of the material, so it is not released into the environment. Such modified filters and membranes are more resistant to the development of biofilms, allowing their lifetime to be extended, which has a significant economic impact. Researchers are not only investigating the processes of water and soil treatment, but are also considering the impact of new technologies on the environment. Their focus extends even to reaction products for application of new technologies.
text: Martina Šaradínová photos: Pavel Konečný | Kristýna Erbenová | Petr Hašler
Young Algologist Reveals Ancient History of Cyanobacteria The scientific community has gained a clearer understanding of the evolution of cyanobacteria of the Synechococcus group. It is one of the largest groups of cyanobacteria, widespread from the poles to the equator, in the sea as well as on land. Petr Dvořák, a phycologist from the Faculty of Science, has compared their genes and constructed, with the help of molecular biology, the first complex phylogenetic tree of this group, an interpretation of its evolution. It shows that cyanobacteria have been living on the Earth for more than 3 billion years. Although most of us would associate cyanobacteria with the unwanted “water blooms”, which make bathing and swimming in many ponds and lakes problematic, cyanobacteria are vital in nature. They survive everywhere where sunlight is available, even in extreme temperatures. They function as primary producers, conducting oxygenic photosynthesis as well as plants. Their metabolism produces oxygen and sugar and fixates nitrogen, which is utilised by other organisms.
Investigated genes and the tree of life Petr Dvořák from the Department of Botany has been shedding light in the last two years mainly on the Synechococcus group dominant in the maritime environment. It is one of the most important components of photosynthetic picoplankton under the ocean surface. “We have used various molecular methods to reconstruct the evolutionary tree of this genus. Phylogenetic analyses are most commonly used for this purpose.
Mgr. Petr Dvořák, Ph.D. (b. 1984) He graduated Palacký University, where he defended his Ph.D. thesis in 2013. He gained experience during scholarships at John Carroll University in Cleveland and the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Cyanobacteria are reproduced in cultures on media containing basic nutrients vital for their metabolism. The cultures are preserved, for example, in Erlenmeyer flasks.
On the basis of algorithms of DNA sequences, we can estimate the hierarchical timeline of evolution,” explained Dvořák. Evolution of cyanobacteria differs from that of plants or humans. Cyanobacteria live in huge populations, and genetic exchange occurs very frequently. And it is not by means of reproduction, since they do not reproduce sexually, their genetic material is transferred among the cells themselves.
Cyanobacteria The oldest photosynthetic organisms on the planet. Their simple structure allows them to survive extremely adverse conditions. They often live in symbiosis with other organisms. Their reproduction is asexual. Their name comes from the Greek word for blue, cyanos. Algology (from algae) is a branch of biology studying algae and cyanobacteria. It deals with the systematisation, phylogenesis, and ecology of these organisms. It also includes physiology, biochemistry, and genetics.
Cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. PCC 6717 living in thermal springs in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Individual cells form simple “threads”, consisting of two cells.
Scientists have discovered that the quantity of these exchanges depends on time. The newer the lineage is, the more gene transfers occurred. “The research has confirmed that cyanobacteria of the Synechococcus group have been on the Earth for about 3 billion years. They alter genetically and develop various evolutionary lines. They have survived here for a uniquely long time. Their existence is many times longer than that of plants or animals, not mentioning humans. This has been a matter of speculation in the past, but now we have another proof it’s really so,” said Dvořák, hardly concealing his enthusiasm. Scientists have described thousands of cyanobacteria species to date; however, dozens of thousands exist on the Earth according to estimations. Unique plenitude of data Dvořák and his colleagues utilised also a genome sequence of a new genus of cyanobacteria found in a peatbog in Slovakia. It was named Neosynechococcus. Along with it, genes of another 200 cyanobacteria species were analysed. “Until now, scientists have explored only the maritime or freshwater cyanobacteria within each group. I’ve put them all together,” explained Dvořák. Their latest findings were published in the journal Molecular Ecology in September 2014. Olomouc botanists conducted the research
Cyanobacterium sp. PCC 7202, occurring in stagnant waters in Africa. This group is related to the Synechococcus genus.
jointly with the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Naples. Important fragment for understanding the ecosystem Concerning how very widespread cyanobacteria are in the world, the research findings are precious. “They appear in immense quantities in the world, possibly thousands of billions of cells. They greatly affect the global ecosystem, so it’s vital to know their evolution. This may be of significance in the future, too. The occurrence and quantity of maritime cyanobacteria of this genus keep changing in relation to global warming,” said Dvořák. For instance, maritime Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, belonging to the same group, are responsible for 25 percent of primary production of energy in the oceans. Produced sugars and oxygen are subsequently utilised by other organisms in the food chain. Some cyanobacteria are used in agriculture to make up for the lack of nitrogen in the soil. In rice fields, chemical fertilisers can be replaced with cyanobacteria that fixate nitrogen from the air. As a result, rice plants can thrive. Cyanobacteria are able to survive extreme conditions. They live in Antarctica as well as in mountain springs. One species was even isolated from polar bear hairs.
Neosynechococcus sphagnicola (cyanobacteria). This genus was recently described in the laboratory at the Department of Botany where its genome was also later sequenced. Elongated cells can be seen between cellular walls of peat moss.
discovery text: Martina Šaradínová illustration: Radim Měsíc
The magnetite particle binds with silver nanoparticles that contain molecules of a “key” on their surfaces, such as an antibody.
Olomouc Scientists Discover Method to Speed Detection of Serious Diseases Scientists from the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) have discovered a new method of isolating agents important for detection of serious illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease. Their procedure is based on unique properties of nanoparticles and may be employed on an extensive scale due to its high sensitivity as well as its simple and speedy application. In order to separate and analyze targeted molecules, a patented nanocomposite of magnetite and silver nanoparticles was used. “The silver nanoparticles are modified with specific molecules, which function as a sort of key. This key fits perfectly into the structure of the targeted agent, present for instance in blood, urine, or cerebrospinal fluid. In our case, the targeted agent becomes a sort of keyhole,” said Radek Zbořil, Director of the RCPTM. The targeted molecules are separated magnetically, and then the nanosilver is used to determine their level in extremely low concentrations. This is done by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, which is one of the most sensitive spectroscopic methods in analytical chemistry.
Dopamine and immunoglobulin G This procedure has been used by the RCPTM researchers, for example, to determine the level of dopamine in cerebrospinal fluid. A low level of this neurotransmitter (a chemical that transmits signals between brain cells) is associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s. “The new procedure allows us to measure its level in quantities that are a thousand times lower in comparison to other methods,” said Václav Ranc, one of the main authors of this new technology allowing the determination of biomolecules by means of nanoparticles. Two corporations operating in the biochemical and medical market have already expressed interest in the procedure. Fast, simple, and efficient The study describing the new findings by Olomouc researchers has recently been
displayed on the front page of the prestigious journal Analytical Chemistry, published by the American Chemical Society. The authors are confident in practical application of their technology, since it has several advantages. “The determination itself takes only a few minutes and the necessary technical equipment is approximately ten times cheaper than other methods used today,” said Zbořil. The new technology may be applied to determine hundreds of other diagnostically relevant molecules, where the antigen-antibody complex is known. Olomouc scientists have also been developing diagnostics for selected tumorous diseases. It has potential in other areas as well – for instance in the detection of highly toxic materials in the environment or potentially harmful ingredients in the food and distilling industries. žurnál 2015
text: Martina Šaradínová photos: Monika Kukalová
Mediterranean Bats Take a Fancy to Olomouc The rare southern vesper bat, Kuhl’s pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlii), whose home is usually in the Mediterranean, paid a visit this year to Olomouc. Experts from the Faculty of Science immediately identified two individuals alerted to them by Olomouc citizens.
Kuhl’s pipistrelle is tiny, with a body 55 mm long, weighing 5–10 g. It is usually sandy-coloured along its spine, with most individuals having a 1–2 mm white edge to their wings between the fifth finger and foot.
This makes it the most northern sighting of this bat so far in Europe. However, these mammals live in colonies, so no doubt more of these small, brown sandy-coloured bats will be found in the city. “There are three similar types of bats in the Czech Republic, but to find Kuhl’s pipistrelle is quite rare,” said Evžen Tošenevský of the Faculty of Sciences and the Czech Association for the Protection of Bats. The first ever sighting of this bat in the Czech Republic was in Znojmo in 2007, then the year before last near Brno. The Olomouc sightings are now the third and fourth. Kuhl’s pipistrelle is a synanthropic animal, found in near vicinity with humans, and this is the case with the two sightings in Olomouc. The first case was a male found on Olomouc’s Lower Square. “It was an adult male, probably sheltering inside one of the houses to mate. Unfortunately, his wing was broken in two places, and he died a few days later,” said Tošenovský. In the
second case, people called experts to investigate a female. The question of why these tiny fliers have reached an area much further north than ever before is not an easy one to answer, say experts. The area covered by bat species often varies significantly. One example is another type of Pipistrellus— Pipistrellus nathusii (Nathusius’s pipistrelle). While twenty years ago it was rare in these parts, today it is one of the most widespread Czech bats. Olomouc’s “visitors” may well have been influenced by last year’s mild winter. Bats are among those animals which have not been studied in exhaustive detail. Distinguishing one type from another is practically impossible for laymen. There are 27 species of bats in the Czech Republic. They are found not only in parks and caves as many think, but also for example in crevices in housing estates. All bats are legally protected, and their homes as well.
WorldRenowned Musicologist, Honorary Doctor at Palacký University
For forty years, Michael Beckerman has been building a systematically close relationship between Czech and American Music Studies, fundamentally contributing to the research and promotion of Czech musical culture. text: Milada Hronová photography: Vladislav Galgonek žurnál 2015
November 12: Michael Beckerman receives his honorary doctorate from Palacký University.
There were no musicians in Beckerman’s family, nor have any of his three children become involved in music. His father was a theatre director and leading Shakespeare scholar, while his mother worked as an actress and university teacher. She also writes poems. “I played piano as a child and chose Musicology simply because it allows me to do everything I want in life: I can play, compose, write lyrics, lecture, and even devote some of my time to research.” When he was first invited to Olomouc by the Department of Musicology, it was the year 1997, and Beckerman would have never thought then that the university in this city (which has become his second home) would award him with an honorary doctorate. “It is a miracle! I have so many outstanding colleagues, and none of them has been so lucky. Even though this is not the end of my career, it makes me feel I need to stop for a moment and contemplate what comes next.” It was this year—the Year of Czech Music—when the academic boards of the Faculties of Arts and Education acknowledged the extraordinary contribution of Michael Beckerman to Czech musical culture and Czech university education. An American citizen who admires Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček and other 18
Czech composers, Beckerman has been working with his Czech counterparts since the 1970s. He has also been debating Czech music with leading experts in Prague and Brno, although his closest colleagues are the musicologist, composer, and UP Vice-Rector Vít Zouhar, and Mikuláš Bek, the Masaryk University Rector. One of their favourite arguments is what constitutes Czech music and what does not. “We still have our doubts. We may not be questioning Dvořák, but what about Gustav Mahler or music with not only Czech, but also Hungarian lyrics? This kind of music has its specifics, and we are considering if it fits into the concept of the Czech musical tradition. For example, while I might hear African rhythms in Pavlica’s songs, I do not see them as a violation of the concept. I think it would be much better for Czech music if we accepted certain overlaps.” Czech music is something which Beckerman hears in his heart. When he heard Dvořák for the first time, it was—according to his own words—the most beautiful music he had ever heard. And the same happened to him when he was later listening to Martinů, Janáček, and other composers. However, do not talk to him about musical geniuses: Beckerman claims that
every genius in the history of music (including Mozart) was just an incredibly talented and able person. The world-renowned expert became interested in the Czechs already during the 1970s while studying at Hofstra University in New York, where he came across the work of composer Hanuš Schimmerling (and to whom he devoted his doctoral address). “A good musicologist has to be persistent, hardworking, committed to his work, and above all honest with himself. Working in this field can be very frustrating, because it is hard to learn about musical history, understand music, and to be able to speak about it. And there is one more thing—do not fool yourself and believe that you actually understand what you are doing. It is similar to the universe: the more we learn, the more complicated it gets.” Michael Beckerman lectures at New York University, where he has influenced hundreds of students, and he says that a lecturer should always take risks. “If all the students like your lecture, there is something wrong, and you have most likely not said anything important or essential.” At least twenty of Beckerman’s former students are now lecturing on Czech music at universities not only in the USA, but all over the world.
Beckerman’s recent trip to Olomouc was a great experience—not only for musicologists, but for all music enthusiasts who attended his lectures ‘Musical Translations, Poetry Reading: Chinese Poems Set to Music by Pavel Haas’. According to Zdena Plachá from the music web portal Opera Plus, the song cycle ‘Čtyři písně na slova čínské poesie’ (‘Four Songs Reflecting Chinese Poetry’) was a truly exceptional performance. Ghetto, Terezín, China! Its rendition allowed Plachá to inspect the feelings of a person in a critical point in his life, one who is still unbroken, desirous, and full
of hope and optimism. Jiří Přibyl, a vocalist from the Moravian Theatre, confirmed that singing ‘Four Songs’ was the most demanding vocal performance of his career. Today, Michael Beckerman is working on three books, is a member of the committee of the Czech Center in New York, and Vice-President of the Dvořák American Heritage Association. He admits that he has no leisure time, and if he finds a few minutes to spare, he prefers to spend them in the garden—sometimes with a book, the one now is on the situation in Central Europe between 1945 and 1955. Prof. Michael Beckerman (b. 1951)
Department of Music Education
Vice-Rector | Department of Musicology
“Michael Beckerman, in my opinion, represents the ideal university Music Education teacher, one who has to be both a great musician (Beckerman is an outstanding piano player and occasional composer) and also an accomplished researcher. In addition, he is a “showman” who enchants his students, and a hardworking populiser of music in the newspapers, radio, and television. He is an outstanding example of the type of Music Education I have been trying to establish at Palacký University Olomouc since 1990. We are lucky that Beckerman, an American citizen, decided to study and research primarily Czech music, particularly the works of Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů, Jaroslav Ježek, Adam Michna z Otradovic, but also Ervin Schulhoff, Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, and other personalities from Terezín. He is the author of six books and anthologies, dozens of studies, and has given hundreds of lectures all over the world, influencing a great many students with his teaching – at least twenty of whom are lecturing about Czech music at American universities and elsewhere. At the University of California, Beckerman started a foundation supporting research into Czech music, managing to raise USD 350,000. If we take into account how inadequate our current governmental cultural diplomacy in the field of music is, it is hard not to see how important the new Palacký University Honorary Doctor is for the international representation of Czech music culture.”
“Not many researchers are able to attract and interest people who are not really familiar with their field of study. Prof Michael Beckerman is one of the few with this ability. I am not overstating it when I say he is a stand-up scholar: an academician who aims at the heart of the matter in a provocative and unconventional manner, yet profoundly amusing his audience. I do not exactly remember when we met for the first time—maybe it was the end of the 1980s when I studied Musicology in Brno, maybe it was thanks to my father ten years before that. And maybe I heard of him only later, in 1988, when he organised a legendary conference on Leoš Janáček at Washington University in St. Louis. It was where the Czechoslovak and American musicologists met for the first time—thanks to Beckerman. It seems to me that we have known each other forever, because all of his sweepingly inspirational studies, books and lectures have always seemed so familiar to me. I will never forget when he was in Texas explaining the relationship between local and global using as example the conceptual song ‘Inside’ by Ivo and Sára Medek and the song ‘Ej lásko, lásko’; his comparison between Bohuslav Martinů’s compositions and Mandelbrot’s fractal sets; his specific explanation of Janáček’s terminology or the fundamentals of Dvořák’s or Haas’s compositions. A meeting in his flat in Greenwich Village was also an unforgettable experience when it turned into an unexpected concert with Beckerman and his wife playing and singing Moravian folk songs. Or an improvised piano concert in Dobratice, where my three-year-old son was using a toy truck to bang on the piano keys along with Mike. Michael Beckerman is always showing us how important these connections are, and how important is to think about them.”
After graduating from Columbia University, he spent a brief period of time in Brno researching the theoretical work of Leoš Janáček. He has been giving lectures on Czech music all around the world, including in the Czech Republic, and has organised several international conferences about the works of Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Bohuslav Martinů, and other composers. He has published six books and anthologies about Czech music, and sixty studies. He has also written numerous articles for American newspapers and has been a guest on many TV and radio shows in the USA, UK, Germany, and Japan. For his achievements and promotion of Czech music, Beckerman has received medals from the Leoš Janáček Society, the Antonín Dvořák Society, the Bohuslav Martinů Society, and the Czech Ministry of Culture. He has also been awarded by the Czech Music Board, and received a certificate of merit from the Parliament of the Czech Republic. In addition, Beckerman is the founder of the Czech Music Foundation at the University of California.
text: Pavel Konečný, photos: AFO
Fifty Times More than Just a Festival Academia Film Olomouc (AFO) is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2015. However, this festival of popular science films has long been a significant exhibition of audiovisual communication of science in the European context. Festival Director Matěj Dostálek, who became involved in the organisation of the event already as a student in 2007, will be in charge of AFO’s fiftieth birthday celebrations. “2007 was the first year it was organised by the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the Faculty of Arts. According to statistics, there was a record number of 670 accredited visitors in that year,” recalled Dostálek. Seven years later and the number is six times higher; there were 4,067 accreditations for this year’s AFO—and more than 300 Czech and foreign guests, scientists and professionals from the audiovisual industry. “I am sure that all the activities of our university regarding the festival are paying off. Who would have dared to say that 20
an event consisting of one small classroom, one projector and a small audience would become so huge in fifty years?” exclaimed Dostálek. His team is also trying to think about its main themes and potential guests on a long-term basis. “We have recently drifted far away, when we caught ourselves talking about the schedule for 2016, although we have not yet officially presented the main theme of this fiftieth anniversary: our planet. The gripping films in the section “Rise and Fall” will provide a close look at the rise and fall of civilizations and animal species. The audience will have a chance to see life in ancient Egypt, walk with dinosaurs, admire Viking culture or glimpse the secrets of life,” said AFO Programme Director Jakub Ráliš.
“With the growing popularity of the festival, organisation and preparations have grown, becoming more and more time-consuming. It could be divided into four different demanding phases basically over the four seasons. However, some things need to be organised more than a year in advance: for example, it is essential to secure non-university resources in advance, because they represent the primary source of AFO financing,“ AFO Director Matěj Dostálek detailed.
Director Matěj Dostálek leading the AFO team. From left to right: Jakub Korda Ondřej Čížek Jan Jendřejek Martina Juříková Petr Vlček Matěj Dostálek Jakub Ráliš Jana Jedličková Lucie Klevarová Diana Gallasová Marek Čermák
Seeing over knowing The fiftieth birthday is being sophisticatedly reflected in its visual presentation: “A series of posters is going to illustrate technological achievements of the past fifty years in two versions—the first showing how people imagined them fifty years ago, and the second showing how they actually look now,” explained Dostálek. The management of the festival has a long-term concept of graphic design and its own visual identity—the three-year design plan of the ReDesign studio consists of uniform typography and layout with a new slogan and graphic motif for every year.
“It gives us a great deal of variability when working with our brand. For releases of a steady or conservative character, we use a heading complemented with photographs. In this way, we published a magazine AFO 2014 for guests and partners of the festival. For street campaigns and advertisements, we are, on the other hand, using such slogans and graphic motifs that should attract attention, raising questions or even eyebrows,” said Dostálek. According to the Director, the upcoming jubilee will be intentionally presented as a relaxed comparison of imaginative vision and reality.
The AFO Platform Today, Academia Film Olomouc is not just a festival. For several years, it has also been serving as an educational platform for students of the Faculty of Arts. Students receive credits for their participation in the organisation of the festival, for helping with dramaturgy or publishing; the best ones even receive stipends. Many undergraduates are also choosing the genre of popular science films as the topic of their Master’s theses. The Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies has been running a project for the past two years called AFO: žurnál 2015
Program Director Jakub Ráliš during this year’s projection.
Practical Networking of Audiovisual Popularisation of Science, which enables students to join Czech and foreign production companies and institutions engaged in the popularisation of science. “The experience gained will help them not only in their own further research, but will also contribute crucially to the further development of the festival—due to their new knowledge and valuable contacts. We have had the opportunity, thanks to this unique project, to visit world famous festivals, congresses and conferences focused on science communication, where we had the chance to personally meet top experts in the field of science and the film industry. Consequently, it was not so hard for us to persuade them to come to AFO,” noted Ráliš. AFO Distribution In November, the AFO team attended for the fourth time the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers—the most important event of its kind, this year in Hong Kong. Here top experts in their respective 22
fields meet with directors of television and production companies such as the BBC, PBS, ABC, Discovery, and Atlantic. “This year, apart from having the opportunity to watch the latest developments in scientific documentary films and to establish personal contacts with producers, we are presenting ourselves for the first time also as producers and distributors. It is actually in the film distribution field where we have recently achieved several significant accomplishments,” noted Dostálek. Via AFO, Palacký University has started to choose and distribute films for Czech scientific centres. “Personally, I think this is an important milestone in both AFO and UP activities, one which has the potential to make popular science films to become the most attended documentaries in Czech cinemas within the next two years,” expressed Dostálek. The first contract was the distribution of five top-quality documentaries to the educational centre Svět techniky in Ostrava, where the films will be shown in the biggest Czech non-commercial 3D cinema.
“Our job was to use our expertise and choose the films, obtain licenses and arrange the dubbing. We won this contract in a competition,” added Ráliš. According to Ráliš, audiences should be looking forward to the 3D documentaries Flying Monsters with David Attenborough, where the famous naturalist reveals the secret of life of lesser-known prehistoric lizards; an adventurous journey with prehistoric Titans of the Ice Age, or The Last Reef—a documentary describing coral reefs as organic undersea cities visible from outer space. “We are also going to show Vlčie hory (The Wolf Mountains), a Slovak documentary depicting rare encounters with shy animals in an untouched ecosystem in such a suggestive way that it won the Audience Award at this year’s AFO. And we are not going to miss out on the Czech film Whose is My Child? dealing with the issue of the impact of genetic testing on parenthood—a television documentary that has also won several awards,” said Dostálek.
Made in AFO And there is more to AFO than buying and selling foreign films. Thanks to contacts made in the past few years, the organisers have become directly involved in the production of a three-part Australian TV series called Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail. “On this project, we are working together with the renowned Genepool Productions company, led by producer and Emmy Award-winner Sonya Pemberton. Thus in September, our production team spent five
shooting days in a spa and in mining areas in Jáchymov, where the opening scenes and other sequences for all three parts of this miniseries were shot,” confirmed Dostálek. The AFO team took care of everything: from setting up the shooting locations, production on site, to staff for the filming, and all translation services. Viewers will be guided through all three episodes by Derek Muller—one of the main guests of this year’s AFO, a presenter and video blogger with millions of followers.
The first hour-long episode should appear on TV during 2015. The AFO brand also brings together experts from scientific centres and the general public in an informal environment called Science Café shows. All the activities of Academia Film Olomouc are undoubtedly contributing not only to the improvement of communicating science to the public, but also help make Palacký University more visible and confirm its status as a progressive Czech university.
Uranium. Jakub Ráliš and Jiří Slavík (behind the camera). 3D cinema. Svět techniky, Ostrava
text: Pavel Konečný photos: Vladislav Galgonek | Orasis foto
Leona Axelsson: “Once a student, always an alumnus.” Leona Axelsson spent twelve years working so well with alumni at Sweden’s Örebro University that she received an offer to work with alumni at Stockholm University. Born in Vysoké Mýto, Czech Republic, Leona also recently worked as an adviser for building relationships with alumni at Palacký University. — What is most important in the relationship between universities and their alumni? It is necessary for every student to be satisfied both during and after their studies, and to want to stay in touch with their university. If students are not satisfied because they are not getting what they expected, or do not get a job in their field of study, then there is a big chance they would not want to stay in touch with their school. It is hard to attract these people again. Once a student, always an alumnus. But do they want to stay in touch with their alma mater? That 24
always depends on what they have experienced during their studies, or even before. — Even before? Well, yes – new students need to feel welcome and wanted. For example, they should have mentors – fellow students who would help with their first steps into university life. So that they feel there is something they want and admire. One needs to get used to new rules, a new lifestyle, and learning processes. During the first term, it is absolutely necessary to become enthusiastic about one’s field of study, or else try
She graduated from high school in Vysoké Mýto in the 1980s. She had always been fond of languages, but she did not pass the entrance exams to study interpreting at university, so she went to a hotel school and worked as a receptionist.
She arrived in a two-piece suit wearing a Stockholm University badge. “Every alumnus has this little reminder. Little, but important!” she notes. The current Swedish cabinet has twenty-four members, out of which ten are Stockholm University alumni. They all must have the same badge somewhere.
a different field. And then, it means more and more studying – but at the same time thinking about possible future careers: are one’s studies going to be of any use? — How does it work at Stockholm University? There are various approaches. We organise lectures on how to study in different fields, there are mentors assigned to new students and there are activities helping students to get used to university life. — So something like our “buddy” system? Yes, something like Erasmus, but every faculty is different. — Comparing classmates, is there a difference between Czech and Swedish students? I did not attend university in the Czech Republic, so I cannot really compare. Generally speaking, Swedish students have more freedom: it is their decision to work individually or in groups, there are not so many compulsory lessons but more individual responsibility. — How did you end up in Sweden? I had worked as a receptionist in the hotel Labe in Pardubice, and my husband Mikael Axelsson had been designing a factory in nearby Semtín. We were married twenty-five years ago and left for Örebro just after the Velvet Revolution. We managed to attend few protests before leaving in January 1990. My husband spent oneand-a-half years here, he learned a little Czech, liked Czech beer and dumplings. And he said that if I did not like Sweden, we could always return.
— Did you start immediately at the university? The original plan was to look for a job in the hotel industry because I like languages – but it did not happen. I was advised to get a university degree first, so I began to study Swedish, then English and eventually got my degree in Literature. Then I was offered a position at Örebro University. Örebro is in the middle of Sweden, about the same size as Hradec Králové. — And you got a job at the Department of International Relations? I worked there for twelve years. This was a smaller university of regional character – it has about fifteen thousand students. It was there where I formulated the rules of how to approach alumni. I drew my inspiration from the United States, Great Britain, and Finland. — What brought you to Stockholm? I was attending a conference in Great Britain three years ago, where I met the head of the Department of International Relations at Stockholm University. She was asking me about my work with our alumni, because the relationship with their alumni was faltering. Once there was a position open, they contacted me and I got the job. Now I am commuting two hours by train to Stockholm. — Every day? Almost. Once a week I am allowed to work from home, and the two hours spent working in the train are added to my work hours. We may eventually move to Stockholm. Our daughter Veronika is twenty-four and is already living on her own, so I and my husband can do what we want. žurnál 2015
The Library of Stockholm University.
— Can she speak Czech? Just a little, she is not bilingual. I spoke Czech to her before she started going to school, but then I focused on her to be perfect in Swedish because it had been hard for me. Also, she did not have any Czech-speaking friends of her age, and when we are here, even Czechs want to speak English with her. But she understands Czech. — What is her job? She is a make-up artist. She told me that she is not the studying type, she likes fashion
and wants to work in this field. Most important for me is that she is doing what she likes. — Work in the field – a popular topic in Sweden… Yes, it is important – even for students – to establish contacts with possible future employers. That is why we have career advisers at our university. — Career advisers? There is a central office, faculty offices and sometimes even offices at individual departments. In addition to career advisers,
we also organise lectures where students are advised by our alumni about what to do in their fields and how. — Is education considered a commodity in Sweden? Students receive study stipends, and they can also apply for low-rate student loans. There are many people over forty who study because the benefits are available until you are forty-five. It comes in handy if you want to change your career and you can get a stipend or loan. So you have twenty- and forty-year-olds in one classroom. The most im-
She likes to go to Swedish Hockey Games. The best are the Swedish national team games: “My husband wears a Swedish jersey; I wear a Czech one. Every time the Czechs win, we go to Švejk’s Pub. I support the Czech team, but I have dual citizenship, so I am happy no matter who wins.”
University of Stockholm: Frescati campus and Geo-Science building. 26
portant thing is long-term vision; and then observe that education is really useful for alumni, that it is important to them. — Are your visions evolving? A vision should have its horizons, but we adjust it according to the external conditions. The whole society is evolving, so we have to adapt. — Is there competition between universities? Yes, and it is reflected in various rankings. — Do you organise alumni reunions too? The Business School has a long tradition of reunions which take place every ten years. First, there is a lecture, then a panel discussion, and then individual departments have parallel evening programmes. It is important for the alumni to come here, learn some general knowledge, and then get a chance to debate their own fields with their colleagues. — Why is that important? It is vital for both the university and the alumni. If the university wants to prosper, it needs to know that the curriculum is meaningful. It is a huge and costly decision for a potential student, so he or she needs to be sure it will pay off, that it would help with their professional development. And alumni need to know what other seminars are available to them, how to get engaged – if they can give lectures, recruit workers among students for their companies or how to support the university. — Do the alumni support their alma mater? Stockholm University was established in 1878, thanks to grants from successful scientists, whose purpose was to provide an alternative to big universities – in order to offer the possibility of university education
to everyone. Today, the university is not funded by alumni, but mainly by the state; however, it was founded because of the afore-mentioned grants, and to this day some alumni contribute financially. But the biggest contributions come from them in the form of their time and advice. — Do the alumni receive any benefits? Yes. Above all, they can use all university cultural and sport facilities. Sometimes completely free, sometimes with a discount.
On her bedside table, we would most likely find Karel Čapek’s books. It comes as no surprise, because her Master’s thesis was called Narratology and Philosophy in Karel Čapek’s Trilogy. She rarely reads Scandinavian crime stories. “Only at the seaside during summer holidays.”
— Can you observe a closer relationship between alumni and teachers? It depends on the particular field of study. However, the closest relationship is usually seen between teachers, lecturers, and alumni, rather than between the former students themselves. The reason behind this is our decentralisation and too many courses: most of the students have different classmates for each course, but there can be exceptions. We definitely do not want to copy the American way – we do not organise any weekends with alumni who would bring their whole families to our campus; that is simply not a part of our European tradition. — So you are not planning to introduce such a scheme? Not unless there are significant changes. — What is, on the other hand, a part of European or Swedish culture and tradition? Our Technical Faculty is, for example, in touch with its alumni all over the world – we have around ten thousand alumni abroad. We have established alumni organisations in Japan, China, and the USA. The alumni are visited by their former professors, who bring interesting articles, give lectures, etc. There is a constant mutual exchange between them.
Her nephew studies at Palacký University: Ludvík Kalibán attends the Faculty of Education, so he can personally check whether his alma mater applies his aunt’s advice. žurnál 2015
Jaroslav Doležel Receives the Ministry Award for Research Jaroslav Doležel, the Science Director of the Centre of the Haná Region for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, received the Czech Ministry of Education Award for Outstanding Research, Experimental Development and Innovation. The globally renowned scientist was awarded for his extraordinary achievements in plant genome mapping.
“I knew about my nomination by Palacký University, but never expected to be chosen as one of the five finalists. All the greater was my delight. This is really recognition of our entire team’s long-term systematic work,” Doležel told Žurnál. He focusses on the study of the plant genome, its structure and changes throughout the evolution of plants, and development of new species. He and his team worked out new methods enabling
analysis of more complex genomes. He is the founder and pioneer of chromosome genomics to support mapping and sequencing of complex genomes and isolation of individual chromosomes. The research findings may have immediate practical application in agriculture. They are a foundation of new breeding methods that may increase yields as well as resistance to diseases and pests. (srd)
Immunologists Awarded for Collaboration in Development of Lyme Disease Vaccine
Karel Indrák Receives Prestigious Scientist of the Year Prize in Dubai
Experts from the Department of Immunology at the Faculty of Medicine succeeded in the Best Co-operation of 2014, a competition involving co-operation between companies and the research sphere. They took third place for their development of a vaccine against Lyme disease together with their colleagues from the Veterinary Research Institute in Brno, the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Institute of Physics at the Academy of Sciences in Prague, and Bioveta Inc. The competition is organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic, the Association for Foreign Investment, and the Czech Innovation project along with the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic. Michal Křupka, the Vice-Head of the Department of Immunology, said that the achievement is an impulse for further work. The most demanding task, clinical testing and registration, is still ahead. (srd)
The Minister of Culture and Social Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, sheik Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, awarded Prof. Karel Indrák from the Faculty of Medicine in Olomouc with the international Scientist of the Year prize in September in Dubai. His was rewarded Karel Indrák compared the prize to an for his research of congeni- Olympic medal. tal genetic disorders. “It is a prestigious prize and for me, it’s like an Olympic medal,” said Indrák upon his return to Olomouc. He appreciated the fact it is an acknowledgement by the international community and the decision of an independent committee which evaluated 24 candidates. “It is noteworthy that they acknowledged research findings from a country where this disorder is rare and had been considered non-existent until we began our research in 1990,” he added. Indrák and his Olomouc colleagues described the new mechanisms causing thalassemia and have identified new haemoglobinopathies. (caf)
The awards ceremony. Milan Raška, the Head of the Department of Immunology, is 2nd from the left. 28
Alfred Bader Prize Goes to Chemist Jiří Pospíšil The prestigious Alfred Bader Prize for Organic Chemistry 2014 was awarded to Jiří Pospíšil from the Centre of the Haná Region for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research for his achievements in development of new synthetic procedures and their applications in the preparation of natural substances. It is the most esteemed prize for young (under-35) chemists.
photos: Pavel Konečný, Velena Mazochpvá, NSR, Martina Šaradínová, MK archive
Bohumil Stoklasa (on the right), Martina Miková, and Ivo Straka in the Laboratory of Optics.
“My unrealistic dream came true. When I looked up to the previous winners as a graduate, they were my heroes, and I thought, I can never become one of them. It feels strange to hold the prize now,” confessed Pospíšil. Pospíšil mainly explores the development of new synthetic methods for producing biologically active natural substances and their derivatives. (srd)
Hat-Trick of Olomouc Physicists, Including 1st Prize Three awards, including first prize, went to postgraduate students of the Department of Optics in the Milan Odehnal Prize competition for young physicists in 2014. The winner was Bohumil Stoklasa, while his colleagues Martina Miková and Ivo Straka took third place and honorary mention. “My works, published in scientific journals, focussed on the improvement of the existing principles of tomographic methods. It’s also the theme of my dissertation,” said Stoklasa on his prize-winning work. He stood out in the competition of seventeen young talents from
Charles University, Czech Technical University in Prague, and the institutes of the Academy of Sciences. Stoklasa perceives his primacy in the prestigious contest as encouragement for further scientific work at the department. Third place went to Martina Miková’s work on quantum information processing. Ivo Straka received honorary mention for his study of quantum information processing. The ceremony took place at the opening of the Conference of Czech and Slovak Physicists in September 2014 in the Archbishop’s Palace in Olomouc. (mav)
Martina Knápková Awarded for Her Translation of Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story The English and American Literature postgraduate student was awarded by the Czech Literary Translators’ Guild with the Tomáš Hrách Prize for young translators, which is granted along with the Josef Jungmann Prize for the best translation of the year, published in Czech for the first time. Each character
in the novel has a different idiolect and some are far from speaking fluent English, so it was a real challenge to imitate the broken English of a Korean or Russian emigrant without making it sound like a poor translation. “This book has a special place in my translator’s heart,” said Knápková. (map) žurnál 2015
kaleidoscope Svalbard, an Ideal Place for Personal and Life Style Development
Medals by an Olympian The biathalonist Gabriela Soukalová, who won a silver medal at the Sochi Olympic Games, designed medals for the World University Orienteering Championship. One of the organisers of this summer’s event was Palacký University. Soukalová, who graduated from a medal-making school, designed them during the Olympic Games. The obverse depicts a map and arrow, the reverse depicts dominant features of the Olomouc region. “I did not want to use the typical motif of a runner; I like to do unconventional things and I tried to achieve a certain simplicity and purity,” explained Soukalová. More than three hundred competitors from 32 countries gathered for the Award Ceremony in the Zbrojnice quadrangle. After one week of sporting competitions, the most successful nation was Switzerland, with nine medals. The Czech team ended up fifth, with six medals, although none of them were gold. (caf)
Radek Hanuš and Michal Kalman, two members of the Faculty of Physical Culture, decided to visit the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean at the end of September and beginning of October in order to explore the possibilities of professional co-operation in environmental tourism, active movement in the outdoors, and try sail training. Along with thirty other people from the Netherlands, Germany, United States, and Belgium, they joined an exploring expedition on board the Dutch sailboat Antigua along the western coasts of the islands. During the sail, they visited a whole range of natural habitats and research stations and met with colleagues at the University Centre in Svalbard. “We have an opportunity to learn from the active tourism programmes based on the ‘friluftsliv’ concept of nature stays, characterised by active movement in the countryside. Once we arrived, the specific environment and conditions on the boat became the centre of our learning process. Neither the Arctic nor sailboats are typical features of inland life in Central Europe. Our social models are of no use in a wilderness ruled by polar bears,” explained Vice-Dean Hanuš. Svalbard represents, according to Hanuš, an ideal opportunity to realise development and interventional programmes focused on personal development and an active life style.
One Year in Olomouc Seven Ukrainian stipend students from partner universities in Odessa, Zaporizhia, and Kiev have been attending Palacký University since September as a part of their doctoral studies at the Faculties of Law, Medicine and Dentistry, and Arts. “It is a gesture of solidarity towards Ukraine, because they cannot focus on their research in such turbulent times. That is why we decided to allow them to continue their research here,” announced Rector Jaroslav Miller. The doctoral students can rely on the university’s financial and social support. “Even though I have been to Prague twice already, I like Olomouc more. People are friendly and willing to help,” said oncologist Alona Chasovská, sharing her first impressions. She and her colleague Petr Škrobotko also appreciated the top quality of the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine. (caf) 30
Plant Growth Stimulator Granted EU Patent
Confucius Institute Celebrates the Opening of its Prague Branch
photos: Pavel Konečný, Petr Makovička, Vladislav Galgonek, RH archive
In November, the Confucius Institute at Palacký University opened a branch in Prague. Among the guests attending the celebration were Chinese Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Ma Keqing, and the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Cyril Svoboda, whose Diplomatic Academy on Charles Square became the seat of the new branch.
The Centre of the Haná Region for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research is the proud holder of another European patent. The preparation, with the working name PI-55, was developed in collaboration with Freie Universität in Berlin and positively affects plant growth, increasing root system development, and resistance to stress. According to scientists, something similar to this “helper” is needed by farmers. Hormones, specifically cytokinins, are crucial for a number of processes connected to plant growth regulation and development. The contribution of the experts from Olomouc and Berlin lies in the discovery of substances blocking the perception of cytokinins in the plant, thus altering plant development and growth. The technology of cytokinin antagonists and the first preparation based upon this principle was described in 2009. In July 2014, the whole process culminated in being granted a European patent. “The plant has receptors in order to perceive its own chemical signals— hormones. Our agent blocks these receptors—to put it simply, it blinds the plant with regard to perception of its own hormones. Should this agent be used in agrochemical treatment, there would be no need to use large doses,” said Lukáš Spíchal from the research team. Preparations based on the mechanism of cytokinin antagonists are not yet on the market. The patented substance presents zero ecological risk, stimulates the growth of root systems, and increases both yields and resistance of plants against stress. (srd)
Rector Miller Thanks Josef Jařab for the Student Revolution A march called Prozvoníme Olomouc (Ringing Olomouc) reminded us of the 25th anniversary of November 17th—the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. At first, Rector Jaroslav Miller was not sure if or how the young generation of students is concerned with the importance of November 17th. “It makes me proud that Palacký University has students who honour the legacy of the Revolution and who find the values of freedom, democracy, and civil rights of utmost importance,” said Miller. He also noted that the future may hold many totalitarian threats if we do not stand up every day for the values and principles of November 17th. “I realise that I have never personally expressed my thanks to Josef Jařab, the key figure at Palacký University during the November events, for his courage to stand up against the Communist regime at a time when it was far from sure the regime would collapse. Were it not for people like Josef Jařab, my life and the life of people in this country would be completely different. And that is why I thank you, Professor!” said the Rector.
text: Milada Hronová | photos: Milada Hronová, Jan Andreáš
Olomouc Residents Identify Their City with the University People from Olomouc are well aware of the fact that Palacký University plays a significant role in the life of the Haná region’s capital, as shown by a recent survey conducted by the Department of Politics and European Studies at the Faculty of Arts.
Tomáš Lebeda, Dept. of Politics and European Studies
Hidden Treasure For the third year in a row, Olomouc made it to the top of the prestigious Lonely Planet guide’s list of the most beautiful, yet little-known tourist destinations. 32
In this survey focussed on perceptions of Olomouc, respondents mentioned the sights, the historic town centre, and the university as its three most distinctive features. Olomouc was considered a university town by 78 percent of more than 1,000 respondents, who could choose from ten alternatives, such as its parks, archdiocese, or football team. University as the symbol of the city Every year at the end of September, the streets of Olomouc are filled with more than 22,000 Palacký University students, and the huge potential of young people influences both life in the city and its life style. “For the university, it is great that Olomouc residents acknowledge its importance and regard it as an integral part of the city,” said Tomáš Lebeda, the head of the Department of Politics and European Studies. Together with his colleagues Pavel Šaradín and Michal Kuděla, he subjected respondents’ views to factor analysis. According to Lebeda, Olomouc is seen as a historic city with a university and many monuments by most of its residents.
The Church has been forgotten Among the main symbols, there is a significant one missing in the survey—the Catholic Church, even though Olomouc is the seat of one of the two Czech Archbishoprics. The Church was mentioned as an important feature of the city by only 44% of respondents. “Personally, I find it surprising, because, for me, Olomouc history is closely tied to both the university and the Church. Both of them were shaping the history of Olomouc, and it is interesting to see that people nowadays do not regard the Church in that way,” said Lebeda. However, the reason for this could be recent political campaigns against Church restitutions, Lebeda admits. Win-Win situation The university has always been an integral part of Olomouc—it is its biggest employer and by far the largest institution. The survey Attitudes of Olomouc Residents 2014 was made on order of the Town Hall. Experts from the Department of Politics and European Studies worked on it for about six months.
text: Pavel Konečný | photos: MB personal archive
Our Man in America: Motivation is the Key To this day, Miroslav Bešta states his studies at Palacký University were on a highlevel. This 1996 graduate from the Faculty of Computer Science is now working in his tenth year as a developer for Google in New York. As he admits, chance played a role. “At the faculty we had a lot of mathematics and computer courses but students had huge motivation, we were able to learn quite a lot. Knowledge gained at Palacký University can be applied anywhere in the Czech Republic or even to make the big time all over the globe. The key is to be motivated and to be willing to work on yourself,” said Bešta. And he should know. He graduated summa cum laude and moved from Olomouc to Prague, where he wanted to get his Ph.D. at Charles University. “It’s a bigger school
and they have a greater academic capacity, but the basics were very similar to what I had studied in Olomouc,” he noted. American doctorate “I went to Prague to study in the Computer Science department under Prof František Plášil. However, after a year he left to teach in Detroit and he needed students, so I left with him. I never planned to study in the USA, but when the opportunity came, I said I would try it for a year,” he remembered.
He mostly wanted the doctorate so that he could stay and teach at the university in Olomouc. In the end it took him more than five years to finish his Ph.D. at Wayne State University in Detroit. “In the Natural Sciences fields at the doctoral level, one receives a stipend for studies and for work performed. That means that one must teach or grade papers, but it is paid. A small amount of money, but enough to live on. And so my Ph.D. studies were practically free,” he recalls.
RNDr. Miloslav Bešta, Ph.D. (b. 1973) His first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, today he is in his tenth year as a developer at Google in New York. Hiking is one of his hobbies—he enjoys walking in the mountains, especially in national parks in the USA. His highest peak was 4000 m. In the Czech Republic he fell in love with the Jeseník Mts and with Šumava.
He found the methodology at Wayne State University different. “A greater emphasis is placed on independent thinking. For example there are tasks given to students which take so much time that Czech students would say, ‘Forget it’. On the other hand, this way of teaching shows that if a student spends enough time on the problem, he/she is able to solve it, no matter the difficulty,” Bešta described. His first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which led him to the Faculty of Sciences in Olomouc, where he met up with “machines” like the legendary PC 386. “The title of the field, Theoretical Cybernetics, Information Mathematics and Theory of Computer Systems, is an abstract concept which we used to laugh at as students. In practical terms, it is information theory, software engineering, computer theory, and algorithms,” he explained. He taught for a year in Olomouc at the Computer Science department before leaving for Prague. During his doctoral studies in America, he spent time researching a part of Information Science called Formal Methods and Formal Verification of Systems. “It’s on the border between mathematics and information 34
science, and it deals with trying to prove the correctness of complicated algorithms.” After almost six years in Detroit, he wanted to return to his alma mater. “It had already been arranged that I would teach in Olomouc, if I didn’t find anything more interesting in the USA. But that is exactly what happened. I was only looking at top employers in the USA, universities and a few firms… one of which was Google,” he said. That was in 2005. Attractive employment For the first five years he worked on developing tools for developers in the in-house Google Developer Infrastructure on distributed compilation of programs. Then for two years in the area of advertisements in the DoubleClick backend, “on the servers which decide which ad we are going to show you, when you browse pages,” he explained. The past two years he has been back at Infrastructure, working on the distributed file system used in all data centres at Google. “When I started, it was a small firm which gave me the opportunity to contribute to a significant extent in developing systems and software. The infrastructure for
storing data is one of the foundations without which the company could not survive. I am in a senior position, which allows me to influence the directions in which Google is going along the lines of file systems,” he explained in detail. It is said that Google tries to find generalists who are able to change their work orientation according to demand. He has only good memories of Olomouc. “My class was relatively successful. It was two years after the Velvet Revolution when I was accepted. I remember lots of teachers and professors: for example, Dr Večerka and his theories of automation and formal languages, which was for us a real experience. Also Prof Snášel and Prof Sklenář, who was my advisor on my Master’s thesis…” echoed through the receiver from the other side of the Atlantic. He mentioned his fellow pupils Petr Waclawek and Radovan Janeček. “Radim Bělohlávek was in the year ahead of us and now he is the department chair,” he added. He follows events in the Czech Republic, although not on a daily basis. “I read news on the internet, so I have a rough idea of what’s happening.” He returns to his home near Bouzov twice a year.
text: Velena Mazochová | photos: RZ archive | collage: Žurnál
A Fulbright Means Finally Having Time for One’s Own Work Inexhaustible sources of information, inspirational everyday academic life, and above all, an uninterrupted sabbatical—a brief enumeration of the experiences and observations which came to a close last semester when Robert Zbíral, an assistant professor in the Political Science Department of the Faculty of Law, returned from a Fulbright Scholarship in the USA. As a visiting scholar, he spent six months in the Center for International and Comparative Law at Michigan University in Ann Arbor. Zbíral received his prestigious Fulbright Scholarship on the basis of his project aimed at the transferral of authority from the EU to a member state. Primarily, the stay allowed him to learn the American legal system in detail, as well as new methodological approaches. As opposed, for example, to colleagues in the sciences who form a laboratory team, law research, according to Zbíral, is quite solitary. “I simply sat in an office, writing, consulting with local professors, and making use of the inexhaustible information sources there,” is how he described his daily programme. The details and programme of his stay were left up to him: “I often visited seminars in various subjects, taking the role of an informal commentator—an expert on situations outside the USA. I was also interested in subjects where I was not an expert: at lectures on American constitutional law, I was almost in the position of a student,” Zbíral added.
Sabbatical, or wish fulfilled The main benefit for Zbíral was a wish fulfilled: uninterrupted study and research, freed from ordinary teaching duties. “In comparison with twenty teaching hours per week in Olomouc, this was practically a sabbatical—a space where a person can finally read, study, and devote oneself systematically to one’s own research,” Zbíral emphasised. Astonishing sources of information vs planned output One of the positive aspects of his research stay was the ability to make use of the information sources on offer via the libraries and databases. “Michigan University’s library is better than any in Europe… including European Studies. You can order books via the internet, and they deliver them right to your office,” he added. The astonishing amount of information transformed his ideas about specific research publications. “I thought that if a person went abroad, he or she could write several articles and even, gradually, a book. But once I started delving into the information, for example about the
division of authority between federal and individual states, I realised that the situation has been so extensively written on, and in such depth, one cannot write about it after a mere two months. So I took it as an opportunity to do research on certain problems,” Zbíral explained.
The Czech-American government stipend programme administered by the James William Fulbright Commission offers stipends for scientific, educational, and study stays in the USA. It makes possible research, studies, and lectures at top institutions, as well as co-operation with world famous scientists. UP’s Fulbright Commission Ambassador is its Rector, Jaroslav Miller. žurnál 2015
At the 2014 NHL Winter Classic game, held at Michigan University’s stadium, the largest in the USA, which set the NHL attendance record of 105,491.
An elite experience His specific experience was also influenced by the environment of a prestigious university, in the top tenth percentile of American universities. “In the USA, lawyers make up the elite, and the best law faculties are not so open to outsiders,” Zbíral revealed. The feeling of exclusivity permeates into the relationships inside the academic community. “Professors and students both have—often justifiably—high confidence in themselves. There is huge competition between students, so they have this ‘do it yesterday’ attitude, you see it in student organisations and also from magazine
editors. A CV without related activities looks suspicious,” added Zbíral. And the more elite the school, the more extreme it gets. “At Michigan they even came up with this idea that they would not announce grades during the semester. Students who wanted to end up in the top five percent had to be so competitive that it started to influence their relationships at school,” Zbíral remarked. Inspiration As the head of his department, and a member of the Academic Senate, he also considered it a valuable experience to observe the everyday inner university operations there.
Several ideas he would like to see implemented in Olomouc. “I liked how at Michigan they tried their utmost to keep people on campus. You come in the morning and leave at night— because people have developed excellent dining and meeting facilities, with areas for relaxation and free time activities. People are living there, not just running there from their dormitories,” Zbíral observed. The benefits of a Fulbright stay depend upon the individual, and cannot be quantified, according to Zbíral: “The most important thing is the possibility to experience how things work elsewhere, to debate one’s themes, and to have time for yourself.”
With his colleague Jimmy Stevensen in front of the Law School dormitory: snow and –15 ºC. 36
text: Pavel Konečný | photos: Park Here
Park Here A new university initiative called Park Here has brought fresh air into the life of Olomouc’s parks. Bezruč, Smetana, and Čech parks, but also the surroundings of the Svatý Kopeček basilica, and Poděbrady pond—these are places where young people suddenly turned up and danced, watched movies, juggled, played barefoot football, or simply relaxed amidst the greenery. “The project Park Here has been organised by myself and five others,” explained its co-ordinator, Ondřej Martínek. In his diary, he counted twenty-two events, organised on a budget of only forty-five thousand Czech crowns (€1600). It was enough to pay for eight film screenings, two Latin-American dance shows, four piano shows, three art workshops and two sporting events. “I studied abroad so I am used to crowded parks, but that is not exactly the case in Olomouc; however, this project managed to fill them. I like that Park Here attracts
people of all ages and puts together rather different things. I myself tried an ATV, juggling, and climbing beer cases. I also watched several new films in different park locations this summer,” shared Klára Henzlová, a student of English. Jakub Sadecký from the Faculty of Theology welcomes the existence of Park Here, too. “Dancing parties in parks are an interesting idea, I danced waltzes and polkas with my girlfriend,” said Sadecký. According to Martínek, the average attendance was around 150, while the biggest event drew four hundred.
text and photo: Pavel Konečný archival photographs: Petr Zatloukal
Petr Zatloukal had a stormy November twenty-five years ago. A series of coincidences helped him become the key photographer of the Velvet Revolution in Olomouc. “In June 1989, I graduated from the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava, in the field of Documentary Photography. So November caught me ready for some documentation. Working with my camera was like breathing to me, and I also knew a group of Philosophical Faculty students who called themselves ‘Komuna’—The Commune. My original subject field was cybernetics, so I found their philosophical view of life very refreshing,” recalled Zatloukal. It was these students who later became leaders of the Velvet Revolution. We leaf through photos that were included in various anniversary publications. Unfortunately, nothing was published for the 25th jubilee. “I don’t have a favourite. Maybe the one with the balloons,” he muses. The sculpture group of Bolshevik leaders used to stand next to the Theresian Gate, where today there is a car park. “People had put executioner’s hoods on their heads before they installed those balloons. I was taking the pictures at night; the place had a very strange atmosphere. It is actually the only colour photo.
And in the morning, the balloons were gone,” described Zatloukal. Morning came, and the sculpture group fell victim to the ‘Fly to Warmer Climes’ happening—a crane came and took the Stalinists away, to applause. “And this photo was actually on my New Year’s greeting card: ‘Make a Wish upon a Star’…” he points to the photo of climbers taking down the five-pointed communist star from a high wall. At that time, the symbol was on every corner and even every locomotive. “These happenings were kind of an Olomouc specialty—for example the coronation of the stone lions in front of the courthouse, or the wall made of cardboard boxes around the seat of the District Party Committee. It was amazing! ‘Honk if you like it!’ was written on a banner by the roadside, and everybody was honking…” The happening called ‘Victorious February’ was attended by spitting images of not only Fidel Castro, but also other socialist dictators like Klement Gottwald and Mao Zedong. “From the Town Hall balcony, where the King of Majáles coronation takes place today, they delivered fiery oratory, and then jumped off the balcony. But when they jumped, people were stunned, because
basically no one was able to see the linen stretched underneath. We just heard a chorus of Whoooa…,” described Zatloukal, going through his photos. He pauses before the next chapter. “I think I prefer these from the occupational strike,” he realises. “They are all authentic; I was going there at night, usually around 3 am, and people were collapsing due to exhaustion and weariness. They just fell down in place and slept.” He regularly took pictures of friends. “Shortly after the beginning, I got the idea to avoid crowds in the streets and the two-finger Victory symbols. No big emotions: but instead focus on what was going on behind the scenes—that fascinated me. I get goose bumps even now when I remember those days,” Zatloukal attested. “Was it all worth it? I am no expert in politics or sociology. To me, it was not really a revolution. It was a natural development, and I think that it happened pretty spontaneously. I am sure that everything is as it should be— including all the consequences of November 1989. We got what we deserved. I am not disappointed with November 1989, nor its further development.”
photo: Pavel Konečný
Марія Попко; in Czech, Marie Popková (b. 1990) Marie Popko was born in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, where she got her Master’s degree in Slavic Languages and Literature (Ukrainian and Czech Studies) from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev. She came to the Czech Republic for the first time in 2008 and since then has been regularly attending language school programmes in Brno and České Budějovice. In 2013, she began her Ph.D. studies in the field of Comparative Slavic Philology at Palacký University.
Чехія – нова сторінка у книзі мого життя
The Czech Republic: A New Page in the Book of My Life
Кажуть, зміна – це життя. І це правда. Без змін наші дні були б схожі на веселку без кольорів. Мій приїзд у Чехію змінив усе: погляди на життя, ставлення до людей, характер. Я народилася і прожила 23 роки у прекрасному місті, столиці України – Києві. Мегаполіс сформував і стиль мого життя – я постійно поспішала, у мене практично не було часу просто спокійно прогулятися по парку чи посидіти на березі Дніпра. Коли я приїхала в Оломоуц – моє життя змінилося. З першого погляду я полюбила це маленьке, затишне, красиве містечко, де, здається, час іде повільніше… Посидіти на лавці у Сметанових Садах, прогулятися площами міста, випити кави в улюбленій кав’ярні Тріесте – ось що я люблю. З чехами ми знайшли спільну мову. Так, у мене тут з’явилися прекрасні друзі, з якими я проводжу вільний час, їжджу на екскурсії і навчаюся. Вони допомагають мені у вивченні чеської мови – виправляють помилки та іноді сміються з мого українського акценту. Але чим більше я спілкуюся з чехами, тим частіше чую питання: «чому ти вчиш цю мову? Чому саме чеська?». Я вам відповім: тому що це чудова слов’янська мова, якою говорили Коменський і Масарик, писали Божена Нємцова і Ярослав Гашек, якою сьогодні говорять мільйони чехів у серці Європи. Я з впевненістю можу сказати, що нова сторінка у книзі мого життя, яку я почала писати тут, в Чехії, наповнена новими враженнями, цікавими подіями, приємними людьми, сюрпризами і неповторними емоціями!
“‘Change is life,’ as the saying goes. And it is true. Without change the days of our lives would feel like a colourless rainbow. My arrival to the Czech Republic changed everything: my life-view, attitude towards people, my personality. I was born and lived for 23 years in a beautiful city, the capital of Ukraine—Kiev. My life style was determined by life in a metropolis. I was rushing all the time, had practically no time to stroll through a park or sit down by the Dnieper River. When I came to Olomouc, my life changed. I fell in love at first sight with this little, cosy and marvellous town, where time does not fly by so fast; at least that’s how I feel. I like to sit down on the benches in Smetana Park, stroll through Olomouc’s squares or enjoy coffee in my favourite Café Trieste in the Lower Square. Czechs and I speak the same language, I have good friends here, spend my leisure time with them, go on trips, and study together. Besides, they help me learn Czech, correct my mistakes and they laugh at my accent from time to time. But the more I speak with Czechs, the more I hear one question: ‘Why do you study this language? Why Czech?’ I will tell you why: Czech is a beautiful Slavic language, the language of Comenius and Masaryk; writers like Božena Němcová and Jaroslav Hašek;the language of millions of people in the heart of Europe. I am positive to say that this new Czech page in the book of my life is full of new experiences, interesting events, nice people, surprises, and wonderful emotions!” žurnál 2015
The Final Word Pavel Konečný Editor-in-Chief, UP Media
In the beginning was the Word, the drunk told me, emphasising with his pointer finger, as he leaned over the reception desk at the Palác Hotel in Olomouc. It was the end of October 1989, and I was working the night shift, a student at the Philosophical Faculty. And what word? He left it up to me. “If I knew that, sir, I would be God.” He surprised me twice in one sentence. People at that time used the word ‘comrade’— talking about ‘God’ was not allowed.... I never saw him again, but from time to time I would think about him. Just like what happened a month later. November 1989 is a time everybody remembers a little differently, and some would even like to forget. In recent years, November has been a time almost as lacklustre as the Great
October Revolution memorials. The green leaves first turn orange, then red.... And then they fall. Nothing remains. I look at the black and white photos Petr Zatloukal took here in November 1989, but I see them in colour. I still know the relief of being freed from one’s shackles. And how wondrous it is to be a part of history. In this country that feeling comes once every forty years, or once every third generation. And then a good half of them reconsider, or reformulate how it was. People who have the last word tend to be unbearable. And I am afraid of that today. But I am even more afraid of those who have the last laugh. And how their numbers are increasing.
Cover page no.1 & 3 – photo: Kristýna Erbenová Back cover – Petra Bolková: Natali the Cat (collage detail). The collage was bought by Skarlet Křížová at a charity auction for the dog shelter in Neředín organised by StuArt.
(english) Magazine of Palacký University Olomouc