Success Stories

The Masaryk University has a genius loci for me. It is a place that has given me optimism and a sense of life for 55 years, says Libuše Trnková.

prof. RNDr. Libuše Trnková, CSc.

Department of Chemistry

Libuše Trnková studied Chemistry and Physics as a teacher. After graduation in 1970 she was accepted for a postgraduate course at the Research Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry. She is currently a professor at the Department of Chemistry. Her research work is oriented in the field of biophysical chemistry and bioelectrochemistry. To study the relationship between the structure and electrochemical properties of biologically important substances such as nucleic acids, proteins and their components, she uses modern electroanalytical and spectral methods. She collaborates with the Institute of Biophysics of the CAS in Brno and the J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Aca in Prague. She is looking for new and cheap materials for biosensors with respect to their surface morphology and their chemical composition. Her name is associated with the introduction and development of new electrochemical methods, elimination polarography and voltammetry, which were given the theoretical basis by Prof. Dračka. Electrochemical research is also reflected in her teaching (Electroanalytical Methods, Electrode Kinetics, Electrical Properties of Atoms and Molecules, Advanced Exercise in Chemistry of Conservation of Objects Made of Inorganic Materials III, Special Methods - Practical, Methods of Chemical Research). In the Department of Chemistry, she has been instrumental in the accreditation of Biophysical Chemistry.

Photo: Irina Matusevich

Having started your studies in 1965, your life has been connected with Masaryk University’s (MU) Faculty of Science for 55 years. What is your most interesting memory from the start of your studies?

Yes, from 1965 to 1970 I was a student at the MU Faculty of Science (PřF MU, previously known as UJEP). I graduated from the Jihlava Secondary General Education School in the science class. I was looking forward to studying natural sciences and originally wanted to study professional biology; however, the entrance exams were very demanding. There was a written test in physics and chemistry, and these two roughly one hour-long tests were followed by an entrance interview in biology. Even on the day of the admission procedure, I had the feeling that I did well in the written physics and chemistry tests, but that my performance in front of the biology committee, which focused its questions on nucleic acids and genetics, had not been excellent. It was probably also because genetics was not given enough attention in secondary schools at that time. My hunch came true and 14 days after the entrance exams, I received a notification from the Dean’s office stating “based on the results of the admission procedure, we hereby accept you for Chemistry-Physics”. It was a teacher combination and I was faced with the decision of whether I should become a teacher. My decision was helped by my parents who, right after finishing primary school, assumed that both daughters would become teachers (my sister graduated from the MU Faculty of Education and is now a teacher of Czech and music).

After a year of successfully studying Chemistry-Physics, I went to the zoology professor (I suspect it was Prof. S. Hrabě) with a question about whether it would be possible to specialise in biology. Even now I can still remember the image of the professor sitting in his favourite chair, looking at me and saying “there are biologists everywhere (I’m avoiding a pithy expression), stick to your Chemistry-Physics and take biology as a hobby”. At the same time, he showed me examples of how chemistry and physics are beneficial to the biological sciences. So, I remained in my student study group; there were seven of us, four girls and three boys. They were a great bunch; we went to the mountains together and often prepared for exams together. It was a group that gave me courage, positively charged me, taught me how to ski, to play tarot and encouraged me to reward myself with good food after a successful test.

Do you remember any happy memories from your student years?

Ones student years are associated not only with study obligations but also with life in the dormitories. I lived in Mánesky (Mánes dormitory in Královo Pole quater) and I shared a room with three other students who were studying for the Chemistry-Mathematics combination. We understood each other wonderfully and, thanks to our common subjects, were able to complement and help each other. My sweetest, and funniest, memory remains, even after all these years. I had a difficult physics exam in front of me, and not all students were going to pass it. I was very worried about passing the state exam; I was not sleeping well and was not able to concentrate enough on my studies. Some of the dormitory beds were bunk beds and, about a week before the state exam, I noticed an inscription on the underneath of the top bunk that said “better a healthy fool than a sick physicist”. The girls worked on my mental state and, when I lay down again in the evening, the sign was looking at me and I was looking at it. While under its influence I became calmer; after that, the sleep deficit disappeared and I passed the physics state exam with flying colours.

We congratulated Libuše Trnková on the anniversary of 50 years of professional life at the faculty. Photo: Irina Matusevich.

So, you graduated from Chemistry and Physics with a focus on teaching in 1970. You then started building your career at the Research Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry (RIMCh), and then, after less than two years, you left to join our faculty, where you have stayed ever since. What was the reason for this choice?

For me, Masaryk University really has a genius loci; it is a place I have returned to and continue to return to, a place that always fills me with optimism and the meaning of life. And that is why, towards the end of 1971, I did not hesitate when a position became available at the Department of Theoretical and Physical Chemistry (DTPCh) to replace an assistant who had emigrated to Germany. When the position was offered to me, I ended my career at RIMCh and began my new career at the Faculty of Science as an assistant, teaching not only basic laboratory exercises and calculation seminars for Chemistry-Physics but also advanced laboratory exercises focused on electrochemistry.

Were you glad that you got to teach?

Yes, definitely. I made use of my teaching education and, over the next two years, I prepared teaching materials for students of ‘professional’ and ‘teachers’ chemistry (e.g. instructions for laboratory tasks, tests for seminars). In 1974, I had a five-month internship at Lomonosov University in Moscow, where I worked under the guidance of the world-famous electrochemists B. B. Damaskin and A. N. Frumkin. After returning, I again dedicated myself to teaching, which usually involved 23−25 hours work a week. There was no time left for research. Classes also took place on Saturdays; usually practical classes mostly held for distance learning students. Some of the students were older than me, but they were friendly and grateful for everything, something that some students today could learn. To this day, I don’t know which one of them dropped a beautiful rose in my letter box every week, probably as a selfless thank you on behalf of the whole group.

Many teaching graduates say they can’t imagine doing anything else. How did your career path develop?

When I was five years old, my mother and father were already thinking about my future profession and so they arranged for me to have private violin lessons. Back then, it was an unwritten rule that every primary school teacher had to be able to play a musical instrument. After the war, there was not enough money to buy a piano, but small violins (so-called halves) could be obtained quite cheaply; so, I diligently began practicing the violin according to Otakar Ševčík’s basic notebooks and began learning Henrik Ernst Kayser’s etudes. My sister’s career as a music teacher won out. I was more keen on the natural sciences. I saw a greater mystery in that and, at the same time, a greater possibility of applying myself. I don’t resent the music training, it has accompanied me my whole life. I became ‘bewitched’ by teaching due to circumstances, and I am very happy about it; I really cannot imagine my present profession without the teaching process. There was a time when Professor Emil Paleček tried to lure me toward a post as a researcher at the Institute of Biophysics, but I decided I would miss the students too much. The combination of teaching and research, and the transfer of experience to students in the form of lectures, Bachelor’s studies and diploma and dissertation theses is an activity that I really enjoy and that fulfils me. Teaching means knowing not only what to teach but how to teach, and how to stimulate students, how to offer ideas and to encourage and support students in coming up with new ideas and implementing them. All this is a colourful activity that can completely absorb a person, in the good sense of the word.

Libuše Trnková has been working on electrochemistry of nucleic acid bases, especially guanine, previously on mercury electrodes, now on carbon electrodes. She chooses new approaches to solving the mechanism of electrochemical processes (elimination voltammetry). Photo: Irina Matusevich

The protocols, reports or Diploma theses of many people connected with our faculty have passed through your hands, including Professors Jiří Friml, Ivan Holoubek, Vladimír Sklenář, Petr Skládal, Vladimír Mikeš, Jiří Sopoušek and Pavel Brož. How does it feel to watch their careers develop and progress?

On the one hand it reminds me of my advanced age, but on the other I have a good feeling that these graduates, who completed their practical exercises and seminars in Chemistry-Phsics or completed their Diploma thesis at DTPCH, are all important scientists, great teachers and excellent friends, whose careers were all based on the fundamentals of physical chemistry. It gives me great pleasure to look at their notebooks or records, all of which I still have. Their reports and observations had a spark, they had creative ideas aimed at improving the feasibility of their tasks, alternative solutions to the example provided and innovative ideas of what to improve and how to do it. It’s a pity that Vladimír Mikeš, who helped us organise the first Working Meetings of Molecular Biologists and Biochemists, is no longer with us. He was not only very talented and hardworking but was also humble and showed great empathy. Some time ago I attended a lecture by Jiří Friml, who is now celebrating success at home and abroad in the field of plant physiology, specifically plant growth and associated hormonal processes (auxins). After the lecture, we exchanged a few words and I was very pleased that one of his daughters bears the name Libuše, which is not very common anymore. Pavel Brož and Jiří Sopoušek are now colleagues at the Institute of Chemistry, Petr Skládal at the Institute of Biochemistry and CEITEC, Ivan Holoubek at RECETOX and Vladimír Sklenář at the National Centre for Biomolecular Research (NCBR). All of them are very successful scientists and have received awards for their work, not only here but also abroad.

You study physical chemistry; can you introduce this field to our readers?

There is a close connection between chemistry and physics. As a field, physical chemistry requires a deeper knowledge of physics, mathematics and, in the theoretical part of the field, computer technology, with the help of which the properties of substances are now investigated in relation to their functions at a wide range of levels, including the molecular level. I am convinced that physical chemistry can provide more sophisticated answers to such questions as “why does this happen” and “why this phenomenon occurs or not”. I commented on physical chemistry in the introductory editorial note of the book “History written by scientists: the development of scientific fields at the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University”. There, I tried to explain how physical chemistry relates to other scientific fields: “physical chemistry has a relatively high valuation in the natural sciences. Traditionally, there has been an unwritten rule that it is the basis of all other fields of chemistry because it appears in all chemical disciplines. Some professors even claim that physical chemistry is a much better and more mature form of general chemistry”. While there is no need to elevate physical chemistry above other chemical disciplines, I have to agree that physical chemistry more or less intervenes in all fields of chemistry and that it is able to explain the reasons for what happens in complex chemical and biological systems.

What areas of electrochemical research are you most interested in?

Electrochemistry, as a companion to physical chemistry, is often characterised as a discipline that investigates processes occurring at the interface of electrodes and electrolytes. It is a demanding discipline in that the interface is represented by very different phases (most often ionic and electronic components); moreover, the interface is usually polarised, which sounds like polarography. Jaroslav Heyrovský was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1959 for the discovery of polarography, which became the basis of electroanalytical methods and contributed to their development. The ideas and experimental procedures introduced by Prof. Heyrovsky are still used today in the fields of nanotechnology and biochemistry, as well as many natural and medical science fields. I didn’t start working fully on electrochemical research until after 1989, partly due to personal matters (family and children) but also my heavy workload as regards teaching duties. There was simply no time left for research. In the end, I still managed to obtain interesting results in the electrochemistry of nucleic acid bases, particularly guanine, and developed a new approach in electroanalysis. In 2000, I was able to submit my habilitation thesis on “the application of modern electrochemical methods in biophysical chemistry”.

Your name is associated with the introduction of new electrochemical methods used in research on redox systems of biologically significant substances. What does this involve?

The beginnings of electrochemical research and its application in electroanalysis is mostly associated with the electrochemistry of mercury drops, and is based on polarography. With the gradual development of new electroanalytical methods, the mercury drop electrode has gradually been replaced with new electrode materials; nevertheless, it remains an important tool enabling the study of properties and transformations in biologically significant substances, including drugs and substances important for protecting human health and the environment. My scientific research in bioelectrochemistry was stimulated by Professor Emil Paleček, who was the first to discover and define the electroactivity of nucleic acids, mainly thanks to their components. One of the purine nucleobases (guanine) became my “buddy” for several years. I studied its electrochemical behaviour on a mercury drop electrode and discovered, and experimentally confirmed, the oxidation of its reduction product with a return to the original guanine. The significance of the oxidation signal was that it indicated the interaction of guanine (and subsequently oligo- and polynucleotides) with a drug or toxic substance, which could then be monitored with great sensitivity through the oxidation peak of pre-reduced guanine.

Another professor who directed me to electrochemical research was Professor Oldřich Dračka, with whom I tackled the discovery of reduction processes “enveloped” in hydrogen excretion processes, the solution being based on elimination methods (elimination polarography and elimination voltammetry). I began to devote myself to elimination voltammetry (volt-amperometry) in order to verify the theory, and to apply and develop it for solid electrodes. To simplify the process, we can imagine a measured current as the sum of partial currents, all of which are dependent on the speed at which the electrode is polarised; that is, how quickly the potential is applied to the working electrode. Based on the different dependences of each partial current to this speed, a method was developed that was able to demonstrate signal separation, which helped solve the mechanism of electrode processes, distinguish DNA and RNA fragments and reveal the adsorption of an electroactive particle on an electrode surface. As my students continue in the development and application of elimination voltammetry, we discover new effects that we then try to explain. As for solid electrodes, which can also serve as highly sensitive sensors, biosensors or nanosensors, we use carbon electrodes (unmodified or modified with nanoparticles) and, mainly, pencil leads solids, which are stable, easily available and have excellent electrochemical parameters for analysis.

You lead the Laboratory of Biophysical Chemistry and Electrochemistry (LABIFEL). What do you consider the laboratory’s greatest success?

This is a follow-up to the previous point of the conversation. I consider the combination of teaching (biophysical chemistry) and research (electrochemistry) for students of all categories – Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral students – to be one of the great successes of LABIFEL. Based on our understanding of the mechanisms underpinning electrode processes, cheap and sensitive biosensors can now be constructed with potential applications in biomedicine, pharmacy and ecology. Furthermore, unusual electrode materials can also be used, such as pencil graphic leads or impregnated graphite, modified carbon paste or CD carrier metal layers (CD-trodes). We managed to file a patent based on the excellent properties of the pentel graphite cords, and have now started using them in advanced electrochemical methods in cooperation with J. Heyrovský of the Institute of Physical Chemistry in Prague. The LABIFEL website provides up-to-date information on what is happening in our laboratories, including news about grants, projects, publications and the achievements of our students and colleagues, as well as reports on Workshops (last year was our 22nd such workshop) and Electrochemical Schools (the 12th such event).

As far as solid electrodes are concerned, which can serve as very good and sensitive sensors, biosensors or nanosensors, Prof. Trnková and her students use carbon electrodes and especially pencil leads, which are readily available and stable and have excellent electrochemical parameters in terms of analysis. Photo: Irina Matusevich

You helped the new Biophysical Chemistry course at the MU Faculty of Science gain accreditation. Was that a challenge?

This specialisation already exists at many prestigious universities at home and abroad, where it is well evaluated and continues to develop due to its involvement in medicinal chemistry. It could be said that it is physical chemistry with an orientation to biological and medical sciences, and that it is aimed at educating experts in an interdisciplinary field standing on the borders of physical chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics, with biochemistry connecting biology and chemistry, biophysics connecting biology and physics and biophysical chemistry connecting everything together. This was the approach we, together with Dr. Iveta Třísková, took when trying to get the course accredited. Initially, we gained accreditation for the Bachelor’s degree; however, as the students were interested in continuing as biophysical chemists in the follow-up Master’s degree, we also sought accreditation for the Master’s degree course. Experience has since taught us to always work on field accreditation in Bachelor’s and Master’s studies at the same time, and not separately, otherwise there is a lot of work and lost time associated with administration. When done together, there is also a more meaningful distribution of compulsory, compulsory optional and optional subjects in both degrees. Our initial intentions have now been fulfilled, with biophysical chemistry graduates acquiring the ability to independently solve problems related to the structural and functional characterisation of biological systems using physico-chemical methods.

The development of biophysical chemistry in the teaching of chemistry involves Assoc. Jozef Hritz, to whom I am passing the baton to not only guarantee this field, but also to further enrich it with his experience, knowledge and ideas. His research team is focused on the biophysical chemistry of protein complexes, many of which have strong relevance to the development of neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer's disease. In addition, among other international projects, Assoc. Jozef Hritz is the coordinator of the prestigious European consortium project Excellence Hubs: ADDIT-CE, which aims to translate academic research into innovative Alzheimer's disease diagnostics and its translation into clinical practice in Central Europe. In my opinion, this project offers great prospective opportunities for the students involved, not only for academics but also for associated biotech companies and clinical sites.

Over the course of your career, you gained experience abroad on numerous academic internships. In doing so, you have established excellent cooperative partnerships with universities from around the world, not only centred on research but also in facilitating foreign students studying at MU. Why is research and student travel so important you?

At the beginning of this interview, I mentioned my “electrochemical” stay at the Faculty of Chemistry of Lomonosov University, Moscow. My second sabbatical was a three-month stay at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology of the Technical University in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where I studied the conductivity of different synthetic polymer solutions. Though Ljubljana is not so far from Brno, I was not allowed to make a single trip home during my internship. It was 1980, and the communist system strictly enforced a there-and-back policy using the one-time departure clause. None of the academics at the University of Ljubljana could understand why I was forbidden from visiting my family, even though I was the mother of a three-year-old son at the time. The closest cooperative student exchange partnerships have been with educational institutions in Turkey and Spain, and more recently in China, Hungary and Slovakia.

In the past, the whole process of traveling was very different to today, in that trips to Western countries had to be approved by the school’s communist committee and the street committee. All it took was one dubious voice or piece of information, even false information, and your journey was denied. Student and teacher mobility is important, not only because of the possibilities of professional growth and personal development but also for establishing contacts and getting to know foreign cultures, as well as offering huge opportunities to improve communications in a foreign language. Such trips can offer a whole range of new experiences for students and some may find this a bit daunting. If students have the opportunity to travel and gain experience somewhere new, they should be encouraged; it is a unique opportunity for them to truly get to know themselves and test how far they can go.

In 1998, together with Pavel Janderka and René Kizka, you founded the Working Meeting of Physical Chemists and Electrochemists. In 2007, the Summer Electrochemical School also became part of this conference, which is aimed at students and young scientists interested in getting to know the most modern methods of electrochemical research through laboratory practice. How have these meetings developed?

The Dean of our faculty and the Rector of Masaryk University have now taken over patronage of these conferences and the conference language of the Workshop of Biophysical Chemists and Electrochemists has been changed from Czech to English. The Electrochemical School now plays a frequent role in the conference, which is specifically aimed at young scientists interested in modern electrochemical methods. Each year, Metrohm provides prizes for the best research presented in the Youth Section. With the help of the Director of the Institute of Biophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, I also secured another award in honour of Prof. Emil Paleček, commemorating his scientific and research work in bioelectrochemistry. All the Workshop meetings (16 years for biologists and biochemists and 22 years for physical chemists and electrochemists) and meetings of the Electrochemical School (12 years) required a tremendous amount of time and commitment to organise, and I would like to thank everyone who helped prepare and implement all the events, especially Dr. Iveta Třísková. According to the latest agreement, organisation of the next Workshop will take place in cooperation with the Institute of Physical Chemistry J. Heyrovský in Prague, because we now believe that the Workshop of Biophysical Chemists and Electrochemists should provide a greater overlap between science and research at the university and research institute levels.

Libuše Trnková has devoted a lot of energy to the accreditation of a new field of study, Biophysical Chemistry. Photo: Irina Matusevich

Currently, there is a lot of talk about the need to successfully combine a career with family life. How did you manage?

As a woman, combining a career and family life proved difficult; however, if you have a great partner next to you, and you can join forces with mutual understanding and tolerance, everything can be managed and obstacles overcome. My husband was a great partner. He himself was a university teacher (in the Department of Geography at the Faculty of Natural Sciences until 1990, and then at the Institute of Landscape Ecology at Faculty of Agriculture MENDELU until 2011) so he was able to understand the key points of the scientific and teaching processes that had to be addressed. He was selfless, responsible and empathetic, with a sense of family. I admired his polyglot knowledge, not only in the field of biogeography and landscape ecology, which he taught, but also in history, which was his hobby. He also led our two sons to have a positive attitude towards life, nature and a responsible work attitude. One went on to study medicine and joined the Urology clinic at the hospital at Jihlava, while the other studied landscape ecology and now works for ‘Public Greenery’ in the city of Brno.

What do you think needs to be changed in this area, especially in relation to women in science?

Even today, female scientists do not have it easy, with the division of time between family responsibilities and scientific work requiring plenty of determination. Moreover, insufficient funds often limit the possibilities of combining scientific work and a family life, meaning that young scientists often postpone parenthood. We all know that the academic environment requires high levels of work commitment; for a woman in science, that often means working evenings, weekends and sometimes nights too. We need to create an environment that includes systemic measures for young female scientists that allow them to start a family without fear and have the option of part-time work. These issues need to be addressed with confidence and flexibility and not burdened with unnecessary agendas and administration. Young mothers should have the support of their manager and co-workers who should involve them in projects, they should trust them. Unlike when we were mothers, today’s women have much greater opportunities in science; for example, they can take advantage of projects “tailored” to female scientists, with three-year start-up grants from the ‘Experientia Foundation’ or ‘Career Restart’. I think that there is still room for improvement in this direction, but inspiration for systemic solutions can be found in universities which have successfully handled the “problem” of women in science.

You always say that work is your hobby, but you have another hobby in choral singing. You are a long-time member of the Brno Philharmonic Choir-Beseda Brno and every year you take part in ten concerts, mainly comprising classical and church music. What do you gain from singing, and everything related to it?

I often tell students that, for a happy and successful life, it is good to have three basic points that maintain stability and give balance to our actions, feelings and desires. This “tripod” comprises a job, with work that we enjoy; second, a home life, with family as the background but also close friends that you can lean on and trust; and third, a hobby that fulfils you and gives you a feeling of happiness and joy. Music has been my hobby for a long time. I used to sing and play the violin in choirs and orchestras in primary and secondary school, and at university I sang in the Brno Academic Choir, which was led during my studies by the excellent choirmaster Lubomír Mátl. Now my heart is with the Brno Philharmonic Choir-Beseda Brno, to which I have remained loyal for more than 36 years. It is one of the oldest choirs in the country, with its beginnings dating back to 1860. It is associated with some famous names, including Father Pavel Křížkovský of the Augustinian monastery in Staré Brno, who founded Beseda Brno, and Leoš Janáček, who led Beseda for 12 years and was instrumental in transforming the original patriotic association into a high-quality artistic body. The choir has successfully interpreted several demanding orchestral and cantata compositions of world importance. I would also like to mention here that Leoš Janáček learned a lot from Father Křížkovský. Moreover, the name of Father Křížkovský is closely connected with that of Gregor Johann Mendel, who was a very good friend, and Abbot Cyril Napp, an extremely kind and generous personality who guaranteed that the monastery continued to be highly conducive to both the natural sciences and music. I digress a bit into history, but I wanted to show that both activities can complement each other perfectly.

When the whole world celebrated the bicentenary of one of the world’s great geniuses, G. J. Mendel, our choir took the opportunity to perform a concert dedicated to Moravian composers of Mendel’s time (compositions by P. Křížkovského, F. Musil and L. Janáček) in the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Staré Brno on November 3 2022, as part of the Moravian Musical Track project. Here it would be appropriate to thank our choirmaster, Petar Kolař, and the Director of the Mendel Museum, Dr. Blanka Křížová, for facilitating the event.

I could talk about the Brno Philharmonic Choir-Beseda Brno for a long time. As Vice-President of the choir, I try to establish contacts with foreign countries to help ensure concert performances at home and abroad, and especially in the ‘twin cities’ of Brno, such as Leipzig, Stuttgart, Poznan, Utrecht, Leeds, Rennes and Bratislava. We are an excellent group that helps with charity events (e.g. Apla − support for people with autism, earthquake − Tahiti, support for doctors during the COVID pandemic, war − Ukraine), a group that gives people joy and pleasure from beautiful music. I think the following quote expresses it best, “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, I will refresh you” (freely translated part of a quote from the Gospel of Matthew on the facade of Brno Cathedral). Choir singing fulfils me personally, relieves sadness, gives peace and often relieves nervousness. It is a medicine, not only for me and the entire choir but also for the music-loving audience. It is a medicine that does not require huge finances, instead it requires determination, responsibility, the desire to create something and to share a thing well-done with friends.

Prof. Trnková's name is associated with the introduction of new electrochemical methods used in research on redox systems of biologically important substances. Photo: Irina Matusevich.

Tell us in conclusion, what does being an educator give you? What is the mission of teaching?

Because I liked the idea of my colleague, Dominik Heger, which he developed at the end of the retrospective review of physical chemistry in the book “History written by scientists”, I would like to reproduce the final words of the interview here:

We are interested in a small part of the research. Above all, however, we try to live up to the ideal of science and, as such, (i) discover the truth and share it with all of humanity in the form of articles, (ii) experience with our students and colleagues the joy and hard work in achieving knowledge, and (iii) generalise the known regularities and offer our understanding to students in lectures and exercises. We are convinced that knowledge, cognition and appropriate commitment in scientific endeavours can also bring a joyful and fulfilling life to a person, along with team work with good and honest colleagues and a sense of belonging and complementing each other when solving a scientific problem together. We are all aware of one important fact − that science and research cannot be done without mutual trust and cooperation. We are very happy, we are happy when we can learn new things and think about them, look for connections and tread new paths of science. We should also “infect” our students with this happiness. Finally, we all wish that the university opens people’s minds, brings the hope of knowledge and builds a free, happy and functioning society.

Thank you for the interview.
Zuzana Jayasundera

Translated by Kevin Frances Roche

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