How have you managed to combine your family and professional life since 1990, when you had a small daughter and you and your husband (Jan Šmarda) took the opportunity to go to the USA? Your husband had a job at the State University of New York; did you also get to do scientific work in the laboratory?
I went to the U.S. with the idea that I would spend my parental leave there and stay at home, just as if I were at home here. But as it happens, I ended up working. At my interview for Paula Enrietto’s laboratory, I was completely open with my future boss and told her I had a two-year-old daughter. She also had a child of about five, so she understood me completely. She also had positive experience with “people from the East”, as she called it, which proved to be very useful. She gave me confidence, encouragement and understanding, both personally and professionally. I told her honestly what I could and could not do. She said if I had the knowledge, I would learn the techniques in the laboratory and in three months I would be back teaching new people. And that’s exactly what happened. The focus of my work led me to study the eukaryotic cell and its cancerous transformation, a topic that I continue to work on.
How did you manage taking care of your child and working in the laboratory?
It was a tremendous challenge. My husband worked from day-to-day, which was impossible for me. I had a precisely set time for work, between bringing and picking up my daughter from kindergarten. My daughter was two years and three months old when she started kindergarten, which was perfect. Though I gave more or less everything I earned to the kindergarten, my daughter was very happy there, and that was the main thing for me.
prof. RNDr. Jana Šmardová, CSc.
profesorka – Section of Genetics and Molecular Biology
Department of Experimental Biology
Photo: Irina Matusevich
Translation: Kevin Frances Roche, Jana Šmardová