The City of Brno has presented awards to 13 young scientists from the Faculty of Science

This week, Doctoral students received prestigious scholarships for further scientific work. The award ‘Brno PhD Talent’ was presented to 25 young researchers, 18 of whom work at Masaryk University, 13 of them at the Faculty of Science. Congratulations to all the recipients!

23 Mar 2023 Filip Breindl Barbora Kameníková Kevin Francis Roche

Photo: Mariya Ostrenko

On March 21, 2023, Anna Putnová, representative of the city of Brno for innovation and cooperation with research organisations, presented the awards to the scholarship recipients. “Talent binds - it obliges the bearer to develop it and fulfil its potential. I wish all the recipient’s perseverance and strength, so that they are able to use their talent fully in their chosen profession”, Mrs. Putnová said.

The celebratory evening at the New Town Hall in Brno was also attended by the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, Helena Langšádlová. “You are creating something extraordinary that will make a fundamental contribution to the success of the Czech Republic”, Minister Langšádlová said.

The cooperation between the city and universities was appreciated by the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Helena Langšádlová. Photo: Mariya Ostrenko

It was possible to concentrate only on science”, said naturalist Martin Toul, one of the PhD Talents of 2018, when describing his experience. He is now looking for a Doctoral position at a European university. His research has been focused on the potential uses of the staphylokinase protein in cardiovascular medicine, and he has followers among the current PhD Talents from our Faculty of Science, Linda Kašiarová and Alan Strunga. “I would like them to be able to look at science not just as a job, to not be afraid to experiment and be able to work in a motivating environment”, Martin told his successors.

Martin Toul shared his experience with the scholarship in an interview with the evening's moderator Martina Pouchlá. Photo: Mariya Ostrenko

It is always necessary to think about the fact that one needs to combine the duties of a university employee, a researcher and a student. It is important to balance one’s time well. The truth is, there is not much time left for any part-time jobs; and even if there is, there won’t be much energy left over to devote to research”, says Barbora Hrnčířová, who received a scholarship for her research project dedicated to utilisation of lignocellulose, the indigestible part of biomass. “The scholarship I received freed me from having to think about other ways of raising funds. It’s also for the little things; for example, if I have a week of demanding experiments and I don’t have time to cook at home, the scholarship allowed me to go to a restaurant for lunch, though of course not all the time”, the PhD student explained.

Science is a really fascinating job”, said another award-winning Doctoral student, Anna Sobotková.

Barbora Hrnčířová ( in the middle in the black dress) explores the possibilities of decomposing the indigestible component of biomass. Photo: Mariya Ostrenko

I believe that the scholarship from the city of Brno will make a significant contribution to the success of the selected students in their future scientific careers. Every year, I am amazed at how many talented young scientists we have in Brno, and I am extremely proud that they have chosen local universities and research centres for their research”, said Markéta Vaňková, Mayor of the statutory city of Brno.

Brno PhD Talent is a programme that awards 25 Doctoral students from local universities a scholarship totalling CZK 330,000 for three years, and also helps them develop their competences through a number of accompanying lectures and training courses. The students are selected through a two-round competition in which they defend their studies and scientific intentions.

As part of the Brno PhD Talent programme, the city has already supported more than 255 promising talents and, indirectly, their teams and managers. Almost CZK 90 000 000 has already been invested into promising researchers. The scholarships have been provided by the city since 2009, and the implementation of the programme is ensured by the organisation JCMM, z. s. p. o.

Brno PhD Talents from Masaryk University’s Faculty of Science:

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Thomas Contini

Deciphering the human prenatal chemical exposome using high-resolution mass spectrometry.

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Barbora Hrnčířová

Decomposition and utilisation of indigestible plant biomass - lignocellulose. “Using genetic engineering and synthetic biology approaches, I am engineering the bacterium Pseudomonas putida to break down this resistant material into simple sugars. These bacteria should then use the sugars for production of substances with added value, such as biodegradable plastics or compounds used in pharmaceuticals, products that are presently normally produced from oil”, said Barbora, when explaining the potential benefits of her research.

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Alice Laníková

The aim of her project is to describe the dynamics of the MAP2c protein using advanced nuclear magnetic resonance techniques. The information thus obtained on the movements of MAP2c will contribute to our better understanding of its biological role.

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Linda Kašiarová

Her project is focused on the engineering of staphylokinase, which will pave the way for obtaining a new generation of effective, highly-selective and less toxic thrombolytics in cardiovascular medicine.

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Klára Klinkovská

The main goal of her project is to find out how plant communities in the Czech Republic have changed over recent decades, and to reveal possible causes for these changes. The identification of long-term trends will contribute to effective nature protection.

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Pavel Kohout

Unsupervised machine learning makes it possible to exploit large amounts of unannotated biological data. Latent space-based models can map input proteins into an internal coordinate space and reveal meaningful representations. This information can then be used for rational protein design by designing new protein sequences or identifying important mutational residues.

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Jan Mičan

Jan’s project involves computational design of a new generation of thrombolytics.

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Kryštof Mrózek

Kryštof’s project is evaluating the possibilities of a new plasma source for electric propulsion technologies that use residual atmospheres as fuel, enabling the operation of satellites in very low orbit.

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Klára Plačková

Though holocentric chromosomes are less common than monocentric chromosomes, they have several evolutionary consequences for organisms, mainly associated with tolerance of chromosome breaks. The project will unravel the ‘meaning of their existence’ using molecular and microscopic techniques combined with databases of monocentric and holocentric species genome sizes, distributions and ecologies.

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Anna Sobotková

Phage therapy, which uses natural bacterial viruses (bacteriophages), is offered as an alternative to antibiotic treatment. The project focuses on the characterisation of phage infection with the goal of preparing a genetically-modified phage for infection monitoring using fluorescence microscopy, as well as the use of cryo-electron microscopy for structural studies of the phage.

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Alan Strunga

The protein staphylokinase could represent a cheap stroke therapeutic in the future. The challenge is to understand how this protein works and to find recombinant variants that would be safe and effective for use in human medicine.

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Ján Šmeringai

Jan’s project focuses on the biosynthetic pathways leading to the production of the cytokinin plant hormones responsible for the regeneration of the above-ground part of the plant body from protoplasts (individual cells without a cell wall) under in-vitro conditions.

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František Zelenák

František’s project is aimed at innovative methods of producing graphene and new methods of functionalisation that will allow it to be applied in industry, primarily in green technologies such as solar cells or batteries.

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