In the MENDELU Ph.D. talent competition, five students succeeded

2. 4. 2024

The third edition of the MENDELU Ph.D. Talent competition for supplementary talent scholarships for doctoral students has announced its winners. Ten talented students advanced to the second round of the MENDELU Ph.D. Talent competition, where they endeavored to convince impartial experts of the exceptional nature of their past achievements and the qualities of their proposed research project. Ultimately, five of the best received the annual supplementary talent scholarship – Martina Bernatová from LDF, Michal Kolář and Jana Kurcová from AF, Richard Kovárník from PEF, and Marie Zahrádková from ZF.

Students who apply for the competition gain invaluable experience in preparing their own research project. They must formulate their ideas and present themselves in a relatively short time to impress the evaluation committee. Moreover, everything is conducted in English,” described Vice-Rector for Creative Activities Soňa Hermanová.

The competition winners will receive an annual talent scholarship of 10,000 CZK per month. They can utilize these funds for their further development to fully dedicate themselves to research. The expert jury appreciated the elaborate presentations and quality of speech. “There is a noticeable shift, especially in students who are equipped with presentation skills and can discuss and defend the uniqueness of their project and its contribution to the understanding of the field very well. They were agile and promptly answered the evaluators’ questions,” evaluated Hermanová.

Martina Bernatová focuses on assessing the effectiveness of biological protection, which is based on supporting the occurrence of natural predators of pests. In young oak stands, she measures and evaluates selected parameters of tree physiological vitality. Her goal is, among other things, to develop alternative methods of tree protection, thereby reducing the amount of pesticides used. “Participation in the competition has brought me many experiences gained both in the preparation of the written presentation of the project and in the presentation of the project, including deepening communication in English. And winning the scholarship will give me the opportunity to fully dedicate myself to research, for which I am very grateful,” explained the doctoral student from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences.

Richard Kovárník primarily focuses on the possibilities of using mathematical-statistical methods and data science to create models aimed at providing relevant information for effective forest management and insights into how the public utilizes forest ecosystem services. “I applied for the competition mainly to verify if the topic of my work is attractive to others as well. Participation in the competition brought me particularly valuable professional feedback and the opportunity to present my work to others,” stated the doctoral student from the Institute of Statistics and Operational Research at PEF MENDELU, supervised by Jitka Janová.

Marie Zahrádková is dedicated to combating organisms that attack the wood of grapevines, known as the grapevine trunk diseases complex. “These fungal pathogens attack plant vascular bundles, causing the plants to die. The problem is worldwide, mainly due to rapid spread and high financial losses. The current market for protection methods is inadequate. Here, we are trying to utilize newly developed nanoparticles, monitoring their effects on pathogens, the plant itself, and its responses,” described the doctoral student from the Faculty of Horticulture. Participating in the competition helped her gain confidence in presenting in English.

Jana Kurcová from the Faculty of Agronomy presented a project in the competition showcasing innovative possibilities for targeted cancer therapy based on the advantages of commonly used chemotherapeutics and cleverly designed nanozymes. The aim is to limit their effects solely to selected cancer cells, thereby avoiding the common problem of cancer drugs affecting healthy cells. “Participation in the competition provided me with experience in drafting the project and especially presenting it to a ten-member committee of experts from the entire university. And all of this in the English language, so it’s definitely another step forward in advancing my communication skills. It was also a challenge to respond to various questions and comments from the committee and defend my work. Winning this competition is a great honor for me, and I am very grateful for it,” stated Kurcová.

Michal Kolář focuses on active and intelligent packaging for food from renewable sources in his work. Materials for these packages contain an “active component” that enhances the properties of the material. This could involve improving mechanical properties, preventing the growth of harmful microorganisms, or providing protection against sunlight. “Support from the competition will allow me to dedicate more time to research, and it’s a good experience for a budding scientist to put together a proposal for their project and then be able to defend it before an expert committee. For a successful project presentation, it’s not only necessary to prepare a nice, clear presentation and deliver it effectively but also to carefully consider and evaluate all aspects of the project and work,” evaluated the doctoral student from the Faculty of Agronomy.

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