"I was very pleasantly surprised by the commitment and enthusiasm of the participants who worked very hard throughout the two days. The eventual publication would be the icing on the cake. But first the students have to learn how to choose a topic well and develop it so that they have a chance to get into quality journals. Interdisciplinarity is an important tool for this. I, along with other colleagues, tried to help them do this. I am also very happy with the mentor team involved. They are not only great experts but also very friendly personalities. We all did our best to be there for our PhD students," said Jana Kukutschová, the Vice-Rector for Science and Research, under whose auspices the event took place and who also took on a role as a mentor.
Four teams embarked on interdisciplinary collaboration
The SWC was attended by 18 PhD students from three faculties, some of whom also work at the Centre for Energy and Environmental Technologies (CEET). The eight micro-teams that applied for the camp formed four groups, looking for collaboration opportunities, for example, in the preparation of a unique photocatalytic membrane for the degradation of pollutants in water, the shielding of gamma rays by a composite material containing lead foam, the use of waste for domestic heating, or the investigation of water quality and its use in critical infrastructure, specifically in healthcare.
"I have participated in other PhD Academy events. But the great thing about this camp was that the programme was concentrated into two days, during which we really worked very hard and gained a lot of information that will take us further. It gave us a feel for working together and made us think about one topic from different perspectives," revealed Jan Diviš, a participant from the winning team from CEET and the Faculty of Mining and Geology. The team brought together young researchers from the Energy Research Centre and the ENET Centre, both part of CEET. "Although we are from the same research centre, we look at science a little differently. We were looking at the question of using waste for fuel in small combustion plants. While we were more concerned with the input material and its properties, our colleagues are interested in the combustion outputs. We complement each other and we are able to work on science from different sides of one device and topic," added the PhD student, who also greatly appreciated the approach and input of the mentors.
Zuzana Vilamová, a PhD student in Nanotechnology at the Faculty of Materials Engineering and Technology comes from another part of CEET, the Nanotechnology Centre (CNT). "Our micro-teams had a common research objective, so the collaboration could continue in the future. The CNT representatives are tasked with preparing a material for degradation of pollutants in water, and colleagues at the Institute of Environmental Technology, CEET, will test its effectiveness. It is important to think about how the material can be applied, and this is where the IET is more experienced. Discussions with mentors have been very useful, and their comments and questions have enabled us to clarify some things that are important in research and in writing a publication. The fact that they were not all from our field gave us a slightly different perspective on the issue," the PhD student confirmed.
Mentors appreciated PhD students' interest
One of the mentors was David Řehák from the Faculty of Safety Engineering. He was also satisfied with the course of the camp. "Together with the other mentors we have to say that the students were absolutely fantastic. We saw huge interest and great activity in defining the topics so that they have a chance to get into high quality impact journals. We were also very pleasantly surprised by their interest in our advice and suggestions, which they were willing to immediately take into account in their work," said Řehák.
The role of mentor was not new to him, and he tries to guide his PhD students in a similar way. "But I also appreciated the really strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity at this event. For some of the teams, there was an unusual integration of their disciplines. But I am very pleased that all of them succeeded and demonstrated that interdisciplinary research can have quite a wide impact across the University, not just by PhD students but by all researchers," he added.
Jan Diviš, Rostislav Prokeš, Jiří Ryšavý, Jakub Čespiva
Presentation: Application of Modified Solid Recovered Fuel in Residential Combustion Units for Sustainable Heat Energy Supply
Rudolf Ricka, Adéla Šlachtová, Tereza Motúzová, Jakub Zágora, Zuzana Vilamová, Pavel Czernek
Presentation: Photocatalytic Degradation of Metropol Using Polymeric Mebranes with GO/C3N4 Nanocomposite
Joint 3rd place (two teams were awarded 3rd place)
Marek Miškay, Dominik Jursa, Šimon Kielar, František Zlámal
Presentation: Gamma Radiation Shielding with Lead Foam Composite Material
Kristýna Pustějovská, Oto Novák, Alena Šplíchalová, Heidi Janečková
Presentation: Types of Water Used in The Critical Infrastructure System
Jana Kukutschová, Daniela Plachá, Alena Kašpárková, David Řehák, Stanislav Honus, Robert Šamárek, Tomáš Inspektor
Text: Martina Šaradínová, PR Specialist for R&D
Photo: Petr Havlíček