How do young foreign scientists live and work at the UJEP Faculty of Environment?

UJEP does not hide the fact that in the future, following the example of the most prestigious universities, it would like to significantly strengthen the representation of foreign workers. What is less known, however, is that this process is running intensively and the first results have already arrived. At the Faculty of Environment, they even had to allocate a new office for young foreign research reinforcements. And how are the three postdocs who are involved in environmental biotechnology research in Ústí living and working? We tried to find out in a short online interview.

All three of them are concerned with how to use living organisms to remove undesirable substances from the environment. But the story of each of them is a little different:

The first foreign postdoc to come to solve this topic at the FŽP is Sebastiana Roccuzzo, Ph.D. She comes from sunny Italy, but she arrived to Bohemia from the northernmost parts of Europe. She completed her doctoral studies at The British University of Sheffield.

In the autumn of 2018 we got a new colleague, Karim Al Souki Ph.D. Like Sebastiana, he had a long previous experience abroad. He completed his master’s degree in his native Lebanon, but he studied for a doctorate in France at ISA Lille.

So far, the latest postdoctoral reinforcement is Kumar Pranaw, Ph.D. In his case, Ústí nad Labem is his first home outside India. However, he had the opportunity to gain experience in laboratories there for several years after completing his doctoral studies.


Sebastiana, Kumar and Karim

How did you get to this position (how did you hear about it, what did you do for getting it…)?

Sebastiana: I just moved to the Czech Republic from England towards the end of my PhD and I was looking for post-doctoral research opportunities in the field of environmental biotechnology. Hence, I got in touch with Prof. Trögl at FŽP with a spontaneous application consisting of my cover letter, curriculum and all relevant certificates. After an interview, I formally received an offer for a junior post-doc position within the SMART Project (note: part of project Smart City – Smart Region – Smart Community dealing with quality of life and environment).

Kumar: During 2018, I had more than 4 years of post-Ph.D. experience but all in India, so I was looking for some foreign country exposure and came to know about this position from the Euraxess (note: this position is supported by project U21-KLIP). The research sounds interesting so just applied through email with required documents and further given Skype interview for the same.

Karim: In 2018, while I was searching for a post-doc position, prof. Trogl shared with his colleagues the announcement of a position in the framework of the “New Phytotechnology for Cleaning Contaminated Military Sites” project. My former PhD supervisor was among the friends list and forwarded the mail to me. After reading the job description, I was more motivated and excited to apply. I applied, then passed the interview stage and ended up as a post-doctorate at UJEP.

What is your research topic here?

Sebastiana: My research was focused on the development of sustainable systems of micro-algae and bacteria for the removal of endocrine disrupting micro-pollutants from wastewater. My work led to the publication of the paper ‘New perspectives on the bioremediation of endocrine disrupting compounds from wastewater using algae-, bacteria- and fungi-based technologies’ (https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-020-02691-3).

Kumar: I am working here on “Microbes mediated enhancement of biomass production and simultaneous remediation of contaminated soil”. My research includes, How a plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) with its heavy metal resistant specially lead (Pb) resistant nature, enhance the growth and phytoremediation potential of the Miscanthus x giganteus when grown on a metal contaminated land. How this PGPB interacts with the metal uptake and their translocation/ accumulation etc.

Karim: My research is divided into 2 sections (field and pot experiments). The main objective of the field experiments was to validate the positive impacts of the Miscanthus x giganteus (the model plant used in our laboratory for phytomanagement) on enhancing the low quality agricultural soil quality mainly studying its impacts on carbon sequestration. The objective of the second section was to determine the efficacy of miscanthus to remediate multiple contaminated soils (heavy metals, PAH and diesel) and monitor its reaction against the multiple stressors.


Kumar during Night of Scientists at UJEP and his “Starch eating heavy metal resistant bacteria” at workshop for children (source: facebook FŽP UJEP)

Are you satisfied with working at UJEP (in every direction which comes to your mind – money, equipment, colleagues…) and would you like to continue with cooperation with UJEP in future?

Sebastiana: Working at UJEP came with a lot of benefits, as the research grant I was on included money and equipment to support every aspect of research. During my time here I have established good working relations and I would be happy to cooperate again with UJEP in the future.

Kumar: Yeah, Quite satisfied with working at UJEP.

The monthly remuneration is absolutely good but if the government reduces the tax it becomes marvelous. J

The infra structure facility is GOOD but as in some areas its needs improvement. As I am a microbiologist and here at UJEP some microbiological equipment is very limited, otherwise every high-end equipment is available here for chemical analysis.

Regarding Colleagues, I am lucky here that I have surrounded by good peoples. When I was coming here from India for the very first time, I was little bit tensed about how I will manage there as I don’t know the Czech language (While coming From India, I just mug up only one sentence neumim cesky J) but from the airport only, I found a very helping hands in the form of Diana and David, who always ready to help me till date on both personal and professional fronts. It’s difficult to start a job when you are new to that place, but my research started with a pace and that is the reason, I have submitted two papers out of my, I year of work and credit goes to Dr. Hana Malinska. Without her help, it was little bit difficult for me to give a pace to my work. She not only helped me professionally but she becomes my very first friend in the Czech Republic. If I wrote a list of names, It will become a long list like Dr. Josef, Nella, Marek, Jakub, Janko, Hana B, Dominik, Karim and sorry If forgot to mention any name here, in short, whoever came in contact with me, I think all of them are very helpful and kind in nature.

As far as future cooperation with UJEP is concerned, I am always willing and open for that. Even I am trying hard to get some project funds that support my stay here in future.

Karim: Yes, I am highly satisfied with working at UJEP. The entire team is very helpful and cooperative and kind. I have been given a large margin of independency and support by my supervisor (prof. Trogl) who helped me to perform my experiments. Finally, yes I do want to extend my residence here in Usti and my work contract at UJEP.

How do you enjoy your stay (in general)?

Sebastiana: I enjoyed my stay at UJEP, and the freedom and independence I had to explore my research topic.

Kumar: In general, it’s good. I enjoyed my stay as you know I came from a place like Delhi, which is very populated and polluted both J. So far I find Usti as a very peaceful place.

Karim: I am enjoying my time here in Usti (workwise) and to a certain limit social wise.


The research is not done only in lab coat. We got Karim involved in work right after his arrival.

What do you like the most about the Czech Republic and on the other hand what did disappoint you here?

Sebastiana: Czech Republic is a beautiful country which gives many opportunities to enjoy nature and outdoor activities. The quality of life is high, and there is a very good work-life balance culture at UJEP. In my opinion, Czech Republic is doing a great job at modernizing its infrastructure, securing funding and attracting young researchers from abroad. However, the language barrier remains an issue. Hence, I would suggest that UJEP could provide in the future a Czech language course for foreign staff in order to improve communication and facilitate their inclusion.

Kumar: People are very professional here. No one will unnecessarily interfere here. It is very good and I like it. Freedom in research is always required. I want to add something here about two persons, the two ladies, whom I met here, who are present at the reception office at my department and another one is at dormitories where I stay. As I told earlier that I don’t know Czech and they don’t know English but whenever we met, we had a conversation and we convey our message through our body language. She speaks in Czech and I replied to her in English, and we understand each other. I always feel very happy after interacting with them. Here I found very helpful people around but as you know, every coin has two faces. Some time at the shopping market or on the streets, I found some stupid fellow too, whose gesture frightened me.

For disappointments so far I don’t have anything like a very big issue here for which I say I am disappointed, Yeah but I just want to mention one thing that for Visa renewal whenever I visited Foreign Police Office, I found it very difficult alone because no one speaks English there. The office is for foreigners and you don’t speak English. How they can expect a foreigner to speak Czech without living here for a longer time. J Strange but true. I have started learning Czech by the way ;).

Karim: I liked several things here in Usti. First beer J, it is of good taste and not expensive at all. The gathering and the spirit of people in the pubs is great too. I also liked food. Nature around Usti is very beautiful (lakes and mountains). I liked also the people here (mainly for their honesty). What I dislike is the fact that I am not able to speak in Czech (I thought it was an easy task, however I need to practice more).

Anything else you would like to tell us.

Kumar: For everyone, every part, or you can say every moments of your life is having several memories. And I love to make memories out of anything. I would like to tell you, I have very wonderful memories with me after coming to the Czech Republic. For example, within 2 days of my arrival, I went for trekking to see a frozen waterfall at Usti and due to snow and rain we faced lots of difficulties to reach there especially Karim and myself as we are slipping on snow while walking all the way to that place, and it’s very funny that after every 10 min people are waiting for us… like that I have lots of cherished moments here which become a sweet memories for my lifetime.

Karim: I would like to thank everyone at UJEP and hopefully to many years of cooperation, and beers to drink together 😉

SMART Projects
MATEQ Projects

Mobility and UJEP, where have we gone?

The seminar of the Smart City – Smart Region – Smart Community project, which was mainly devoted to mobility, took place on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at the J. E. Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem. The seminar was attended by representatives of the SMART ITI project team from UJEP and FD CTU, representatives of the region, the city and other experts dealing with the topics of transport and transport behavior.

Presentations from the workshop are available here.

To compare the development we have seen in a year of hard work, you can look at the results of last year’s seminar:

The full text and program in Czech

High-speed line Prague-Ústí is a bit closer

Would you be willing to pay double if your trip to work was twice as fast? When will we get to Prague from Ústí nad Labem in less than half an hour? What other benefits can the construction of the region’s high-speed line bring?

Source: ČT24 (High-speed lines will be built in six years, the head of SŽDC promised the Minister, 13 May 2019)

The project is implemented in the Program for the Support of Cross-Border Cooperation between the Czech Republic and the Free State of Saxony 2014–2020 co-financed by the European Union. Its leader is the Railway Administration. J. E Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, together with the Czech Geological Survey, is one of the Czech partners.

The full text of the news in Czech

Czech-German conference and green and blue infrastructure

On Thursday, November 28, 2019, a Czech-German conference was held at UJEP dealing with the importance of green and blue infrastructure for the quality of life in cities. The aim of the conference was to present and discuss partial results of the cross-border project BIDELIN, which focuses on the evaluation of ecosystem services in the partner cities of Liberec, Děčín and Dresden.

Ecosystem services are the benefits that one obtains from nature. Especially in cities, it is important to cool the surroundings and reduce the costs of air-conditioning, water retention and flood damage, capture of harmful substances from the air, but also aesthetic function and positive impacts on the health of the population. The conference presented the evaluation of parks and other greenery in cities. The network of interconnected water and green elements in the urban environment is referred to as green-blue infrastructure.

Program of the event HERE.

The importance of greenery and water for quality of life in the city

The Czech-Saxon project BIDELIN hosts a conference that will culminate in the three-year effort of FSE, IEEP and LIOR scientists in the fields of green and blue infrastructure, ecosystem services, climate change and quality of life. The meaning of these terms and experience with their fulfillment will be presented on November 28 at UJEP.

The conference The importance of green and blue infrastructure for the quality of life in cities will take place on November 28, 2019 at the UJEP Multifunctional Center, in the purple auditorium at the university campus.

Registration for the conference by e-mail to ieep@ieep.cz by November 14, 2019.

The conference will speak Czech and German (simultaneous interpretation provided).

Participation in the conference is free of charge.

The full text of the news in Czech

Greenery and water in the city – clearly and comprehensibly

Research teams linked to the Faculty of Socio-Economic have been involved in the adaptation of cities to climate change in several projects and there are many interesting results behind them. These take the form of several important professional publications, but also realized studies or practical methodologies that have an impact on the life of specific cities. The latest achievement within the BIDELIN project is a video that presents an interconnected network of greenery and water features that can make urban life more enjoyable.

The video was directed by colleagues from IEEP as part of the Bidelin project, which aims to map, improve and protect the services and values of nature in cities, such as Dresden, Liberec and Děčín (project leaflet). Within the project a student course (autumn run 2019, autumn 2018) or summer school takes place once a year.

The full text of the news in Czech

Platform for green and blue infrastructure

Existing experience in planting greenery in cities and in the countryside, barriers and benefits and costs of local and national projects and the possibilities, pros and cons of using modern technologies in the area of green and blue infrastructure. These will be the main topics for the second workshop of the Platform for Green and Blue Infrastructure.

The meeting will take place on November 28, 2019, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm in the meeting room of the Faculty of Social and Economic Studies at the UJEP Campus in Vilka (Pasteurova 1).

Two topics will be discussed during the meeting:

  1. A million, ten million trees! Is it enough? It will help?
  2. Urban greenery and the Internet of Things – opportunities for development

The workshop is realized within the project Smart City – Smart Region – Smart Community.

The full text of the news in Czech

The commercialization project will be protected by a patent

A new compound for grinding wheels has received a patent. It was created at the Faculty of Environment with the contribution of FSE within the sub-project of commercialization. The patented product will contribute to more efficient machining and several companies have already expressed interest in it.

Image of globular corundum, is one component of the mixture (100x magnified)

Commercialization at UJEP is supported by the Technology Transfer CenterCTT, which was established thanks to a joint project of TACR GAMA COMNID together with the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry AS CR and the General University Hospital Prague. Due to the increasing importance of transfer, UJEP is trying to develop this center and firmly anchor it into the University structures.

The full text of the news in Czech

Visits by foreign experts at UJEP

UJEP has been actively cooperating with foreign companies for a long time. Several foreign experts visited the University of Ústí as part of the STUVIN project. This has been a great asset to the University, as both the staff and students and the public have the opportunity to meet and discuss each other on a variety of topics. At the same time, the experiences that are used in the creation of new fields of study are shared.

During the solution of the STUVIN project, which is coordinated by the Faculty of the Environment, many internships of FŽP and PřF were mediated and very interesting and important guests came to UJEP. We bring you an overview of the most interesting visitors.

The full text of the news in Czech

LIGMIG – a new project will support young scientists in research

The team of workers and students of the Faculty of Environment and the Faculty of Science succeeded in the call of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic within the program ZÉTA to support applied research. The program aims to connect academia and businesses and support young scientists under 35 years of age.

The team led by Dr. Hana Malinska, Ph.D. The Commission has been interested in the plan to optimize the process of producing energy biomass with regard to its chemical composition. The project is a follow-up to several years of research on the cultivation of the energy crop Miscanthus x giganteus on contaminated and infertile soils carried out at the FŽP in cooperation with other faculty staff.

Illustrative photo: container experiment with Miscanthus x giganteus at FZP from previous research

The full text of the news in Czech