Science Offers a Peek into an Open and Yet Undiscovered World
A record number of 170 works by under- and postgraduate students not only from our faculty were registered in this year’s 20th Student Science Conference (SSC) of the 1st Faculty of Medicine.
‘The quality of presentations and posters was very high, which is clearly attested by the fact that some of this work was published in impact-factor journals,’ said Pavel Klener, Vice Dean for Science, on the 23rd of May, immediately after the end of the conference. Together with doc. Jan Živný, the man responsible for organising the conference, he handed awards to students who presented the best work.
We put to the winners the following questions:
1. What do you enjoy about science?
2. Which aspects of your work were the most difficult and which were the most interesting ones?
3. What do you think is the most important element in the relation between student and supervisor?
4. Why did you sign up for the Student Science Conference?
5. How do you like the new format?
6. What was the most valuable experience you take with you from this year’s Student Science Conference
7. Does the award motivate you to engage in science in future?
Bc. Petr Výmola, 5th year, Faculty of Science of the Charles University
Section: undergraduate presentations
Word: The role of stromal cells expressing fibroblastic activation protein in glioblastoma environment
Supervisor: MUDr. Eva Balážiová, Ph.D., Institute of Biochemistry and Experimental Oncology of the 1st Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University
1. I enjoy biology as such. What I like about doing science is that one can venture on completely new, untrodden ground and it is impossible to tell in advance whether the answers one gets are going to be right or wrong. I also really enjoy discussing the meaning of the results and their interpretation.
2. The hardest part for me was lab work, especially in the beginning. Until I understood, at least in part, how laboratory work functions, it was difficult and cost me a lot of time. The more time one spends working, however, the simpler it eventually becomes. What I think is the most interesting aspect of scientific work in general is to observe the results of experiments and to draw conclusions and form plans, both realistic and idealistic, for further experiments.
3. I would say communication is paramount, both from the student to supervisor and the other way around. Exchange of information between them helps in coordinating the work and it improves mutual relations.
4. This is the first time I took part in the SSC and it was an interesting experience. I decided to register my contribution because I wanted to see the work of other students from the 1st Faculty of Medicine and also to present my work to a broader public.
5. The conference was pleasant, but I cannot compare since it was my first.
6. The most valuable experience I take from here is about creating better presentations – this was mainly thanks to what I saw other participants do.
7. After completing my masters’ studies, I want to start a Ph.D. and continue doing science.
Bc. Iveta Míková, recent graduate of the 1st Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University, general nurse
Section: undergraduate posters
Work: Attracting plasma donors to the bone marrow registry
Supervisor: Mgr. Pavla Kordulová, Institute of Nursing Theory and Practice of the 1st Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University
1. It fascinates me how quickly science nowadays evolves and that it still can offer important new contributions to society.
2. The most difficult bit was to shorten and condense my work. Some chapters were elaborated in detail because I find many studies pertaining to bone marrow and plasma donation very important and interesting. I felt I could not leave them out. Another hard nut to crack was the discussion because I was convinced that no one dealt with this issue before. And what was most interesting? That is hard to tell. I find the whole subject of bone marrow donation quite fascinating. I was surprised that despite numerous awareness campaigns, the level of awareness in society is still sadly low and unfortunately even among healthcare personnel, many do not know of the possibility of donation via apheresis collection from peripheral blood. I find the fact that for a full one quarter of people who need allogenous bone marrow transplant a suitable, HLA-compatible donor still cannot be found on time most alarming.
3. Professionalism, supervisor’s expertise, and mutual communication.
4. I want to contribute to awareness of donorship and draw attention to the potential of plasma donors and to the praiseworthy activities of plasmapheresis centres and registers of bone marrow donors.
5. I have no experience of the earlier format but the idea of linking together students from more fields did, I believe, work very well.
6. I was very well pleased by the fact that what decided was not the first impression and the packaging, that what is evaluated is the work as a whole and its contribution. At the conference, I felt I had no chance with my simple A3 posters. And you see!! I am especially happy that my primary goal, that is, the idea of helping to expand the bone marrow registry worked. Based on my project, already over 1,000 potential volunteer plasma donors registered with the bone marrow donor registry. And that will warm my heart for a long time yet.
7. The award is certainly a motivation and I appreciate it very much, but it would not have been possible without the positive response of the staff of the registries of bone marrow donors and plasma donors, as well as colleagues from plasmapheresis centres who supported me. That is why I would like to thank them again. We all have only limited amount time and during the research and in the course of my work, I feel I neglected my family and that is what I want to focus on now, more time with them.
Ing. Olga Součková, 5th year doctoral student
Section: postgraduate presentations
Work: New genetically conditioned defects of de novo purine synthesis
Supervisor: Ing. Marie Zikánová, Ph.D., Department of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine of the 1st Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University and the General University Hospital
1. Science is fascinating especially in that every day you try something new, in many cases something no one investigated before. I find that interesting as well as challenging and difficult.
2. The beginnings are hard but that is probably the same in every job. One must first study a relatively large amount of literature to gain some insight in the issue, to become more familiar with both the particular problem and the wider context. It is very important not to lose faith when work does not turn out the way you would expect, which in research unfortunately happens quite often ... Under Ing. Zikánová’s supervision, my colleagues and I study the metabolism of purines, substances which are for many organisms indispensable – even just that makes the project very interesting. At the same time, I have the opportunity of assisting in the development of new methods which could in future be used in the diagnosis of disfunctions of purine metabolism and in discovering new genetic causes of defects of purine synthesis. It is unique project which involves collaboration with international institutions engaged both in research and clinical practice.
3. I believe that open discussions are essential if work on a project is to be productive. It is important that students be not afraid to come to their supervisors with new ideas or problems they are currently dealing with. That may look trivial, but I think it is a common problem for many students. Then it is of course also important that students be motivated to learn new things, while supervisors need to push their students somewhat to make sure that things move in the right direction.
4. This is the second time I took part in this conference. The first time, I had a poster, this year, I had a presentation. I must say that to my surprise, I found presenting my results in the form of a lecture somehow easier. The main reason I signed up for the SSC was because I wanted to contribute new information about hitherto undescribed malfunctions of purine synthesis and get some feedback and ideas in return.
5. Splitting the conference in a poster and oral presentation section is, I think, a good idea. The ‘competition’ between various sciences, on the other hand, can be quite unpredictable. I can be rather difficult to compare for instance a project focused on environment and a study focused on leukaemia treatment. Both can be highly valued within their particular area of science but a committee consisting mainly of medical doctors may naturally favour a contribution from some medical science.
6. It is a great opportunity to try presenting in a large auditorium and to a relatively broad spectrum of people. That sort of experience can come handy at any conference.
7. Victory is naturally sweet but even so, there is much to work on, be it in terms of designing new experiments, experimental work as such, or final presentation of results. I am not a person who plans too far into future but even so, I know that investigating new things is something I find fascinating and I would like to keep on doing that.
Mgr. Marie Kostelanská, 5th year doctoral student
Section: postgraduate posters
Work: Photodynamic inactivation of prions revealed by mouse bioassay
Supervisor: doc. Ing. Karel Holada, Ph.D., Institute of Immunology and Microbiology of the 1st Faculty of Medicine of the Charles University and the General University Hospital
1. Science is an enterprise where one can implement one’s thoughts and ideas without limitations. There are always new possibilities, things to be investigated. I am fascinated by the new technologies we use and by what they could help us find. It is marvellous to have such access to information, to link information with particular results, and to place them in new contexts that can lead to further progress.
2. What I find most difficult are the times when experiments fail or do not turn out as expected, but that is an integral part of science. What I especially enjoy is learning and using new methods and ways of approaching problems.
3. Like in any area where people collaborate closely, here, too, one must try to be accommodating, act fair, and be reliable. I also think it is important that the supervisor be accessible, available, and willing to critically consider the results, which was the case for me.
4. I and my colleagues from the Prion Laboratory participate in the student conference regularly. I think we produce interesting and high-quality results and this conference presents one of the opportunities for sharing them.
5. In comparison to the previous format of SSC which I had the opportunity to attend, I was quite delighted, especially with the atmosphere of the conference and naturally also the refreshments :) I also feel that the conference is now much more open and focused on students and discussions instead of just a strict determination of who is ‘the best’, as it used to be. The SSC also gives us an opportunity to present our laboratories to undergraduates who consider postgraduate studies. On the other hand, I was sorry to see that the work of some very enthusiastic students was placed only in the conference anthology.
6. I would not say experience, but it was a very pleasant opportunity to expand my awareness of subjects which other colleagues work on. I also met new people and encountered new approaches which may inspire my own work.
7. Science is not only my job but also my hobby and I would like to continue scientific research in future. Even so, I remain open to new possibilities. Naturally, I was delighted to win but even more motivating was the interest of people who stopped by my poster and the enthusiasm of students who were willing to present their highly competent work.
We want to congratulate all winners and all other students who had the courage to sign up for the 20th Student Science Conference! An overview of the most interesting moments can be found on the faculty’s YouTube channel.