Key Research Directions
The Faculty of Science is responsible for a large portion of research carried out at the university and contributes significantly to its ever-improving position in international rankings of universities. For example, in the Nature Index, Olomouc Chemistry placed exquisitely in 2016. It has recorded a steep rise by 61.4 percent in the year-on-year comparison, and achieved third place in the domestic competition behind the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and Charles University. A significant rise has also been brought about in Life sciences. Thanks to the Natural sciences, the oldest Moravian University also scored in the international rating of universities – the CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019. Regarding citations of studies, Palacký University belongs to the top among Czech universities.
Local science centers – Centre of the Region Haná and Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials – may be proud of the top achievements in the world-wide comparison. Research is also successful in individual departments.
Research in mathematics concerns all traditional fields of mathematics, i.e., algebra, geometry and mathematical analysis, as well as perspective fields of applied mathematics. Concrete topics cover algebraic methods for study of non-classical logic, differential geometry, differential equations and dynamic systems, in applied mathematics the main focus is on statistical modelling and shape optimization. Research in computer science concerns mainly theoretical computer science, logic, artificial intelligence, analysis and processing of relational data, and analysis and control of discrete systems. Particular focus is on foundational issues, new methods and algorithms, and computational complexity.
Experts focus mainly on basic research in the field of quantum and nonlinear optics, information transfer and processing, study of new materials properties, especially nanoparticles and nanomaterials, and study of effects of physical factors on biological objects. Both the Department of Optics and the Joint laboratory of Optics are developing protocols and schemes for quantum information processing and quantum communication networks. Both departments are also engaged in research and development in the fields of instrumental physics and digital optics. Research of Raman spectroscopy, advanced tomography of optical fields and quantum interactions of light with matter is underway at the Department of Optics. Researchers at the Joint Laboratory of Optics are involved in number of major international projects in the field of particle physics and astrophysics, for which they are also developing various experimental devices. The Department of Biophysics is devoted to the study of plant stress, the formation of reactive oxygen species in living systems, the structural-functional properties of nucleic acids and proteins, and the study of human voice and vocal cords function. The research of the Department of Experimental Physics focuses on the methodology and instrumentation of Mössbauer spectroscopy and the use of nuclear resonance methods in the study of properties of materials and nanomaterials. In the field of international cooperation, the research focuses on the development of experimental facilities for nuclear physics.
The research focuses mainly on synthesis of new compounds and materials with various application potential, the development of methods for detection and identification of substances, investigation of their structure and properties (Dept. of Analytical Chemistry). Scientists develop new complex compounds of transition metals that could be used in human medicine as anti-cancer, antibacterial, antiviral and other effects (Dept. of Inorganic Chemistry). They also deal with the development of new materials with magnetic properties, which in the future can be the basis for data recording media. An important part of the research, with a wide range of applications from molecular electronics to medicine (Dept. of Organic Chemistry), is the study and development of nanomaterials (Dept. of Physical Chemistry), especially graphene-based, and the study of biomacromolecules structure (Dept. of Biotechnology). New methods for detecting and identifying a wide range of compounds emerge, such as pharmaceutical and drug metabolism products, or pollutants of drinking water or food. Scientists of Biochemistry also study molecular mechanisms underlying plant and honey bee immunity and exploit acquired knowledge in search of biomakers of increased resistance to stress conditions.
Biological and ecological disciplines include a wide variety of research directions with interdisciplinary overlap. Botanists focus on taxonomy and ecology of plants, algae and cyanobacteria, biotechnological applications, plant genetics and the influence of stress and pathological factors. Zoologists show excellent results in the field of speciation and hybridization, beetle phylogeny and animal reproduction in a changing environment and on a macro-ecological scale. In the field of ecology and environmental sciences, research is being developed on mammalian population dynamics, landscape ecology with issues of landscape revitalization, fragmentation and biodiversity, processes in agroecosystems and soil, ecology and conservation biology of invertebrates and impacts of climate and anthropogenic changes in mountain ecosystems. In aquatic ecosystems, attention is paid to microbial ecology of water in particular. Cell biologists and geneticists focus on the monitoring and screening of substances that cause inter-drug interactions or lead to disorders of the hormonal control of the organism, and also monitor the biological activity of substances with antitumor effect. Laboratory of Growth Regulators focuses on the development of new, biologically active plant growth regulators, the development of methods for their analysis and the study of their functions and effects. Furthermore, it deals with the study of mutual interactions of light, hormonal and stress signals in plant development and growth, but also in normal and tumor cells, and the development of active substances. Newly established Department of Experimental Biology deals with the identification of unknown natural compounds, the preparation of new compounds that can be used for therapy or diagnosis of human diseases by means of pharmacognosy, medicinal chemistry, chemical and structural biology. Cornerstone of the Department of Chemical Biology is study of the relationship between chemical structure and biological activity of a wide range of synthetic substances derived from naturally occurring compounds. The effects of these compounds are mostly oriented to plant growth and development, which can be observed in vitro and in vivo in greenhouses or on experimental fields, but also, many of them can be used in hygiene, medicine or dermatology.
Researchers work on projects in a wide range of geographical, geoinformatical and geological disciplines. The main directions of applied research include modeling of geographic phenomena in GIS and contactless landscape monitoring, issues of Czech economy transformation, foreign migration and study of development and sustainability indicators. Geoinformatics rank among the top domestic leaders in atlas cartography, they also do research in map reading using eye-tracking technology, which is based on the principle of tracking human eye movement, and 3D printing. Geographers focus in their research on issues such as the urban climate, renewable energy sources, gambling and other socio-pathological phenomena. The main topics of the geologists’ research include the processes of transport and sedimentation and the historical development of contamination in the river environment, however, researchers are involved in a number of other areas. At the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, they deal with applications of environmental science in sustainable cultural landscape management projects in the context of global climate change (focusing on floodplain forest ecosystems in the temperate zone), and, in the development issues researchers address participatory mapping, development and sustainability indicators, evaluation of development interventions and foreign aid allocation.
More information is available on websites of each department.