Bratislava, 16 May 2024: Yesterday, Gold Medals of Comenius University were presented to astrophysicists Garik Israeli and Brian May, as well as the ESET company, in the historic Auditorium of Comenius University. Rector Marek Števček honoured the organizers of the STARMUS festival on the occasion of the seventh annual instalment of the festival of science, arts and music, which took place in Bratislava and was co-hosted by Comenius University.

16. 05. 2024 20.41 hod.
By: CU External Relations Office

Astrophysicist Garik Israelian and musician Brian May, known from the band Queen, who also holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics, were personally present to accept the Gold Medal of Comenius University from its Rector for their outstanding lifelong contribution to the promotion and popularisation of science, and for supporting universities as Comenius University through the STARMUS Festival. The third Gold Medal of Comenius University was presented to the representatives of ESET for their support of excellent research, and the popularisation of science and culture in Slovakia. ESET brought the STARMUS festival to Slovakia.

In addition to the gold medals, the rector presented commemorative medals to Richard Marko, Anton Zajac and Pavel Luka of ESET. Commemorative medals were also awarded to five speakers who spoke at CU during this week – the expert on conflicts in the Middle East Rim Turkmani; Mars exploration expert Scott Hubbard; Nobel laureate in physics Donna Strickland; and chemistry Nobel Prize winner Kurt Wüthrich. On Friday, asteroid expert Patrick Michel will give the last lecture in the series.

"There has probably never been a better time in modern history to emphasize the role of rationality in our lives. It is extremely important to focus our minds on the principles of science, which involves constant disciplined criticism and the rejection of cognitive shortcuts. In science, ups are often followed by falls. However, one always needs to get up and try again. I have great respect for all those who adopted this principle as their lifelong mission," said CU Rector Marek Števček. At the same time, the rector emphasised the significance of the STARMUS festival in promoting science in general and Comenius University in the international context in particular.

Dr. Garik Israelian is an Armenian-Spanish astrophysicist from the Institute of Astrophysics in the Canary Islands. He is the founder and creative director of the STARMUS festival. His research led to several major discoveries published in peer-reviewed journals on topics such as extrasolar planets, massive stars, and binary black hole systems.

Sir Brian Harold May, CBE is an English musician, astrophysicist, co-founder of the band Queen and co-founder of the STARMUS festival. In 2005, he became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to the music industry and to charity. In 2007, he received his doctorate in astrophysics at Imperial College London. In 2023, he was knighted by King Charles III.. Apart from music and science, he is a stereoscopy enthusiast and an animal rights activist.

ESET has been offering innovative and award-winning digital security solutions for businesses, homes and critical infrastructure for over 30 years. ESET has long supported science and research, including the activities of Comenius University researchers. The company is also the official associated partner of the university in the ENLIGHT alliance and participates in several projects of Comenius University’s regional academy.

The STARMUS festival is taking place between 12-17 May, 2024 in Bratislava, and its focus this year is the planet Earth. In addition to the main line-up of musical performances and lectures the festival includes a series of lectures at partner academic establishments, among them Comenius University. During the festival, the university is also participating in the STARMUS Camp research and learning center at Hlavné námestie.