Comenius University Seeks Ways to Open Up to the World: Welcoming Thirteen Postdocs from Foreign Universities

Bratislava, 26 November 2021: Comenius University Bratislava set aside nearly one quarter of a million euros annually to support thirteen postdoctoral researchers. Young researchers have come to Comenius University mostly from universities abroad. During their postdoctoral stay they will work on grant-financed projects in both basic and applied research or development at the faculties.

26. 11. 2021 09.30 hod.
By: CU External Relations Office

This is a new programme of Comenius University which was launched this year, although some faculties had postdoctoral exchanges in the past. The activity is intended to support mobility among research sites and increase the attractiveness of careers in science. Postdoctoral researchers are graduates of doctoral studies with a PhD degree. Top universities generally expect them to go and gather experience at a different university, rather than stay where they earned their title. The postdoctoral experience tends to be an intermediate stage between doctoral studies and the position of a university researcher or lecturer.

Amina Khatun from India will be hosted by the lab of Fedor Šimkovic at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics of Comenius University. The postdoctoral researcher will work at the Department of Nuclear Physics to analyse experimental data in order to discover the as-yet unknown basic properties of neutrinos, which are key to understanding the past, the present and the future of the universe. "Our group actively collaborates in two world-leading neutrino experiments: Baikal-GVD, to detect high energy cosmic neutrinos in Lake Baikal; and the JUNO experiment located in the Jiangmen underground lab. The latter will detect antineutrinos from two nuclear reactors which are 53 km away, neutrinos originating in the fusion reactions of light nuclei in the Sun, and low-energy neutrinos created in the Earth's atmosphere due to cosmic radiation," says Amina Khatun. "Comenius University has a vibrant environment for higher education and cutting-edge research," she says of her motivation to apply for the stay.

Successful candidates include young scientists under 35 years of age from Belgium, Iran, France, India, Poland, Tunisia, the Czech Republic, and also from Slovakia.

One postdoctoral researcher has joined the group of Radovan Šebesta to help develop the synthesis of catalytically and biologically active compounds using mechanochemistry. "At modern universities abroad doctoral and postdoctoral researchers form the bulk of their research capacity. In Slovakia, unfortunately, the concept of postdoctoral researcher had until recently been virtually unknown. At the same time, a healthy circulation of people among universities and countries is extremely important because it contributes to an exchange of experience and ideas. It enriches both the researchers and our home environment. I therefore consider the postdoctoral initiative of Comenius University to be very useful and I hope it will continue," said Radovan Šebesta, Professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University.

The university allocated about €700,000 for the programme and planned to fill 21 positions in various fields of science. Eventually, thirteen candidates succeeded in the selection process. Most of them, six, will work at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, five candidates will join the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, and one candidate each will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of Comenius University. The faculties will annually receive 18,624 euros to help cover two thirds of each postdoctoral researcher’s salary.  The remaining third will be paid by the faculty.

"I am pleased that in the first year eight of our faculties showed interest in creating a postdoctoral position. Although we did not manage to fill all the positions, I am convinced that this is a good start. I believe that the number of these positions will increase in the coming years. This is one of the ways in which we open up to the world,” said the Rector of Comenius University Marek Števček.