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From November 6 to 9, 2023, the traditional CHISA chemical-engineering conference took place in the Conference Center of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic at the castle in Třešť. The program offered interesting plenary and student lectures and poster presentations. In the competition for the best student contribution, third place went to Laura Bábanová from our faculty, who developed her work as part of an Erasmus stay at the Istituto per la Tecnologia delle Membrane (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) in Italy. She is a student at the Department of Chemical Engineering and is now working on her diploma thesis under the supervision of doc. Jitka Čejková and Prof. Karel Friess. Her work dealt with functionalized polymer membranes for pesticide degradation. Congratulations and thank you for representing our university at this year's prestigious CHISA 2023 conference.
We were honored to host these two skilled foreign students in our laboratory this summer, Aygun Gasimova from Azerbaijan and Dorota Marie Walecka from Poland.
In the days of July 24th to 28th, the annual Conference on Artificial Life ALIFE 2023 took place in Sapporo, Japan. Jitka Cejkova, after four years, had the opportunity to meet her "ALIFE family" and colleagues from the community in person, as the previous three conferences were held virtually (with Jitka organizing the ALIFE 2021 conference "in Prague").
This year's conference was as captivating as ever, featuring intriguing lectures, workshops, and discussions. Jitka, alongside Olaf Witkowski and Alyssa Adams, conducted ISAL Summer School on Artificial Life. During the Monday sessions, videos were published in which leading scientists in the field summarized their research and explained their dedication to artificial life, all within ten minutes. Friday's segment consisted of engaging discussions and Q&A sessions.
Moreover, Jitka hosted “CHEMALIFORMS III - the Third Workshop on Chemistry and Artificial Life Forms” where she gave a lecture on the topic of R.U.R. and the Vision of Artificial Life.
A significant highlight of the conference was the promotion of the book "R.U.R. and the Vision of Artificial Life " set to be published by MIT Press on 2nd January 2024. More than half of the contributors to this book were present at the conference. Additionally, among the 100 authors who contributed to the Czech book "ROBOT 100," published by the VSCHT Prague publishing house in November 2020, there were 18 authors who attended the event (see photo).
All Alifers are eagerly looking forward to ALIFE 2024, which is scheduled to take place in Copenhagen. Following that, there is even more excitement building up for ALIFE 2025, which will be held in Kyoto. These conferences will undoubtedly provide unique opportunities for researchers, scientists, and enthusiasts to come together, exchange ideas, present their latest findings, and further advance the fascinating field of artificial life research. As the ALIFE community continues to grow and evolve, these upcoming conferences promise to be memorable and enriching experiences for all attendees.
Last week, we had a student from ParkLane join us for an internship in our laboratory. We were delighted to introduce her to our University of Chemistry and Technology Prague and provide insights into the world of scientific research. Throughout her stay, she had the opportunity to learn about various aspects of student life and even observed the final exams as a guest. In addition, she actively participated in an experiment involving the preparation of liposomes, and I'm pleased to say that her attempt was successful.
During her time here, we engaged in extensive discussions about the university, and she gained a deeper understanding of our ongoing research endeavors. It was fascinating to witness her enthusiasm as she explored our facilities and witnessed firsthand the cutting-edge work being conducted by our researchers.
We believe that this experience was mutually beneficial, as our visiting student gained valuable insights into our university's academic environment, while we had the opportunity to share our knowledge and introduce our university. It is through such collaborative initiatives that we continue to cultivate a spirit of innovation and excellence in scientific education.
We look forward to future partnerships with ParkLane and exchanges that will further enhance our global academic community.
Many congratulations to Adriana Augustínová and Eliška Paulíková for successfully defending their bachelor theses today. Well done, girls! Thank you for your work and looking forward to the furter collaboration!
The controlled growth of chemical gardens from mixed liquid and solid seeds
Chemical gardens, intriguing and visually captivating structures formed through the self-assembly of inorganic compounds in water glass, have long fascinated scientists and sparked interest in control of their unique growth formation. This work aims to explore the use of different seeds for chemical garden growth, utilizing a novel and innovative approach involving solidified marbles, tablets, and mixed seeds. Previous research has mainly focused on controlling and studying the composition of seeds from one type of salt. This approach introduces solidified marbles as seed materials, a method not explored previously. In this study, mixed seeds were prepared and characterized to identify suitable experimental arrangements and compositions that yield self-growing structures with desired properties. Investigating mixed seeds introduces a novel aspect to the field, combining different seed types containing chlorides and sulphates with various cations. This research demonstrates the utilization of prepared seeds for achieving controlled growth of chemical gardens. This advancement enables in the future the design of intricate structures, which may revolutionize fields such as chemical 3D printing and materials engineering through the innovative use of solidified marbles and mixed seeds.
Study of translational and rotational motions of self-propelled chemical objects
This thesis is concerned with the study of translational and rotational motions of liquid robots, which in
this work were droplets of decanol in sodium decanoate solution. A parametric study was carried out where the movements of the liquid robots were examined as a function of their volumes and the lengths of the objects placed on them. The code was written and tested in Matlab for image analysis, which was also used to evaluate the motion of liquid robots. Trajectories of the liquid robots, but also of the objects placed on them, and the dependence of velocity, respectively angular frequency over time were plotted from the acquired data. A hypothesis for the motion mechanism of the liquid robots was proposed and subsequently confirmed experimentally
We are proud to announce that Eliška Paulíková represented our group exceptionally well at the SSCHE 2023 conference held from May 15th to 18th, 2023, in the beautiful surroundings of the High Tatras and received an award in the poster competition for her work titled "Study of Translational and Rotational Motions of Self-Propelled Liquid Robots." Congratulations, Eliška! Well done!
In the fall of 2022, a new COST action titled DYNALIFE (Information, Coding, and Biological Function: the Dynamics of Life) was launched, and Jitka Čejková was elected as the Working Group 4 leader and science communication coordinator. This week, the first major conference took place in Venice, and Jitka would like to share her summary of the entire event.
We are pleased to share with you the successful outcome of the "80, 70, 20 Conference: Towards Excellence and Convergence Research in Theoretical Biology," which took place from May 2nd to May 4th in Venice, Italy. The conference celebrated three important anniversaries in the history of theoretical biology, including the 80th anniversary of Erwin Schrödinger's book "What is Life?" and the definition of the new field of "Epigenetics" by Conrad Waddington in 1943, the 70th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953, and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first complete sequencing of the human genome in 2003.
The conference featured four keynote speakers, including Achille Giacometti, Director of the European Center for Living Technology (Venice, Italy), Paul Davies, Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science (USA), Alberto Credi, pioneer on molecular motors and Pro-Rector of the University of Bologna, and Michael Russell, pioneer of the theory of the origin of life in marine hydrothermal vents. The event also included short and long lectures, as well as a poster section.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the organizers for their hard work in making this conference a success. We hope that this first conference has kickstarted four years of fruitful collaboration within our COST action. Please feel free to visit our website to stay up to date with our progress and upcoming events. You can also find a photo gallery from the conference on our website, along with all the essential information regarding our COST action.
Thank you to all who participated and contributed to the success of the conference. We look forward to continuing our work together and achieving further excellence and convergence research in theoretical biology.
Jitka is a puppywalker - a volunteer who trains future guide dogs. First we had a yellow labrador Gin, then a black Ingo in our group. And now Ingo was replaced by his paternal half-brother - named after one of the basic SI units: Kelvin.
The annual Student scientific conference (SVK) took place at UCT Prague today and Eliška Paulíková won in the Applied informatics and cybernetics session! Congratulations! Áďa Augustínová, Vojta Blahušek and Nina Nováková also represented our group in an exemplary manner. Thank you all! Keep up your hard work and enthusiasm for science!
On October 5 - 8, 2022, the teambuilding event "Běstvina 2022" took place for students of the 1st year of the Master's degree in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. The event was attended by 32 students who stayed for three nights at the UCT Prague camp base in Běstvina and traveled by bus on the excursion every day. The program included a total of 6 industrial excursions (Škoda Auto, Synthesia, Kemwater ProChemie, Pardubice Brewery, wastewater treatment plant in Kutna Hora) and a block of presentations by representatives of the research groups of our department. The event was organized by Jitka Čejková.
The University of chemistry and technology Prague was also participating in the European Researchers Night this year . On 30 September 2022 from 5:00 p.m. the doors of scientific workplaces, universities, museums and other participating institutions were opened and visitors were allowed to see research presentations on the subject of All the Senses. This year, however, instead of showing her laboratory, Jitka presented "her" dog Ingo to the participants. The theme was "All the senses" and so she and the representatives of SVVP dog centre Jinonice showed how the guide dogs help the blind when they lack one sense. Jitka is training future guide dogs since 2021.
The University of Chemistry and Technology Prague celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. On this occasion, a paper (in Czech) by Jitka Čejková devoted to the Faculty of Chemical Engineering was prepared. First, the history of the faculty and the development of its departments is summarized. The faculty was established as the Faculty of Chemical Production, Automation and Economics in 1960 and it was renamed to the Faculty of Chemical Engineering in 1969. Further, the key scientists, teachers and deans are introduced and their contribution to the advancement of the faculty highlighted. The current offer of study programs (bachelor, master and doctoral) in both Czech and English is also listed.
Today, we had a kick-off meeting of a new COST Action titled "Information, Coding, and Biological Function: the Dynamics of Life" in Brussels. Jitka Čejková was elected as the Work Group 4 leader and Science communication coordinator.
On September 12-13, Jitka was invited to attended an exploratory workshop which was hosted at the European Centre for LivingTechnology (ECLT) in Venice. The focus areas were: The creation and exploration of living and life-like materials and The dynamics of systems for generalized health.
COST Action Chemobrionics Pisa Meeting 2022 started today. Jitka and four students (Adriana Augustínová, Vojta Blahušek, Nina Nováková, Eliška Paulíková) attend this 3-day event full of interesting talks and discussions.
Many congratulations to Nina Nováková for successfully defending her bachelor thesis titled “Experimental study of the myelin figures growth”. Thank you, Nina, for your work and looking forward to the furter collaboration!
Myelin figures are long, thin cylindrical structures that usually grow as a dense tangle when water is added to the concentrated lamellar phase of certain surfactants. In our laboratory, we observed the growth of these figures, on the contrary, when the water evaporates from the system. The aim of this bachelor thesis was to experimentally study myelin figures growing from a decanol droplet in the presence of an aqueous solution of sodium decanoate depending on the presence of different types of salts.
It was our pleasure to host Ecaterina Laura Cioban - Erasmus student from Romania. She spent several weeks in our laboratory working on liquid marbles. And now George Loustas - an IAESTE student from Greece - will continue his experiments with liquid marbles.
Master's graduations took place on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. At the same time, the Betlemská Chapel hosted a ceremonial award with the medals of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering of three outstanding personalities who, with their scientific, pedagogical or organizational activities, contributed to the development of our faculty. Dean of the faculty prof. Michal Přibyl handed over the medal personally to doc. Pavel Chuchvalec from the Department of Physical Chemistry, doc. Jitka Čejková from the Department of Chemical Engineering and doc. Vladimír Scholtz from the Department of Physics and Measurement Technology.
Many congratulations to Vojta Blahušek for successfully defending his bachelor thesis titled “Experimental study of mechanical properties of liquid marbles”. Thank you Vojta for your work and all the best for your future!
Congratulations to Mathis Leeman, Nina Nováková and Vojta Blahušek for their great presentations at Student Scientific Conference SVK 2021. Today Mathis presented his results on chemical gardens, Nina on myelin figures and Vojta on liquid marbles. Well done, keep going!
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need
Our interanational student Mathis Leemann from Switzerland made a short film titled "Chemobrionics". This film had a world premiere today at the 25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival in the section Fascinations: Exprmntl.cz.
The title of this 5-min length audio-visual chemobrionics related project is a quotation by Cicero and it was chosen with the aim to show, that in the same way as Roman garden was designed for thinking, philosophizing and discourse, the chemical gardens can also open the door to philosophical questions such as what life is and how it originated, how we distinguish the biological systems from their chemical counterparts. Our video focuses on showing the beauty of silicate chemical gardens composed of plant-like tubular structures made of metal salts placed in a water glass. The viewer is be puzzled by the hypnotic slow growth of the structures and the manifold of colors they can produce. Tiny aerial air bubbles, flowing inner solutions, thick and alien-like structures changing colors let the audience perplexed, dreamy, wondering why nature is presenting such delightful sight. Furthermore, extracts of Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann, The Origin of Life by John Desmond Bernal and Mechanism of life by Stéphane Leduc are added to deepen the experience. The inspiration for this audio background was taken from Julyan Cartwright’s works focused on the chemical gardens, their history and mentions in the literature.
- Director and producer: Jitka Čejková
- Editor: Mathis Leemann
- Camera operator: Mathis Leemann, Jan Havlík
- Experiments: Mathis Leemann, Jan Havlík, Saniya Ustunn
- Voice: Declan Garvey
- Music: Chopin - Raindrop Prelude (Op. 28 No. 15), performed by Petr Mazúr
This film is based upon work from COST Action CA17120, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology). COST is a funding agency for research and innovation networks. Our Actions help connect research initiatives across Europe and enable scientists to grow their ideas by sharing them with their peers. This boosts their research, career and innovation.
Jan Spitzer, a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Queen Elizabeth College at the University of London, has had a long career in chemistry and polymer science, as Associate Professor, and Research and Development Manager in synthetic latex industry. He is the author or coauthor of numerous peer-reviewed papers, technical articles, and book chapters. He studied University of Chemistry and Technology Prague and he visited after many years his alma mater today. It was our honour to be his guide and get his recent book How Molecular Forces and Rotating Planets Create Life - The Emergence and Evolution of Prokaryotic Cells.
The International Society for Artificial Life announced the winners of the 2021 ISAL Awards. The awards were presented to recipients during the online 2021 Conference on Artificial Life organised in Prague. I am very honoured that one of the awards went to also to me!
Distinguished Early-Career Investigator Award - to recognize an individual who is early in their career, but has already made important contributions to the field of Artificial Life.
Alan Dorin said during the ceremony: "Jitka is a strong contributor to the ALife domain, both technically, and to the ALife community. This year, as you can see, she has done a fantastic job of organising a specially themed ALife conference, building on the 100th anniversary of the word "robot". She put together a fabulous book, soon to be released, of essays by a wide range of scientists, on the play RUR, and she is working hard behind the scenes to build links and bridges across the ALife community. On the technical side, she is prominent in chemical robotics, with exciting ways to apply to ALife. She applies minimal cognition principles to chemical robotics Her work has led to some creative droplet experiments, which have re-vitalized the "wet" ALife tradition."