HR Award – Activities

12 March 2024: IOCB Postdoc Club on Fellowships and HR Award

As part of the IOCB Postdoc Club, about 20 postdocs came to hear Blanka Collis talk about the fellowships that they can apply for, either to gain short-term experience from other laboratories or to plan their next career steps with long-term fellowships.

Following on, Petra Ben-Ari described the current state of the HR Award process at IOCB. She explained how it aims to create a supportive and positive working environment for all employees at IOCB and went on to discuss how postdocs can also contribute towards shaping the priorities of the HR Award agenda at the institute.

7 March 2024: Women in Science host Dr. Hana Lísalová

The Women in Science group hosted the first speaker of 2024 at the Dana Hocková series. Not only were we able to hear an exciting research talk about the development of a portable device used to detect pathogens in the environment, but we also learned about the practical aspects of being a blind scientist and a group leader.

In her morning talk, titled “From antifouling (nano-)coatings to smart biosensing in complex media”, Dr. Hana Lísalová from the Institute of Physics of the CAS described her work on chemical surface modification that is required to increase the sensitivity of sensors. In the afternoon, Hana led an informal and open discussion about the twists and turns of her scientific career, which involved a postdoctoral research stay in the US, becoming a mother of three, and having to combine this with a continued science career, but also having to deal with a disease leading to progressive loss of sight. Despite all these barriers, she remains thoroughly positive and mentioned the need to support those who are more junior to you in the career stage. "Stand up loudly against inappropriate and stereotypical remarks and value your achievements and what you have managed to do," Hana stressed.

Read more here.

Photos: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague

25–26 January 2024: Liblice brainstorming session

Over two days, the IOCB management met with most of the institute’s group leaders in Liblice Castle to discuss the strategic directions of the institute, forthcoming changes, and plans, as well as holding a general brainstorming session.

6 November 2023: Scientific shorts science communication event

During this Week of the Academy of Sciences event, early career researchers from the IOCB explained their research to the general public in short five-minute talks, finding ways to distill the most important of their findings in an accessible way. To make it even more interesting, a combination of Czech and English language was used, and the best talks were chosen by those in the audience for a special award. See more about the event (in Czech).

17–19 October 2023: PhD bootcamp for new students

The annual teambuilding and get-to-know-each-other bootcamp for new PhD students took place in the Krkonoše mountains. Senior PhD representatives and members of the admin team (PhD coordinator, members of the HR department, and Communications) came along to explain how IOCB works and meet the new cohort of students. The retreat, which included board games and climbing the Sněžka mountain, was attended by 36 students, including 8 from 4 countries outside Czechia.

18 October 2023: Careers and research in industry: discussion with scientists from Gilead Sciences

Taking a visit from collaborating pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences as an opportunity, the Women in Science group, together with researchers from Gilead, organized a career-cum-scientific workshop aimed primarily at junior researchers (postdocs and PhD students) to provide them with an insight into R&D careers in industry.

Speakers Meghan Holdorf and Michael Mish recounted the twists and turns of their scientific careers, as well as delving into their stories on HBV surface antigen and lenacapavir in HIV treatment, respectively.

“Don’t expect your career plans to be set in stone in advance and be prepared to adjust them when unexpected opportunities arise.” This recommendation resonated, as did the observation that academic scientists often hoard projects, whereas, in industry, projects are more collaboratively developed.

19 September 2023 and 10 October 2023: Postdoc Initiative meetings restart

The IOCB’s postdoc initiative, after being dormant for a couple of years, started the academic year with a series of meetups to open up a discussion space for postdoctoral researchers, research associates and technical staff.

At their first meeting, the postdocs focused on introductions and on mapping the needs of IOCB postdocs, as well as setting an agenda for future meetups.

The second of these two meetings focused on skill and knowledge sharing, enabling researchers at IOCB to build an in-house peer support network for sharing technical and transferable skills.

16 May 2023: Women in Science host Prof. Štěpánka Vaňáčová

The Women in Science at IOCB initiative hosted the next speaker in the Dana Hocková Lecture series. This time we were treated to an exciting talk Stranger things – the unencoded part of RNA by Prof. Štěpánka Vaňáčová from CEITEC in Brno. After joining a handful of our early career researchers, students, and postdocs, for a lively discussion over lunch, Štěpánka talked about the twists and turns of her scientific career at the informal career seminar. 

The overall impression was of someone who really loves here science and finds it exciting. Particularly memorable was her insight on how important it is to switch mentors several times during your career and to take on the great traits of these mentors when you eventually lead your own team, and not to forget to support more junior researchers in return when you get to this point.

You can read more about the lecture here.

15 February 2023: Women in Science launch the Dana Hocková Lecture series

IOCB’s Women in Science group hosted the inaugural lecture of the Dana Hocková Lecture series. Named in memory of our colleague Dana Hocková, who passed away in May 2021, this was a special event where Dana’s colleague Petra Břehová paid tribute to her scientific work in a stunning tour of her chemistry research over the years. This was followed by Hana Dvořáková, founder of Experientia Foundation and a colleague of Dana’s from their time in Antonín Holý‘s laboratory, discussing her career journey in research and beyond, dipping into the theme of doing science whilst bringing up a family, as well as on the beginnings of her philanthropy journey.

Throughout the talks, the desire for junior scientists, especially women, to have role models around them to be inspired and mentored by, was evident. This is why we are pleased that this was the first one in a series of planned lectures and talks by such role models.

Future events in the Dana Hocková Lecture series will take the form of a research talk in the morning, followed by a career journey talk and an informal networking session in the afternoon.

8 November 2022: Career workshop for PhD students and postdocs

In November, the PhD student representative Terezie Páníková, together with Oldřich Hudeček from IOCB Communications organized an „alternative career options“ seminar with five external speakers to allow the PhD students and postdocs to explore potential career routes outside academia.

The career options that the early career researchers were able to learn ranged from contract research and forensic analysis through working for a funding organization to science communication and science diplomacy.

The event was popular and attended by approximately 70 people.

10–13 May 2022: Lab leadership course for group leaders

In May, the IOCB management organized a lab leadership course, provided by EMBO Solutions, for the junior group leaders and those who have only recently been promoted to senior group leader positions.

The course, led by Petra Pandur and Melanie Glickman from Leadership Sculptor, covered a wide range of topics and was extremely positively received.

„Any newly hired junior group leader should be sent on one of these courses just before they start at the IOCB,“ was the overwhelming feeling of course participants. They also agreed that a huge added value of the course was being able to network with other more junior group leaders at their own institute.

Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague Photo: Tomáš Belloň / IOCB Prague

9 November 2021: Career pathway seminar with Vladimíra Petráková

IOCB’s Women in Science group, with financial support kindly provided by the director, hosted Dr. Vladimíra Petráková, a junior group leader from the J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry of the CAS, at one of the Career Stories informal seminars. After a morning lecture with a scientific focus, some of the researchers, mostly in the early stages of their careers, joined Vladimíra for a very honest and open account of how she has been able to combine a research career, partially spent as a Humboldt research fellow in Berlin, with care for a 4 children family throughout the years, with all the associated ups and downs.

Vladimíra touched upon a range of topics including how to maximize time doing the things you want to prioritize, i.e. science or time with children, how helpful it is to have a supportive mentor and role model, how it is important to ask for help and support when you need it, and how it is useful to have something other than your science to fall back on for positive vibes when the science is not going so well (Vlaďka is a cofounder of the Czexpats in Science NGO).