13. Apr. 2023

PhD candidate Jan Smeringai is studying plants under the supervision of Marketa Pernisova. This year, he received the prestigious Brno PhD Talent award from the Mayor of Brno Marketa Vankova. Every year, the City of Brno, in cooperation with the South Moravian Centre for International Mobility, awards the Brno PhD Talent to 25 top PhD candidates enrolled in science and technology disciplines. This year, 127 students from Brno universities entered the competition. The quality of the submitted projects, their achievements and their English skills were evaluated by top scientists from the Czech Republic and abroad. The awarded students will get the opportunity to participate in selected activities supporting their professional development and networking every month, but also a scholarship, which supports their research.

What is the focus of your research project?

Plants have a remarkable ability to efficiently regenerate individual organs and the whole body. This ability is conditioned by the function of plant hormones called phytohormones. My project focuses on the study of a specific group of phytohormones – cytokinins – and their role in the regulation of shoot regeneration from individual cells in in vitro conditions. The future results of my project could provide a valuable tool for the production of transgenic plants and the propagation of desirable plant genotypes.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in science?

I've been close to nature since I was a kid, and as I got older, I became more and more interested in plants. That's why I decided to pursue plant biology. For me, working in science brings a very appealing cocktail of the adventure of the unexplored, social responsibility and the healthy challenge of overcoming myself.

What do you enjoy most about your research project?

The very diverse work at a cutting-edge core facility. As far as the project is concerned, I'm fascinated by the sheer plasticity of plants and especially their ability to regenerate out of virtually any part of the body.

If you were to let your imagination run wild a little and be very ambitious, which specific applications of your project can you imagine in an optimistic scenario? 

If I let my imagination run wild, my results could help propagate ornamental or fruit plants from a single cell.

Do you have a scientific role model? Who and why? 

Gregor Johann Mendel. Not only because he was based in Brno, but his genius lies primarily in the fact that, through relatively simple experiments, he was able to obtain and interpret data that advanced knowledge in incredible ways.

Can you tell us a bit about your hobbies and who you are in your spare time when you're not in the lab?

I like to spend my free time in nature. I am most interested in the flora of oligotrophic peatlands, especially sedges. However, I currently spend most of my free time with my wife and our four-month-old daughter.

What would you be if you were not involved in science?

I'd probably be a gardener. I love to see the fruits of my work in the garden.

Why do you like Brno?

Although I am a native Slovak, my roots are in South Moravia. Maybe that's why I quickly settled in Brno. Brno is a wonderful city full of friendly people and surrounded by beautiful nature. You will find everything you need for a happy life here.

Which place in Brno do you like the most and why? 

My favourite place is Prýgl (Brno Dam). You can find everything you need there. Recreational and sports activities, beautiful nature and good beer.