Experiments are fundamental to science and fun: Interview with a student Tomáš Janoš

Tomáš studies Environment and Health. He's originally from Ostrava. In the interview, he explains why he decided to become a scientist and what led him to choose RECETOX and Brno. As an avid runner, he established a running club with colleagues at RECETOX - studying at RECETOX is not only about books and science but also about people and shared experiences.

16 Feb 2022 Marie Hošťálková

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Why study Environment and Health?

I really enjoyed studying chemistry and biology in high school, and I care about the environment. The Environment and Health program combines all of those and addresses current, everyday life issues. Chemicals help us in many ways, but they can also be harmful to our health, and that’s why it is necessary to study them. This study program is very complex - everything is related to everything, which makes it so interesting.

What makes this field unique?

This field doesn’t just combine chemistry and biology but also deals with human health. Chemicals are all around us, in our food, in the air we breathe, and even in the water, we drink. It's good to understand what's going on around us - and you don't get that in other study programmes. Plus, it’s a practical field, which is a significant advantage.

Why do you enjoy it?

Since the first year, we've been doing 'real' science, discussing current environmental issues, looking for connections, and naming them. In addition, RECETOX is involved in chemicals policymaking on national and European levels. Scientific findings on chemicals and their effects on human health are included in legislative negotiations. We help improve people's quality of life, both in the Czech Republic and worldwide. I am glad that I can participate in this already as a student.

What about teachers and classmates?

At the beginning of our studies at RECETOX, we had activities (terénní cvičení) to get to know the teachers, RECETOX as a research facility, and the Environment and Health programme itself. At RECETOX, we all know each other by name, and students are not only a UČO (= university number of a person). Communication between students and teachers is open and friendly. I can say from my own experience that there are no wrong questions - maybe only the unasked ones.

And in general, the people at RECETOX are friendly. We even started a running club. It doesn't matter if you're a teacher, a student, or an administrative worker - everyone can join us and is always welcome.

What kind of jobs can you do after graduation?

Both practical (lab) and office jobs, depending on preference. There are many options , for example, in the industrial sector, companies need environmental specialists to deal with the chemical waste produced and dispose of it effectively without impacting the environment. And it is also possible to get a job in government as an expert in legislation related to chemistry and the impact on human health. I think there are plenty of opportunities.

How difficult are the studies? Will I handle it?

The course of study is very comprehensive and science-oriented - it includes chemistry, biology, and basic statistics. In addition to the core science subjects and practical laboratory exercises, we have courses focused on "soft skills," where we learn how to present, scientific thinking, and work with literature. All this knowledge is helpful in everyday life. Some of the subjects are taught in English, and my English has improved a lot. I don't think the study programme is easy, but you can do it! I guess it's everywhere the same, every student must study, and if the motivation is there, it's easier.

What about student involvement in research?

There are practical exercises to complement the theoretical subjects from the first semester of bachelor's study. If you want to, you can also get involved in further scientific research right away - there are plenty of possibilities. The Environment and Health program is not only about lectures and theory - experiments are also the basis of science!

What has been the best subject so far?

I enjoyed General Toxicology and Epidemiology. Overall, the subjects that provided a broader context of environmental or human health were the best. I was a bit scared of the chemistry courses at first, but the hands-on lab exercises and easy-to-understand lectures made that "fear" unnecessary, and in the end, it was fine.

Tom, thank you for sharing your study experience...

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