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Neuron Award 2022 for Mariya Shamzhy

Mariya Shamzhy from the Department of Physical and Macromolecular Chemistry (CUCAM Research Centre) is tackling one of the long-standing key challenges for materials scientists - understanding how heterogeneous catalysts facilitate chemical reactions, at the atomic level. In particular, it is focused on the synthesis of new types of zeolites, their characterization and the explanation of their catalytic properties. The results so far promise new concepts for inorganic chemistry or chemical engineering. Mariya Shamzhy graduated from Lomonosov University and received her PhD degree from the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

NEURON 2022 AWARD FOR FUTURE SCIENTISTS IN CHEMISTRY: For research on porous materials




Mgr. Mariya Shamzhy, Ph.D. worked for several years as a post-doc at the Institute of Physical and Macromolecular Chemistry together with Prof. Jiří Čejka and moved with him to the Department of Physical and Macromolecular Chemistry of our faculty several years ago. In her research she is mainly devoted to the synthesis of new types of zeolites, their physicochemical characterization and understanding of the relationships between the structure and chemical properties of zeolites on the one hand and their activity and selectivity in selected reactions on the other hand.  In addition to her scientific work, Mariya Shamzhy has been heavily involved in teaching activities at the Faculty of Science. Mariya Shamzhy has also made a significant contribution in the field of grants. She is working on the CUCAM (Charles University Centre of Advanced Materials) research project, she is solving her own GACR project, before that Mariya Shamzhy was a successful solver of a junior GACR project. In 2021 she was awarded an ERC-CZ grant, which is awarded by the Ministry of Education to scientists whose projects have received an excellent rating in the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) grant competition, but were not supported due to lack of funding. She was awarded the Dean's Prize of the Faculty of Science of Charles University for young scientific and pedagogical staff up to 35 years of age (2020) and is a laureate of the award of The Learned Society of the Czech Republic in the category of "young scientist" (2021). 

Have you ever felt a "heureka" moment? 

I am very happy as a scientist, because I experience this type of moment quite often when I manage to find a fundamental explanation for unexpected experimental results or propose a clear solution to a debated problem. A few years ago we figured out how to fundamentally simplify and better control the complex process of synthesizing catalytic materials, and more recently I have managed to find a way to make this method available for practical use. Moments like this linger long in the memory and inspire when things go wrong.


Do you remember any questions that were on your mind as a child that kept you awake? 

Thirty years ago, I was puzzling over a riddle: "What number only increases and never decreases?". Now I know for sure that this is the "age of man".


What led you to science and what keeps you doing it? What is the main purpose you see in what you do? 

At the beginning of my scientific journey, I loved chemistry as a phenomenon, as a multifaceted and not fully known world of change. Now that I better understand its possibilities, it seems very important to me to really use the full potential of science to improve the daily lives of humanity, especially in terms of limited natural resources and the impact of human activity on the environment. 


Have you had a slump? Some so-called fuck-up that eventually kicked you into gear, moved you on or helped you to shift gears, which then proved to be important for your future direction?

At the beginning of my research career in Ukraine, I had to overcome a lack of funding and appropriate research facilities. The desire to continue in science while being able to provide for my family made me look for a place where I could realize all the things I value in life. The Czech Republic became an ideal place for me, where I found not only excellent conditions for my research, but also an excellent post-doctoral supervisor who tirelessly nurtured and mentored me and other young researchers, always trying to convince us that we could do more. I think that is why Professor Jiří Čejka's students, among whom I count myself, are so highly ranked in the field of chemistry and have won many prestigious awards. Being a member of the dream-team led by Professor Čejka was an important milestone in my research life, which certainly determined my future direction and unexpectedly led me to the prestigious Neuron Prize.


What five words or phrases describe you? And add one superpower you wish you had. 

1. Enthusiasm for solving puzzles

2. Persistence in achieving a goal

3. Honesty 

4. Openness to the new

5. Desire to do something more 

I'd like to be able to go back in time and make better decisions.


If you were writing a science fiction novel set in 2099 with themes from your industry, what would already be possible in it? 

In the future, there could be handheld microscopes with atomic resolution to solve the structures of new materials, or multifunctional "synthesizers" with cold fusion as a necessary power source for Windows 2099.

The Neuron Prize for Promising Scientists has six new laureates. They received it from the hands of the scientific sponsors and patrons of NF Neuron during the gala evening:


Martina Živná (medicine) for finding the cause of hereditary kidney disease

Gabriel Demo (Biology) for his research on transcription and translation communication

Anežka Kuzmičová (Social Sciences) for her research on literacy

Martin Setvín (Physics) for research on non-conductive materials̊

Mariya Shamzhy (Chemistry) for research on porous materials̊

Jan Kynčl (Mathematics) for breakthroughs in combinatorics









Published: Oct 16, 2022 07:05 PM

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