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Zažímalová elected chairwoman of Czech Academy of Sciences

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Prague, Dec 15 (CTK) – Eva Zazimalova, 61, professor of anatomy and physiology of plants at Charles University, was elected chairwoman of the Czech Academy of Science (AV), the country’s largest scientific institution, as from March 2017 by the Academy Assembly on Thursday.

Her election requires the government’s consent. Afterwards, she will be appointed by President Milos Zeman.

Zazimalova, who has worked in the Experimental Botany Institute since 1983 and headed the institute in 2007-2012, was nominated for the post by 40 out of the AV’s 54 scientific institutes.

She will head the AV until 2021 as the second female head in its history.

Outgoing AV chairman Jiri Drahos said Zazimalova is a quality professional respected by the broad academic community.

Zazimalova’s nomination has been welcomed by Deputy PM for Research Pavel Belobradek and Education Minister Katerina Valachova.

Zazimalova said she wants to improve the financing of the AV, enhance top-level research and tackle the internal debts some academic institutes have due to the stagnating budget.

In a speech at the Academy Assembly on Thursday, Drahos said the state’s stagnating spending on research jeopardises its quality.

The spending on research institutes makes up 50 percent of the total spending on research, which is not enough. Foreign examples indicate that the optimal share is 70 percent, Drahos said.

Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said support for science and research is a government priority, which, unfortunately, is not shared by all three partners in the coalition government that also includes the Social Democrats, CSSD) and ANO.

He said it was uneasy to push through a 3.75-billion crown increase in the research spending for 2017, but still the increase should have been even higher.

Drahos appreciated it that the government has raised the AV’s budget by 300 million crowns next year, and outlined its further rise to 600 million in 2019.

The AV’s budget is thus slowly approximating to the situation in 2009, before its sharp reduction by the then government.

According to the Czech Statistical Office (CSU), the spending on Czech research and development has risen by 3.6 billion crowns to 88.7 billion in 2015. However, over a half of the sum was invested by business companies, while one third was provided by the state budget and the rest by the EU.

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