On 30 November 2022, the winners of the first edition of the RICAIP Young Investigator Award – RYIA 2022 – were officially announced within the opening ceremony of the RICAIP Testbed Brno at CEITEC BUT. The second place goes to Michal Skalský, young researcher at CEITEC BUT – Central European Institute of Technology at the Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic. Meet Michal and find out more about him.
Michal is focusing on research in the field of specialized sensors for measurement of motion and position with special attention to fibre-optical sensors. His experience in the field has been gaining from his bachelor studies when he started to work with fibre-optical component and developed his first fibre-optical interferometer for angular velocity measurement. Nowadays, he has had more than 8 years of research and development experience of interferometric fibre-optical and free-space optical sensors.
Michal designed and realized very precise interferometric free-space optical sensor for dynamic displacement measurement achieving pm accuracy utilizing closed-loop control and specialized modulation techniques to minimize parasitic effects in past years. This system is unique in its parameters and serve as a tool for measurement and analysis of dynamic deflection of specialized piezoelectric samples which can be used for construction of motion sensors and also for very precise micro actuators applicable in industry.
Your personal motivation for a research career, what do you find most challenging/promising/exciting as a young researcher?
Maybe it was that I never liked memorizing when I was at school. Instead, I wished to understand the principles around me and, what more, to search for my own solutions to the problems and questions. And always when something was said to be impossible, I had to try all the ways in order to prove that. So when I was offered to continue with my thesis topic also on PhD studies, I thought, let’s try it!
However, to be able to come up with something really new, you always need to study the state-of-the art. And it may often seem to be tough among the tons of published research and studies to find the gap you could fill. That might be a little bit stressful for any PhD student, but it isn’t reason for getting down. Everyone has a different background and knowledge and can see different applications. And that’s also what I like about it, that I can often grasp the things in my original way.
Where are you headed next?
I usually don’t set big goals. I’m rather trying to do what I like, what I find interesting or what I feel I am good at, and do it as good as I can. Of course, just sitting and waiting for opportunities is not usually the best strategy, so at least some partial objectives are always needed. And there is actually one major goal ahead of me, and that is finishing the PhD.
Who influenced you most in your research?
It’s mostly my colleagues at CEITEC and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication (FEEC) BUT. I could not work without having feedback, whether positive or negative. Sometimes you work hard on something, and you are not sure whether it is really going to be useful in the end. Then I need some others’ points of view. Of course, my colleagues are very kind to me and often give me rather positive feedback. Sometimes I would value if they argued a little bit more with me…
Would you have any piece of good advice for students?
If you doubt whether to try what interests you or not, try it. This worked for me, at least during my studies, internships, and research. I am not much into studying long theories without touching the real stuff. Of course, then I find myself in the situation when I am playing with the effects, let’s say in optical fiber, and I really do not understand why it’s behaving like this. That is the right time for me to get back to the theory and try to understand the things.
Any personal story that you want to share that is relevant to your research career?
When I am thinking about stories, the first thing that comes to my mind are our coffee breaks, the space for sharing all the interesting ideas from all the existing fields, as well as meeting new friends from other groups. For me, the best experiences generally come from internships and conferences, but by telling those stories, I would definitely cover much more space than required here.
Photos: Jan Prokopius (CEITEC BUT)