Addressing the closing session of the 35th conference of the Agricultural Science Section of the Hungarian Student Research Societies on 31 March, Professor Emeritus dr. Béla Pénzes, the vice president of the National Council of Student Research Societies and president of the Professional Agricultural Science Committee and Associate Professor Dr. Bence Rácz, the Section’s executive chairman evaluated the work of the two-day conference. 241 presentations were held in the Section’s 27 branches. The professional jury granted 80 places and 40 special awards. As part of the event, Rector of the University of Veterinary Medicine Prof Dr. Péter Sótonyi passed the baton of the Section to Prof. Dr. Csaba Gyuricza, the Rector of the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (MATE). The MATE’s Kaposvár Campus will host the Agricultural Science Section in Y2023.
In his opening speech, Dr. Béla Pénzes noted that he participated in the preparation and implementation of the 10th conference as the head of the professional committee. He thanked Prof. Dr. Sótonyi Péter, the Rector of the 234-year-old University of Veterinary Medicine and member of the professional committee for hosting the Section in his institution and enabling students, including 19 participants from the neighbouring countries, to present their theses in excellent conditions.
He talked about his memories how he was looking forward to the announcement of the results as a graduating student of horticultural engineering in Debrecen back in 1973. Nearly 50 years later, he still feels the conference was a formative experience for him. Although IT tools were not nearly as efficient as today, the student society nonetheless was characterized by the cooperation of mentors and students, just like today. If you get involved in the work of a student society, you were driven by the desire to get an insight into the unknown and you had to work extremely hard, just as you do now. This activity is a series of alternating successes and failures, since that is the essence of any research work, he added. Explaining what he had been told by Professor Dr. Zoltán Sütő, the vice chairman of the professional committee, he said that the list of the 1977 society featured such names as Dr. László V. Frenyó, the later Rector of the University of Veterinary Medicine or businessman László Bárány, whose company group provided 32 per cent of all chicken meat production in Hungary. Professor Sütő also gave him a photo showing the members and chairman of the then Animal Husbandry Committee, including Hungarian Academy of Sciences member Dr. Péter Horn who was a member of this year’s professional jury, too.
The world has changed a lot in the past fifty years, including agriculture and education in general, and the performance of student research societies has become a key indicator of quality education. You are a good teacher if your disciples far outperform you later on. Anyone can have students, but you must earn disciples, Dr. Béla Pénzes asserted.
The chairman of the professional committee thanked the Hungarian University of Public Service for the IT support, without which the Section could not have been efficiently organized. As far as the associates of the University of Veterinary Medicine were concerned, he extended his special thanks to executive chairman Dr Bence Rácz for his relentless efforts as well as secretary general dr. Márton Battay, communication associates Dóra Herczeg, Alexandra Bulejka and Viktória Vaprezsán and educational technician Anna Papp for their generous, patient and attentive assistance.
Dr. Bence Rácz said that 241 presentations were held in 2 days. Several participants commented that the students were actually better presenters than the university lecturers, which made the thesis supervisors very proud.
Reflecting on what Rector Prof. Dr. Péter Sótonyi said in the opening ceremony, the associate professor drew a parallel between today’s pandemic and the fact that veterinary training was launched in Europe as a response to an epidemic. Young scientists have an enormous responsibility to properly represent science in this situation. In addition to publishing articles in professional journals with a high citation index, they must also prevent our society from being misled by unscientific opinions.
In his evaluation, Council of Student Research Societies chairman Dr. Péter Szendrő said they made a good decision last year to organize conferences online. He emphasized that branch winners had until mid-May to submit their applications for the Pro Scientia Gold Medal, while institutions could nominate their teachers excelling in talent management for the Master Teacher Gold Medal. After the section meetings of the conference, the branch winners will be invited to the relevant Section Gala events of the Hungarian Student Research Societies. The 35th Session of the Hungarian Student Research Societies will be closed in the ceremonial hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Until then however, 15 more Section meetings will have been held.
As part of the closing ceremony, Rector of the University of Veterinary Medicine Prof Dr. Péter Sótonyi passed the baton of the Section to Prof. Dr. Csaba Gyuricza, the Rector of the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (MATE). The MATE’s Kaposvár Campus will host Agricultural Science Section in Y2023.
After taking over the baton, the Rector of MATE said that student research societies were internationally recognized grounds of talent management, and the movement had been present in Hungary’s higher education for seven decades. Beside the countless achievements, it has enriched the world of Hungarian science with many-many personal experiences and stories.
He mentioned that as a student he was fortunate enough to submit his papers to the research societies twice. Later on, he worked as a thesis supervisor, faculty society secretary and chairman as well. He is very proud to have gained the highest recognition of the society, i.e., the Pro Scientia Gold Medal, which was presented to him by the president of the Academy and Chairman Dr. Péter Szendrő in 1995. And now, as the Rector of his Alma Mater, he has the honour to take over the baton of the Agricultural Science Section of the Hungarian Student Research Societies.
Finally, he made a promise in the name of all MATE staff members to do their best in order to carry the Student Societies’ torch that has been on fire for 70 years.