Speakers

We will present the list of speakers with a short bio in alphabetical order to give you an overview about their individual field of scientific expertise.

Last update: March 01


Bruhn, Thomas
is a physicist (PhD) working transdisciplinarily at the IASS Potsdam since 2012. His key ambition is to contribute to a changing awareness for sustainable human relations within the Earth System in the Anthropocene.
In the first years at the IASS his research focused on technological topics like climate engineering and the environmental impacts of technologies for utilizing CO2 as a resource (carbon capture and utilization). Since 2016 he is leading the research group AMA (A Mindset for the Anthropocene) on the question how the transformation of mental paradigms and specific qualities like mindfulness and compassion can be integrated into processes for sustainability. Since 2017, he is also working in the team Co-Creation & Contemporary Policy Advice that aims at investigating and designing co-creative processes in the realm of political decision making for coping with wicked problems in the context of sustainability.

Before joining the IASS he did research on semiconductor nanomaterials in Berlin, Rome and Marseille. Beside his research work he is also a trained facilitator and is active in several NGOs, i.e. as a member of the executive board of the German Chapter to the Club of Rome or the German Association of Scientists (VDW).

Photo Credits: Lotte Ostermann/IASS
Fader, Marianela
is the deputy director of the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change, located at the German Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz, Germany. Her scientific background is in physical geography, more specifically, in modelling of climate change impacts on water and food security. She leads studies in the area of the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus, climate change impacts on water resources and food security, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Geographically, Dr. Fader is specialized in water-related topics of the Mediterranean region, and at global scale. She also leads various international researcher groups, teaches special classes at summer schools and universities, and supervises master theses in cooperation with various universities. More information under https://www.waterandchange.org/en/m-fader/
Gerten, Dieter
Dieter Gerten is a trained geographer (diploma 1997) and freshwater ecologist (PhD 2001). Presently he holds a position as Coordinator for Earth Modelling and Head of the Working Group “Terrestrial Safe Operating Space” at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and is at the same time Professor for Global Change Climatology & Hydrology at the Geography Department of the Humboldt University of Berlin. He has long-standing experience in water, biosphere and climate change research with a current focus on planetary boundaries. His publications – including more than 120 peer-reviewed papers as well as several books – span a range of topics such as climate change impacts on freshwater resources, water–vegetation interactions, water and climate change in religions, as well as food and bioenergy production within planetary boundaries.
Gornott, Christoph
Prof. Dr. Christoph Gornott is an agricultural scientist, leader of the working group Adaptation in Agricultural Systems at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and chair of the department Agroecosystem Analysis and Modelling at the University of Kassel. He conducts interdisciplinary research aiming to improve food security and resilience in tropical agricultural systems and investigates climate impacts on agriculture and strategies of how the agricultural sector can respond to changing climatic conditions. His research evolves around the three pillars of risk monitoring, management and transfer with a particular focus on crop yield forecasting, climate adaptation strategies and insurance solutions for sub-Saharan Africa. He has attracted and is leading more than 20 research projects and works closely with a diverse set of institutions active in international development cooperation and other relevant stakeholders.
Lenz, Josefine
is a polar scientist (PhD in Geology) with a background in permafrost research and the study of lakes. Multiple summer and winter expeditions to Arctic Alaska and Canada have shown her the beauty and vulnerability of these remote regions. Recently, Josefine had the great pleasure to lead the MOSAiC School, a 6-week “summer” training program on a Russian icebreaking vessel in the Central Arctic sea ice supporting the MOSAiC Expedition. Fostering the next generation of polar scientists and communicating the importance of polar research to a wider audience has been a key element on Josefine’s professional path.
Currently, Josefine is the Executive Director of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and leads the outreach project “Permafrost Change” at AWI Potsdam.

Photo Credits: Kerstin Rolfes
Lobanova, Anastasia
Anastasia is a scientist at Hydroclimatic Risks Group, working on issues of water availability under climate change, capacity building and stakeholder engagement. She holds a diploma in Water Systems Engineering from Russia, a Master of Hydroinformatics from Germany/UK and a PhD from TU Berlin. She worked on climate impact assessments in different parts of the world - Europe, Asia, Africa and has developed capacity building programs in the fields of hydrological and climate change modelling for different stakeholder groups. Currently, she is leading the Green Central Asia Project @ PIK, which is a part of the Green Central Asia Initiative of the Foreign Office of Germany. Within this project her team aims to bring together climate science and capacity building to ensure a safer future in Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Neumann, Barbara
is a senior research associate at the Ocean Governance Research Group of the IASS. Her area of expertise is in the field of human-environment interactions, sustainable development and governance of coastal and marine areas. She holds a PhD in geography from Saarland University, and was postdoctoral researcher at Kiel University and with the Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean" in Kiel, Germany, before joining the IASS in 2017. There she undertook research on sea-level rise impacts, sustainability and governance of coastal areas and gained substantive experience in interdisciplinary research and teaching. Her interest in the climate change and ocean nexus has recently gained traction through a H2020 research project on ocean-based net emission technologies, OceanNETs, where she is involved as principal investigator on ocean-governance. In her current work she further addresses specific issues relating to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, the “ocean goal”, such as how to enhance collaborative processes at the science-policy-society interface.

Photo Credits: Lotte Ostermann/IASS
Niestroy, Ingeborg
is a geographer, worked as planner for transport projects, and has ever since been interested in governance questions of environmental integration and sustainable development. In her Ph.D. thesis she described decision-making processes with Strategic Environmental Assessment with a special focus ofplanning processes for waterways (river Elbe) and dredged material disposal (San Francisco Bay).
She has some 20 years of experience in the science-policy-society interface of the sustainable development arena, both as apractitioner and researcher. sShe worked at EU level, in European and international cooperations as well asinter alia as director of EEAC, the European network of advisory councils for environmental policy and sustainable development, in the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), in the civil society alliance SDG Watch Europe and the European Commission's multi-stakeholder platform on Agenda 2030. She has (co-)authored, lead and collaborated in a number of studies on governance for sustainable development, including a comparative study of nine EU member states one for the European Parliament on SDG implementation in all EU member states (2019), and for the members of the Central European Initiative (CEI) - a set of EU, Western Balkan and EaP countries (2020).

Since 2019 she has been with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany, first as senior fellow and now as scientific staff member both in the transdisciplinary team, and in the secretariat of the German ‘Science Platform Sustainability 2030’. Her key research interests are geography of governance for sustainable development, improving the multi-sector,- level and –actor links and cooperations in different contexts.
Rachold, Volker
Volker Rachold is the Head of the German Arctic Office at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), which serves as an information and cooperation platform between German stakeholders from science, politics and industry. Before moving to the German Arctic Office in 2017, he served as the Executive Secretary of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) in Stockholm and Potsdam since 2006.
Dr. Rachold graduated as a geochemist from Göttingen University, where he also obtained his Ph.D. in 1994. Since then he worked with the AWI. His research focused on land-ocean interactions in the Siberian Arctic and he led several land- and ship-based Russian-German expeditions.
Reese, Ronja
Ronja Reese is a trained mathematician (master in 2013) and climate physicist (PhD in 2018). Currently, she is a postdoc at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in the working group on Ice Dynamics and in the Future Lab on Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene. She investigates ice dynamics in Antarctic and Greenland with a focus on sea-level projections, interactions between the ice sheet and the surrounding ocean, ice-shelf buttressing and ice sheet (in)stabilities.
Reinecke, Robert
is a postdoctoral researcher in the working group Hydrologic Systems of Prof Thorsten Wagener at the University Potsdam. He is an early career scientist with expertise in global groundwater resources, large scale hydrologic modelling, global climate impact assessments, sensitivity analysis, and content distribution systems. His research made fundamental contributions to the development of global groundwater models and the development of flexible content distribution networks in the field of computer science. He is the founder and former CEO of two successful enterprises.
Dr Robert Reinecke holds a PhD in geosciences from Goethe University Frankfurt and a bachelor and master degree in computer science from TU Darmstadt. He joined the University Potsdam in 2021 as PostDoc after working as deputy director and lead scientist at the International Centre of Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC), a UNESCO Category 2 centre. Before that, he worked at the Goethe University Frankfurt and TU Darmstadt as a scientific researcher.
Rockström, Johan
Johan Rockström is Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor in Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam. He is an internationally recognized scientist on global sustainability issues and led the development of the Planetary Boundaries framework for human development in the current era of rapid global change.

Professor Rockström is a leading scientist on global water resources, with more than 25 years experience in applied water research in tropical regions, and more than 150 research publications in fields ranging from applied land and water management to global sustainability. He is i.a. member of the European Commission expert group: Mission Board for Adaptation to Climate Change including Societal Transformation, Chair of the Earth Commission and is elected member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Photo Credits: M. Axelsson/Azote
Schmidt, Falk
has been the head of Secretariat of the German Science Platform Sustainability 2030 since 2017. In the previous years, he has worked on transdisciplinarity and he served as academic officer of IASS Executive Director Klaus Töpfer. Falk studied philosophy, business and law at the Freie Universität Berlin and holds a PhD in political science.
Thieken, Annegret
Since October 2011, Annegret H. Thieken has been Professor of Geography and Disaster Risk Research at the University of Potsdam. With a background in Environmental Sciences she has researched on water-related risks over the past 25 years at Germany’s Climate Service Center, the University of Innsbruck (Austria), the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) and the University of Halle. Her research has dealt with a broad range of topics in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, e.g. e.g. probabilistic flood risk modelling, analysis and modelling of losses, multi-risk studies as well as evaluation of mitigation measures including property-level mitigation and flood insurance. Up to now, she has (co-)authored more than 100 internationally reviewed papers (https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7068-2615) and many other contributions in proceedings and books. In December 2015, she was elected president of the German Committee for Disaster Risk Reduction (DKKV) and was responsible for DKKV’s strategy until December 2019.
Unger, Sebastian
leads work on Ocean Governance at the IASS. He has a background in biology and political science and 15 years of experience in international ocean policy. His research focuses on global governance processes for ocean sustainability, including the development of a new international agreement for marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the governance of deep seabed mining. He joined the IASS in 2011 as a scientific coordinator for IASS Founding Director Professor Klaus Töpfer. He was appointed Deputy Secretary to the OSPAR Commission, the international convention for the Protection of the North‐East Atlantic, in 2007. In that role he was instrumental in developing the world's first network of marine protected areas on the 'high seas' and participated in negotiations on new international legislation in the fields of marine biodiversity, impacts of human activities, and the offshore oil and gas industry. He also served at the German Federal Foreign Office, where he coordinated international maritime affairs.

https://www.iass-potsdam.de/en/research-group/ocean-governance

Wagener, Thorsten
is the Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Hydrologic Systems at the University of Potsdam. He is an internationally recognized hydrologist who has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal papers and several books on the development, evaluation and use of hydrologic models. Over the last 20 years, he has made fundamental contributions to hydrologic predictions in gauged and ungauged basins, he has developed new algorithms and software packages for model evaluation and for uncertainty attribution using sensitivity analysis, and he has developed a novel process-based hydro-epidemiological model to better understand the spreading of infectious diseases under climate change. Prof Wagener holds a PhD from Imperial College London and studied at TU Delft and the University of Siegen. He joined the University of Potsdam in 2021 after working at the University of Bristol, the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Arizona.

Zens, Josef
is head of press and public relations at the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam. From the end of 2011 until March 2016, he led the Communications Department at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC). Prior to that, he was press spokesperson for the Leibniz Association (2008 to 2011).

He has worked in journalism and science communication for more than thirty years. He is a trained daily newspaper editor and worked for five years as member of the science section at the daily paper Berliner Zeitung (1998 to 2002). He studied geography, meteorology and economics at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Minnesota, graduating with a diploma. From 2003 to 2008 he was responsible for the press relations of the Forschungsverbund Berlin. Since 2000, he has regularly taught courses at universities (print journalism or science communication and science journalism). He has held teaching positions at the University of Applied Sciences in Mittweida, at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, at the Humboldt University in Berlin, at the Technical University in Berlin and at the KIT in Karlsruhe. In 2010, science journalists elected him science press spokesman of the year. He is currently chairman of the Helmholtz Association's Press Working Group. He is a member of the think tank “Siggener Kreis”, he coordinates a competence team “science communication” within the Berlin journalists’ union and he is an alumnus of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation.