Senior Environmental Scientist, University of Bonn, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, 2015 – Present (8 years)

I joined the Department of Plant Nutrition in the Tropics and Subtropics at Bonn University in 2015 to coordinate research work in two collaborative research projects “Wetlands in East-Africa” (2013-2017) and “Future Rural Africa” (2019-2021) while maintaining my responsibility as a PI in a collaborative research on patterns in soil-vegetation-atmosphere systems (2010-2018 further described below).

My major task in the two Africa projects was to integrate research of 12 groups for environmental policy advice. Topics ranged between socio-anthropology and hydrology. Extensive exchanges with policy-analyst from East-African governments motivated me to study policy-process theory.

It is often believed that deterministic modeling can be applied in environmental policy-making. Political decision-making requires, however, that issues are framed socio-politically which is a highly dynamic process with many uncertainties. Together with leading wetland policy-makers in East-African governments I developed and published a new wetland policy process concept and a new method of cognitive-driven information design to overcome challenges associated with streamlining technical and socio-political framing of environmental issues.

Frequent interaction with East-African farmers since 2006 made me aware of the many challenges they are facing with modernity and global change. Having studied the cognitive basis of modeling and decision-making in different contexts I became interested in studying farmer-land relations from an ecopsychological point of view. I recently developed a framework for analyzing farmers’ future imagination. A corresponding paper is currently in revision.

I was also a PI in a collaborative research project on prediction and modeling hybrid performance and yield gain in oilseed rape by systems biology (2014-2020). I wrote a related synthesis paper on integrated plant physiology together with internationally known plant-physiologists.

Senior Environmental Scientist, University of Bonn, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, 2010 – 2014 (4 years)

I worked as an environmental physicist and agroecologist in the Crop Science Group during my first four years at Bonn University. My main role as a PI was to help coordinating the creation of linkages between soil and atmospheric research through vegetation science in a collaborative research Patterns in Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Systems. Practical contributions included developments of vegetation chamber and plant sap-flow methods for model validation. I also contributed to the development of the terrestrial systems modeling platform TerrSysMP focussing on improving its Community Land Model component (CLM) in collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the USA (2010-2018).

I was also a PI in a collaborative project on small wetlands in East-Africa, conceptualizing research, coordinating field work and integrating research results (2007-2013). Extensive reconnaissance trips to Kenya and Tanzania, PhD supervision and collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya and University of Dar es Salaam motivated me to extend my interests from environmental science to human studies. These experiences served as a foundation for my later engagement in environmental policy studies in East-Africa.

Senior Environmental Scientist. Wageningen Plant Research. Netherlands. 2009 – 2010 (1 year)

Agroecological scenario modeling. Expert advice private industry.

Juniorprofessor. Humboldt-University of Berlin 2003 – 2009 (6 years)

A juniorprofessorship is a tenure-tracked teaching and research position for young scientists with outstanding PhD qualifications. I was selected for a juniorprofessorship “Modeling Plant Systems”.

Teaching included the development of master modules “Modeling Plant Systems” (Theoretical and practical development of a basic plant growth model in Java) and “Quantitative Basis of Modeling” (Calculus, Numerical solution of Ordinary Differential Equations). The courses included an introduction to the cognitive basis of our number sense. Students were highly satisfied with my teaching, because I presented mathematical principles in the context of their practical experiences in agriculture and plant biology. I also supervised three PhD students during this time.

Research focused on three projects:

(1) Contributing crop modeling expertise to a collaborative research project on precision agriculture consisting of 26 partners across Germany (preagro). Testing information and sensor technology for improving efficiency of crop management.

(2) PI in a collaborative research project “Agricultural potential and vulnerability of major wetland types in East Africa (SWEA)”. Project coordination. Agroecological field research. Agrometeorology. Crop Modeling.

(3) Guest researcher at the School of Plant Science of the University of Western-Australia. Cooperation with Prof. Hans Lambers in a collaborative research center on soil salinity: Development, testing and publication of a Eucalyptus transpiration model. Getting practical insights into the concept of Nature-Based Solutions (i.e. design of agricultural systems based on nature’s principles).

Other responsibilities: Head of agroecological colloquia. Participation in faculty administration. Public relations. Tenure evaluation: Lifetime professor title earned after positive evaluation (2005). Professorship not granted by the President of Humboldt-University due to financial restrictions and plans to close its Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture (closed in 2014).

Associate Professor. Leibniz University of Hannover 2001 – 2002 (1 year)

Student exercises “Systems Analysis”. Writing grant applications.

Postdoctoral Researcher. Christian Albrecht University Kiel. 1998 – 2000 (3 years)

Crop modeler responsible for integrating research results of a collaborative research center “Optimizing Plant Production Systems with Respect to Performance and Ecological Effects”. Synthesizing data from participating research groups, model calibration, validation and scenario analyses.

Volunteer. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. 1984 – 1985 (1 year)

Prof. Michael Evenari (1904-1989) chaired the Botany Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and operated a reconstructed ancient runoff farm near Avdat in the Negev desert since the 1960s. It was an internationally known research station primarily focusing on studying plant adaptation to desert conditions. A range of desert ecological and hydrological studies were conducted in the vicinity of the farm. Prof. Evenari accepted me as a volunteer in 1984 for assisting him in agroecological field and orchard experiments. I assisted in all experiments and was particularly involved in a collaborative research on flux control in biological systems conducted in cooperation with the University of Bayreuth. I got acquainted with the operation of experimental methods for measuring plant-water relations (gas-exchange equipment, pressure bomb, soil-water equipment etc.) and also managed field work when PIs were absent. Experiences collected at the intersection of plant ecology, agronomy, hydrology and archeology sparked my interest in interdisciplinary environmental science. Prof. Evenari was a humanist with a wide range of interests and winner of the Balzan prize in 1988. Having lived with him on the farm is a source of inspiration until today.

Volunteer. 1981 – 1984 (3 years)

Working and living in three Kibbutzim and a Moshav in Israel: Irrigation, tractor driving, orchard work, cow milking, horticulture, turkey and chicken rearing. Toranut (i.e. obligatory community services such as dish-washing, kitchen work, dining-hall services, laundry, night-milking shifts and seasonal harvest work). I also worked on two German farms in Soest for a few months to get initial practical experience in mixed farming. These practical experiences motivated me to start a farming apprenticeship (see education section).


1997 Doctor of Philosophy – Cultural Engineering and Water Management. University of Kassel, Germany. Grade: With distinction

I designed and managed a tri-lateral project with partners in Israel and Brazil on the application of the Penman-Monteith method under different climate conditions which formed the basis of my PhD thesis. The concept was based on experiences collected during my first university education in agronomy (see below). We determined parameters of the Penman-Monteith equation in field experiments and validated the resulting model with the thermoelectric method for measuring sap-flow in plants. Parameterization and validation were carried under site-specific conditions under tropical (Brazil), temperate (Germany) and semi-arid (Israel) climate conditions. The model was subsequently introduced to the agrometeorological network of the South-Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

1995 Diplom Ecological Environmental Protection (Focus: Limnology), University of Kassel, Germany

Three year university education in ecological environmental protection. Thesis: “Light extinction and microclimate at stream sites: Experimental studies at the Wilhelmshäuser stream system” (located in North Hesse / Germany). I took microclimate measurements in the stream vegetation foliage along a forest stream. The main aim was to characterize seasonal changes in light intensity and spectral distribution on the stream surface. Applying theoretical approaches of fluid optics, I constructed a model which quantified the light environment on the stream floor which influences habitats and movements of stream organisms. Quantification included experimental verification of a radiation model with a submergible light sensor.

1992 Diplom International Agriculture (Focus: Agronomy), University of Kassel, Germany

Four year university education in international agriculture. Thesis: “The determination of actual transpiration with the Penman-Monteith combination method: An experimental verification study on cotton”. Practical studies were carried out at the Volcani Institute of the Israel Ministry of Agriculture. Its Department of Environmental Physics conducted agrometeorological and plant ecological measurements in a cotton field of Kibbutz Naan (a known irrigation equipment manufacturer) which was exposed to repetitive drying cycles and different arrangements of drip irrigation equipment. My core knowledge of environmental physics originates in these studies which I systematically extend since then.

1987 Farmer Journeyman. Certificate of dual-education apprenticeship, Chamber of Agriculture Westphalia-Lippe, Germany

Two year dual-education. 1st year: Teaching, demonstration and experimental farm of the North Rhine-Westphalian Agricultural Extension Service at Haus Düsse located in the Soester Börde: Entire range of common cattle and pig rearing forms, feeding methods, milking systems, field cultivation methods, crop and animal breeding trials, slaughter and egg laying performance tests. 2nd year: Farm worker on a mixed-farm on the Haar hills near Lake Möhne.

Foreign Experience

Australia, Brazil, France, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Netherlands, Palestine, Rwanda, Russia, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda

Teaching Experience

Introduction to Crop Modelling, Modelling Plant Systems, Quantitative Basis of Modelling, Applied Mathematics, Agricultural Meteorology, Irrigation Science, Crop Science, Software Engineering, Systems Analysis, Physics for Agriculturists