CV

Curriculum Vitae

Experience

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

From 2015, I continued coordinating research in two collaborative research centres: ‘Wetlands in East-Africa’ (2013-2017) and ‘Future Rural Africa’ (2019-2021) at the Department of Plant Nutrition in the Tropics and Subtropics at Bonn University. I also maintained my responsibility as a PI in a collaborative centre ‘Patterns in soil-vegetation-atmosphere systems’ of the universities of Bonn, Cologne, Aachen and Jülich Research Center (2010-2018 further described below).

These projects have ended. I am currently seeking new employment.

In the two Africa projects, my main responsibility was to integrate the work of 12 research groups to provide environmental policy advice. The topics covered a wide range, from socio-anthropology to hydrology. Through extensive exchanges with policy analysts from East-African governments, I was motivated to study policy-process theory. Although it is commonly believed that environmental policy-making should be based solely on facts and evidence, it is important to also consider the associated socio-political dynamics. They are highly relevant and fraught with many uncertainties. To address the challenges associated with harmonising the technical and socio-political framing of environmental issues, I collaborated with leading wetland policy-makers in East African governments to develop a new environmental policy process theory.

Regular interactions with farmers have made me aware of the numerous challenges they face with modernity and global change. As a result, I became interested in studying farmer-land relations and have recently developed a framework for analyzing farmers’ future imagination. I am currently extending the concept from environmental-psychological to socio-ecological interpretation.

From 2014 to 2020, I served as a PI in a collaborative research centre titled ‘Prediction and Modeling Hybrid Performance and Yield Gain in Oilseed Rape by Systems Biology’. Alongside internationally renowned plant physiologists, I co-authored a synthesis paper on integrated plant physiology.

I recently updated my modeling and data science skills by becoming a certified AI developer.

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

During my first four years at Bonn University, I worked as an environmental physicist and agroecologist in its Crop Science Group. As a PI, my main responsibility was to coordinate the creation of linkages between soil and atmospheric research through vegetation science in a collaborative research project called ‘Patterns in Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Systems’ of the universities of Bonn, Cologne, Aachen and Jülich Research Centre (2010-2018). I made practical contributions by developing vegetation chamber and plant sap-flow methods for model validation. I also contributed to the development of the terrestrial systems modeling platform TerrSysMP by improving its Community Land Model component (CLM) in collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the USA (2010-2018).

From 2007 to 2013, I served as a PI in a collaborative project on small wetlands in East Africa. My responsibilities included conceptualizing research, coordinating field work, and integrating research results. During this time, I made extensive reconnaissance trips to Kenya and Tanzania, supervised PhD students, and collaborated with the National Museums of Kenya and the University of Dar es Salaam. These experiences motivated me to expand my interests from environmental science to human studies. These experiences provided the foundation for my later involvement in studying environmental policy in East Africa and developing a theory for understanding farmers’ future imagination.

Senior Environmental Scientist. Wageningen Plant Research. Netherlands. 2009 – 2010

Agroecological scenario modeling. Expert advice for private industry.

Juniorprofessor. Humboldt-University of Berlin 2003 – 2009

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’.

As part of the teaching, I developed two master modules: ‘Modeling Plant Systems’ which involved the theoretical and practical development of a basic plant growth model in the Java programming language, and ‘Quantitative Basis of Modeling’ which covered calculus and numerics of ordinary differential equations. The courses also provided an introduction to the cognitive basis of our number sense. This was due to my approach of presenting mathematical principles in the context of practical experiences in agriculture and plant biology. During my time as a teacher, I received high satisfaction ratings from my students. Additionally, I 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). This involved testing information and sensor technology for improving the efficiency of crop management.

(2) Acting as a coordinator of a collaborative research project “Agricultural potential and vulnerability of major wetland types in East Africa (SWEA)”. 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

Student exercises ‘Systems Analysis’. Writing grant applications.

Postdoctoral Researcher. Christian Albrecht University Kiel. 1998 – 2000

As a crop modeler, it was my responsibility to integrate research results from a collaborative research centre ‘Optimizing plant production systems with respect to performance and ecological effects’. This involved assimilating and synthesizing data from participating research groups, calibrating and validating models, and conducting scenario analyses.

Volunteer. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. 1984 – 1985

Prof. Michael Evenari (1904-1989) was the head of the Botany Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also operated a reconstructed ancient runoff farm near Avdat in the Negev desert since the 1960s. The farm was an internationally renowned research station that primarily focused on studying plant adaptation to desert conditions. A range of desert ecological and hydrological studies were conducted in the vicinity of the farm.

In 1984, I was accepted as a volunteer by Prof. Evenari to assist him in agroecological field and orchard experiments. I participated in all experiments and played an important practical role in a collaborative research project ‘Flux control in biological systems’, which was conducted in cooperation with the University of Bayreuth. I became familiar with experimental methods used to measure plant-water relations, such as gas-exchange equipment, pressure bomb, and soil-water equipment. I also managed field work in the absence of PIs. My experiences at the intersection of plant ecology, agronomy, hydrology, and archaeology sparked my interest in interdisciplinary environmental science. Professor Evenari, a humanist with a wide range of interests and winner of the Balzan prize in 1988, held regular seminars on a very broad range of topics in which I participated. Having lived with him on the farm is a source of inspiration until today. I wrote a small essay to explain why.

Volunteer. 1981 – 1984

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). To gain practical experience in mixed farming, I also worked on two German farms in Soest for a few months. These experiences motivated me to pursue a farming apprenticeship.

Education

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

As part of my PhD thesis, I oversaw a tri-lateral project with partners in Israel, Brazil and Germany to apply the Penman-Monteith energy-balance method under different climate conditions. This concept was developed based on my experiences during my initial university education in agronomy. Through field experiments, we determined the parameters of the Penman-Monteith equation and validated the resulting model using the thermoelectric method for measuring sap-flow in plants. Parameterization and validation were carried out under site-specific conditions in tropical (Brazil), temperate (Germany), and semi-arid (Israel) climates. The model was then introduced to the agrometeorological network of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.

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

I completed a three-year university education in ecological environmental protection. My thesis was titled ‘Light Extinction and Microclimate at Stream Sites: Experimental Studies at the Wilhelmshäuser Stream System’ located in North Hesse, Germany. During the study, I took microclimate measurements in the stream vegetation foliage along a forest stream. The main objective was to characterize seasonal changes in light intensity and spectral distribution on the stream surface. Using theoretical approaches of fluid optics, I constructed a model that quantifies the light environment on the stream floor, which affects the behaviours of stream organisms. The quantification includes descriptive information about microclimate conditions and experimental verification of a radiation model with a submergible light sensor.

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

I also completed a four-year university education in international agriculture. My thesis was titled ‘The determination of actual transpiration with the Penman-Monteith combination method: An experimental verification study on cotton’. It was based on practical and theoretical studies conducted 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 at Kibbutz Naan, a well-known manufacturer of irrigation equipment. The field was subjected to repetitive drying cycles and different arrangements of drip irrigation equipment. My expertise in environmental physics stems from these studies, which I have systematically expanded 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 Authorities, Rwanda, Russia, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda

Teaching Experience

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

Portfolio

Essay about my recent thinking