Currently in my lab


John-Oliver Engler is an ecological economist with focus on decision making under risk and uncertainty as well as sustainability-related statistical data analysis and mathematical modeling. All of Oliver’s research interests come together and may be studied in dryland rangelands, so these are a focal point of his research. He is also interested in transferring concepts, methods and theories from one domain to another. He is part of the project “Bridging the Great Divide” funded by VolkswagenStiftung.

Maraja Riechers is a human ecologist (Dr. in Urban Cultural Ecosystem Services) interested in finding ways to transform a system towards sustainability and biodiversity conservation. She is currently working on nature connectedness in different rural landscapes/ landscape changes in Germany and Romania in the project “Leverage Points for sustainability transformation (”.



Julian Ahlborn is a biogeographer and geobotanist interested in doing science for fun in general and dryland ecology with a focus on vegetation community and functional ecology in particular. He uses mixed modeling, univariate and multivariate statistics and remote sensing. Julian is currently pursuing his research interests by working on the DFG-funded project “Responses of plant performance and functional diversity along a climate and land-use gradient in Mongolia”.

Philip Bernert is interested in the question of how different societies can effectively learn from successful sustainability transitions and, in particular, how generated knowledge can be communicated and made actionable in other sustainable transition contexts. He is using qualitative methods and rough set analysis in his research.

Christian Dorninger is a quantitative social scientist who is convinced that structures vastly determine individual action. He is focusing on taking a biophysical perspective on human-nature interaction and connectedness and their potential for sustainability transformation. Christian is applying material and energy flow accounting (MEFA), human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) and environmentally-extended input-output analysis (EEIOA). He is currently working on the project “Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation” funded by VolkswagenFoundation.

Robert Feller is an environmental scientist who investigates impacts of natural elements in urban spaces on customer’s willingness to pay for certain products. More generally, he is focusing on urban ecology and ecosystem service assessments by combining spatial analysis with online surveys. He is part of the project “Bridging the Great Divide” funded by VolkswagenStiftung.

Ana Filipa Ferreira is a visiting student from Lisbon working on her PhD project on biosphere reserves. She is particularly interested in finding ways to protect biodiversity while promoting sustainable development in social-ecological systems in the Mediterranean. Ana Filipa currently focuses on using GIS, systematic literature reviews and questionnaires to find out more about the governance and management of protected areas and biosphere reserves.

Julius Rathgen’s PhD research is concerned with the production and consumption of food. Specifically, he does participatory research on alternative trade arrangements and their role in sustainability transformations. He is focusing on systematic literature reviews, social network analysis and mixed-methods.

Anna-Lena Rau has a background in biology and sustainability science and does research on the sustainable use of ecosystem services. She is particularly interested in ecosystem services in agriculture and their temporal dynamics and is mostly applying systematic literature reviews. She is a PhD student with the 2042 initiative at Leuphana University.

In addition I am co-supervising several external PhDs.