Regulation of Groundwater in Telecoupled Social-Ecological Systems

Regulate is a junior research group exploring current challenges in management of the ‘hidden resource’ groundwater in Europe, against the background of long-distance environmental and societal feedbacks (telecouplings). Dynamics in groundwater quantity and quality that lead to environmental risks such as droughts and pollution, associated societal conflicts and institutional settings are addressed with perspectives from natural and social sciences as well as from stakeholders at the European and at local levels.

Four doctoral and two post-doctoral research projects are integrated under the overall research topic of ‘Telecoupled Social-Ecological Systems’. All members of the group will work on joint research questions regarding the social-ecological regulation of groundwater in Europe in interdisciplinary teamwork and in transdisciplinary collaboration with stakeholders. The research group is based at ISOE in Frankfurt with Goethe University Frankfurt and the University of Koblenz-Landau as partnering institutions. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the Social-Ecological Research Framework of FONA.


September 2020 – August 2025


The junior research group “regulate – Regulation of Groundwater in Telecoupled Social-Ecological Systems” is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the programme „Research for sustainable development (FONA)“. In FONA, ‘regulate’ belongs to the funding concept “SOEF – Social-Ecological Research” within the funding measure “Junior research groups social-ecological research”.

Junior Research Group

The research group is headed by Dr Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky and Dr Robert Luetkemeier. Four doctoral researchers will join the team shortly.

Dr Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky
ISOE – Research Fellow

Fanny is a research fellow at ISOE specialised in water governance. She holds a PhD in Geography from King’s College London and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In her PhD thesis and as a research assistant at the Institute of Geography at Humboldt-University of Berlin, she investigated institutions and social inequalities in access to water and adaptation to flooding using the example of Accra (Ghana). Prior to this, she worked at the Ecologic Institute in Berlin. She studied environmental planning in Munich, Morelia (Mexico) and London. Within regulate Fanny is researching social aspects of groundwater regulation in Europe.

Dr Robert Luetkemeier
ISOE – Research Fellow

Since April 2013 Robert Luetkemeier has been a research scientist at ISOE, working in the research unit Water Resources and Land Use. In his research, he focuses on integrated water resources management, modelling societal water demand and approaches in vulnerability and risk research. He studied Geography at the University of Bonn and received his doctorate in October 2018. In his dissertation, he assessed drought risk of households in Namibia and Angola via an integrated assessment of the environmental drought hazard and the socio-economic vulnerability conditions. Within regulate Robert is researching hydrological aspects of groundwater regulation in Europe.


The junior research group is supervised by Petra Döll, Hans Jürgen Hahn, Antje Bruns and Gisela Welz.

Prof Dr Petra Döll
Goethe University Frankfurt

PD Dr Hans Jürgen Hahn
University Koblenz Landau

Prof Dr Antje Bruns
Trier University

Prof Dr Gisela Welz
Goethe University Frankfurt