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). The group addresses dynamics in groundwater quantity and quality that lead to environmental risks, such as droughts and pollution, associated societal conflicts and institutional settings with perspectives from natural and social sciences as well as from stakeholders at the European and 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 are working on joint research questions regarding the social-ecological regulation of groundwater in Europe in interdisciplinary teams 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.

Duration

September 2020 – August 2025

Funding

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 junior reserach group consists of six members with different disciplinary backgrounds. While Dr. Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky and Dr. Robert Lütkemeier lead the group and work on their habilitations, Anne Jäger, David Kuhn, Dženeta Hodžić and Linda Söller work as PhD-candidates on their individual dissertations.

Dr. Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky
ISOE | Research Fellow

Fanny is a research fellow at ISOE, specializing 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 researches social aspects of groundwater regulation in Europe.

Dr. Robert Lütkemeier
ISOE | Research Fellow

As a research fellow at ISOE, Robert specializes in numerical water demand modelling. He received his doctorate in geography at the University of Bonn on the subject of drought risk and vulnerability in Namibia and Angola. Besides qualitative interview techniques and quantitative spatial analyses (GIS), Robert applies non-linear modelling techniques (e.g., multiple linear regression and artificial neural networks) to investigate water use characteristics, especially focusing on their spatial and temporal patterns. In regulate, Robert explores the diverse sectoral groundwater uses in Europe with a particular focus on remote effects (telecouplings) between regions.

Anne Jäger
UKL | Research Fellow

Anne Jäger is a PhD candidate in the 'Molecular Ecology' working group, University Koblenz-Landau. For her B.Sc. in Biology at Free University Berlin and as student assistant at Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), she focused on macroinvertebrate based lake shore assessments. She holds a Master’s degree in International Studies in Aquatic Tropical Ecology from the University Bremen. For her thesis she worked at Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) on collective action in Costa Rican fisheries' communities. Within regulate, Anne investigates anthropogenic stressors and their impacts on groundwater ecosystems.

David Kuhn
ISOE | Research Fellow

David is a research fellow at ISOE, specializing in groundwater governance. After obtaining his B.A. in political science at Free University of Berlin, he completed the interdisciplinary master’s programme Sustainable Development (M.Sc.) at Utrecht University (Netherlands) with a focus on the governance of social-ecological systems. For his master thesis, he investigated success factors for transdisciplinary knowledge production in water reuse. In regulate, David researches conflicts, power relations and inequalities in the use and regulation of groundwater by applying policy, discourse and stakeholder analysis.

Dženeta Hodžić
ISOE | Research Fellow

Dženeta is a research fellow at ISOE specializing in water governance and ethnographic research on groundwater and policies. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in European Ethnology from Humboldt University Berlin. For her MA thesis, she conducted long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she studied the entanglement of renewable energy policies, socio-technical imaginaries and environmental knowledge. Within regulate, Dženeta ethnographically investigates underlying cultural dimensions of groundwater extraction practices in two European case studies.

Linda Söller
GU | Research Fellow

Linda is a PhD-candidate in the working group Hydrology at the Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe-University. She holds a M.Sc. in Physical Geography from Goethe-University with a focus on global freshwater resources and biodiversity and their modification through climate change and human interventions. In her thesis, she investigated anthropogenic streamflow alterations and their impact on freshwater biota using global hydrological modelling and expert surveys. Within regulate, Linda investigates alterations in groundwater quantity due to climate change and human water use.

Supervisors

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

Assistants

The group is supported by the following interns and research assistants.

Sophia Keller
ISOE | Research Assistant

Sophia is a research assistant at ISOE since 2018, working at the research unit on Water Infrastructure and Risk Analysis. She mainly supports research projects focusing on the implementation of alternative water infrastructure and water reuse in developing countries and Germany. Additionally, she supported internal basic research on water in the Anthropocene (artificial waters) and water and digitalisation. Her area of responsibility concludes policy analysis and research as well as supporting stakeholder workshops, scientific papers, documentation and organisation. In July 2021, she joined the 'regulate' project. 

Sophia studied political science (B.A.) and is looking forward to her Master in International Relations/Peace- and conflict analysis at Goethe University Frankfurt. In her Bachelor’s thesis, she did a conceptual analysis of Socio-Hydrology and Hydrosocial Research and their potential contribution to the transformation of water governance in the Anthropocene.

Mirza Becevic
ISOE | Research Assistant

Mirza joined the regulate team in July 2021. He studies Environmental Chemistry (M.Sc.) at the University of Bayreuth, with interests in the tripartite interactions between Solid Waste Management, groundwater and climate change, especially in the context of karst geology. During his undergraduate studies in biology and chemistry in the United States at Bennington College, he worked with the Vermont State Senator and the former EPA Regional Administrator on regulation of toxics (such as PFOA) and the microplastics pollution in rivers and lakes, resulting in S.219, a bill proposal calling for risk evaluation of microplastics in Vermont's surface waters. In regulate, he supports the case studies in South-Eastern Europe in organization, literature research and fieldwork preparation.

Kristiane Fehrs
ISOE | Research Assistant

Kristiane Fehrs is a research assistant at ISOE since November 2021, working in the project regulate, where she contributes to the case study on water management in Mansfeld-Südharz, Germany. Within this case study she is conducting research for her M.A. thesis on water infrastructures, which she writes at the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt-University Berlin. Kristiane received her B.A. from Hafen City University, Hamburg, where she studied Metropolitan Culture. She is interested in Science and Technology Studies, Urban Studies as well as  Postsocialist Research.

Ulrike Mausolf
ISOE | Research Assistant

Ulrike is a research assistant in regulate since January 2022, supporting the case study in Germany by preparing, implementing, and analysing empirical research. Within the case study, she conducts ethnographic research for her M.A. thesis on forms of participation and knowledge practices surrounding the management of ground- and drinking water in Mansfeld-Südharz. Ulrike holds a B.A. in European Ethnology from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, where she focused her work on postsocialist and postcolonial theories and their intertwining fields of interest. In her B.A. thesis she studied the subjectivization, positionality, and representation of young East Germans.