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.


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 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 the ethnography of water and environment-human relations. 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.


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


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

Katharina Koböck
ISOE | Research Assistant

Katharina has been working as a research assistant in ISOE's research area water resources and land use since 2019. Since 2020, she is also involved in the research project regulate. She mainly takes care of updating the website as well as literature research.
Katharina studied pedagogy in her Bachelor's degree at LMU Munich and is currently writing her Master's thesis in educational science at TU Darmstadt. In addition, she is involved in environmental science through her minor and additional courses.

Frederik Winter
ISOE | Research Assistant

As a student of interdisciplinary engineering, Frederik is currently partaking in a research internship in the regulate project. In his engineering studies he specialized in international technical cooperation and environmental technology. In several study projects concerning development cooperation he worked on technical concepts and case study reports in the fields of energy, waste, and water management with a special focus on interdisciplinary impacts of development work. In the junior research group regulate, he aims to conceptualize his bachelor's thesis in the field of drinking water data evaluation and subsequently complete it in cooperation with the RheinMain University Wiesbaden.

Diana Molewijk
ISOE | Research Assistant

Diana has been working as a research assistant in the research group regulate since the end of 2020. Her main tasks are literature research and literature administration. She is studying for a Master's degree in environmental engineering at the TU Darmstadt, specialising in water and soil conservation as well as supply and disposal technology. For her bachelor thesis, a paper was published in the MDPI journal, research field remote sensing, with the title “A conceptual approach to modeling the geospatial impact of typical urban threats on the habitat quality of river corridors”.