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 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.


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
Dr. Alexandra Lux


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

Vinzent Rüttger
ISOE | Research Assistant

Vinzent joined the regulate team in January 2023 as a research assistant. His tasks in the regulate project lie within the research for data, as well as its processing and mapping. Hereby he focuses mainly on the aspect of water consumption. Vinzent is currently studying physical geography at the Goethe Universität Frankfurt.  His thematic focus lies on hydrogeography and the social-ecological conflicts, that are linked to water and climate change.

Sarah Wohlmann
ISOE | Research Assistant

Sarah joined the regulate team in November 2021. Her main tasks involve supporting external communication including social media, literature research, and assisting in organising events such as stakeholder workshops.

Sarah is currently studying environmental sciences as part of the master’s program at Goethe-University Frankfurt mainly focusing on ecology and social-ecology. Within her focal areas, she specialized on environmental toxicology and environmental analytics in aquatic ecosystems. Sarah received her B.Sc. from Karl-Ruprecht University Heidelberg where she studied biosciences. Her focus was particularly on molecular biology, immunology, and ecology.

Tatiana Molano
ISOE | Research Assistant

Tatiana is a student pursuing a Master's in Environmental Governance at the University of Freiburg. She also holds a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the National University of Colombia. She started her journey with the regulate team in February 2023 as an intern and now serves as a research assistant. Tatiana's primary responsibilities include conducting literature reviews, transcribing interviews, and analyzing qualitative data. Her areas of interest include natural resource governance, environmental policy, and sustainability transitions.