I grew up in the historic town of Leipzig, Germany, which is known for being a trade city since the time of the Holy Roman Empire and for playing a significant role in instigating the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. Since travel was somewhat restricted in the former German Democratic Republic I spent many summers of my childhood camping and kayaking in Mecklenburg (northern Germany), which sparked my passion for the outdoors and observing nature. During the last two years in Highschool I decided to specialize in Geography to learn the fundamentals of climate, soil, vegetation, ecology, hydrology and how tourism and cultural and economic development have impacted these systems. After Highschool I decided to study at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, Germany to earn a "Diplom" (German standard Science degree, equivalent to a M.Sc.) in Physical Geography. I also chose to study Ecology and Geology as minor subjects to gain a broader education in Earth Sciences. From my second semester on I worked as a regular student assistant for Prof. Dr. Wolfgang-Albert Flügel, the chair of the Geoinformatics, Geohydrology and Modeling section within the Geography department. From this work I gained a lot of practical skill sets that I am still using today including GIS, remote sensing, database management, HTML programming and integrated water resources management modeling. Through various other internships at the Max-Planck Insitute for Biogeochemistry I gained some knowledge in carbon cycling, carbon isotope research and biodiversity. However, the work for Dr. Flügel ultimately decided my fate to become a hydrologist. I graduated from the University in Jena in 2004 after developing a wetland classification system for palustrine wetlands in South Africa and delineating different wetland types for a 237 sqkm catchment in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa using terrain indices derived from a 30m DEM.
In 2006 I joined the Soil and Water Lab at Cornell University as a trainee and one year later as a Ph.D. student in Environmental Engineering. Being part of the SWL, which comprised 30 graduate students from all over the World, was truly inspiring, interesting and probably the most life-shaping experience in my life. I had absolute freedom to chose my own research topic. Inspired by the Henry Darcy Medal lecture that Dr. Tammo Steenhuis gave at the EGU meeting in 2005 I decided that I wanted to do research in the area of Variable Source Area Hydrology. Using a combined approach of field-based research consisting of lateral flow observations in a trenched hillslope, geophysical methods (ground penetrating radar and electromagnetic induction) and a SCS-Curve-Number-based water balance model I was able to validate the VSA-interpretation of the SCS-CN method proposed by Steenhuis et al. (1995, Journal of Irrigation and Drainage) and proof general assumptions made in VSA hydrology regarding it's role on nutrient transport with subsurface stormflow. While being at Cornell University I also had the pleasure of taking classes from Dr. Wilfried Brutsaert, Dr. Yves Parlange and Dr. Jery Stedinger and spending 6 weeks in Ethiopia to supervise students that were admitted to the Cornell Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program in International Agriculture and Rural Development with specialization in Integrated Watershed Management in completing their thesis work.
Calibrating a pressure transducer in a clay pot in Debre Mewi watershed, Ethiopia.
|Downloading data from an automatic weather station on Rabots Glacier, Sweden.|
After graduating from Cornell University I spent 2.5 years in Sweden to work as postdoctoral researcher at Stockholm University. This position gave me the chance to work in a field of hydrology that was completely new to me, namely cold region, snow and glacial hydrology. My task as PostDoc at Stockholm University was to investigate the effects of climate change on the hydrology of the subarctic Tarfala catchment in northern Sweden. Tarfala is mainly known for it's largest glacier, Storglaciären, which served as training ground for many known glaciologists, including Roger L. Hooke, Regine Hock, Andrew Fountain, Jack Kohler and Peter Jansson. Every year I spent on average 2.5 months at Tarfala Research Station to, for example, collect water samples for stable water isotope analysis and total organic and inorganic carbon content and to conduct Rhodamine WT and Uranine tracer experiments on Storglaciären to investigate potential changes in the subglacial drainage system of the glacier. Some of this work is still ongoing and will probably spark more research ideas in the coming years.
In April 2013 I joined the Dept. of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis as Assistant Professor in Physical Hydrology. Currently, I am in the process of putting my research and teaching program together, forming new collaborations and recruit students and staff for new research projects. Some of the research topics that I will be working on in the next few years include surface water-groundwater interactions in both agricultural environments and the mountainous watersheds of the Sierra Nevada, the interaction between rivers, ecosystems and geomorphology in mountain watersheds and hydrology-climate change interactions.