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Research & Innovation

WYSS ACADEMY COMPETENCE CENTERS

Our Research Teams

The elaboration of a shared understanding of the social-environmental system, its dynamics and trajectories are an important basis to negotiate a common vision for the future. Our professors and their teams engage in fundamental and applied research supporting the implementation of projects in our regional hubs. Our teams also strive to deliver key insights to policymakers at all levels, closely working with the Policy Outreach & Synthesis unit of the Wyss Academy.

Our research currently comprises four fields which are relevant to addressing major challenges identified by the Wyss Academy:

RESEARCH TEAM ON

Climate Scenarios for Sustainable Development

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Prof. Dr. Edouard Davin

Professor of Climate Scenarios for Sustainable Development

 

Prof. Dr. Edouard Davin is a climate scientist studying the interactions between the terrestrial biosphere, land use and climate. He has extensive experience in both global and regional climate modelling and a core area of his work has been to integrate the impact of land use change in past and future climate scenarios. Ultimately, his work aims to demonstrate the key role of land use and land management in the transformation toward sustainable futures. He served as a Lead Author in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land. His professorship at the Wyss Academy is affiliated with the Climate and Environmental Physics division and the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern.

Research Team 
Climate Scenarios for Sustainable Development

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Chantal Hari

PhD Candidate

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Inne Vanderkelen

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Marie-Estelle Demory

Senior Research Scientist

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Myke Koopmans

Research Intern

Jan Göpel

Jan Göpel

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Merel Jansen

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Rafael Stähli 

Master Student

Our Research

Climate science has long focused on modelling worst-case scenarios. Today, however, it is just as important to demonstrate pathways toward a climate-neutral world in line with the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Our research will include questions such as: Where are reductions in CO2 emissions possible, and to what extent? And: What role can negative-emission technologies play?

RESEARCH TEAM ON

Land Systems and Sustainability Transformations

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Prof. Dr. Julie Zähringer

Professor of Land Systems and Sustainability Transformations

 

Prof. Dr. Julie Zähringer is an integrative environmental scientist with a PhD in geography and sustainable development. She has a strong interest in socio-ecological systems research in least-developed countries. In her current research, she focuses on the interlinkages between land use changes, ecosystem services, and human well-being in the context of land investments and conservation in East Africa and South-East Asia. She is especially curious to understand what ecosystem service benefits can be obtained by land users from different types of usage, and how the link between ecosystem services and human wellbeing has changed over time. In addition, she investigates how land investments directly and indirectly affect land use, and the implications of these land use changes for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

Research Team
Land Systems and Sustainability Transformations

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Clara Diebold

PhD Candidate

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Madlaina Michelotti

Research Associate

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Merel Jansen

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Pablo Negret Torres

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Svitlana Lavrenciuc

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Martina Burger

Research Associate

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Phokam Latthachack

PhD candidate

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Phetsaphone Thanasack ​​

PhD candidate

Our Research

The question of how societies use available land is fundamental to finding durable solutions that can stem the loss of biodiversity and climate change. It is vital to recognize that these issues occur within interconnected systems. Using transdisciplinary approaches integrating different methods, our researchers study land use changes, ecosystem services, and human well-being in the context of land investments and conservation, in order to support urgently needed transformation towards sustainable development

RESEARCH TEAM ON

Political Economy and Sustainable Development

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Prof. Dr. Kai Gehring

Professor of Political Economy and Sustainable Development

 

Prof. Dr. Kai Gehring is currently a professor for political economy and sustainable development at the Economics department of the University of Bern, in addition to being a member of the Wyss Academy for Nature. As a research professor, he is also associated with the ifo institute in Munich. Before that, he worked at the University of Zurich, funded by a 4-year "Ambizione Grant" from the Swiss National Science Foundation. Currently, he is a Gheering isa member of CESifo, the European Development Network (EUDN), the Development Economics Committee of the German Economic Association, and the "Globalization and Development" Group (GlaD).

Research Team
Political Economy and Sustainable Development

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Arne Weiss

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Dylan Philippe

PhD Researcher

Lina Götze

Lina Götze

Research Associate

Matteo Grigoletto

Matteo Grigoletto

PhD Researcher

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Fernando Javier

Fernández

Postdoctoral Researcher

Our Research

Our research team develops theories that combine economic knowledge with an interdisciplinary perspective, and tests them rigorously using modern quasi-

experimental and experimental econometric methods. We rely on a variety of data sources that extend beyond classical economic indicators and include spatial, historical or text data. Two key current projects evolve around the role of narratives in enabling or preventing transformative change and around the challenge of sustainable and peaceful resource production. To do so, we strongly rely on machine learning techniques that we apply both to natural language processing as well as to the analysis of spatial images like satellite data.

In addition, two interdisciplinary projects address sustainable agriculture and carbon compensation markets and schemes. For those projects, we interact with researchers from other disciplines, as well as external stakeholders from the governmental, NGO and corporate sectors.

RESEARCH TEAM ON

Integrative Biodiversity Conservation Science

Prof. Dr. Margaret Owuor

Prof. Dr. Margaret Owuor

Professor in Integrative Biodiversity Conservation Science


Prof. Dr. Margaret Owuor is a conservation ecologist with a strong background in freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. At the Wyss Academy for Nature, she is the Professor of Integrative Biodiversity Conservation Science with affiliation to the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern. Her research focuses on nature's benefits to people and biodiversity conservation using ecosystem services approaches and frameworks - with a keen interest in the integration of science with policy in countries of the Global South. Margaret Owuor has adopted a strongly local participatory approach in her research. This has involved education, awareness creation, knowledge sharing, stakeholder engagement and the development of short videos to highlight environmental problems facing communities living within and adjacent to these ecosystems. She enjoys working with young people through teaching and mentorship, in order to ensure they gain confidence in their work as they develop their careers.

Research Team
Integrative Biodiversity Conservation Science

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Cecilia Olima

PhD Candidate

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Van Hai Nguyen

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Dr. Cornelius Okello

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Simangele Sithole

PhD Candidate

Our Research

The research team on Integrative Biodiversity Conservation Science aims to support and rethink conservation and will experiment with novel conservation approaches to address three main questions: How can the management of different conservation areas be designed to benefit both nature and people? How can conflicts between conservation and local livelihoods be turned into co-benefits? Which innovative institutional arrangements and partnerships can render conservation beneficial for nature and people?

 

For conservation to become effective, it is necessary to resolve conflicts between conservation and local people. The team adopts an interdisciplinary approach to conservation through the application of nature-based solutions (NbS), ecosystem services assessments using participatory approaches and transformative conservation governance to maximize co-benefits and incentivize local people to take part in biodiversity conservation

 

Our research themes and approaches thus allow us to promote inclusive and integrated processes to understand the current situation, assess bottlenecks, and identify leverage points and associated interventions for triggering and enabling transformative changes toward living in harmony with nature.

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