Dr. Adam Amir

Florida State University, PostDoc

I am a filmmaker with an interdisciplinary background including philosophy, political ecology, science communication, and feminist methodologies. For my research I use collaborative methods, particularly "Folk Filmmaking", a form of participatory video production that helps local communities express their environmental values and concerns through storytelling. My work focuses on cross-cultural, moral debates over environmental issues and explores how collaborative filmmaking can help foster contextual, respectful adjudication. I conducted Folk Filmmaking projects in Nigeria, Cameroon, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and shared the methods while assisting productions with the Hualapai and Navajo Nations. With the Spencer Lab I am working in the Congo River Basin and refining Folk Filmmaking as a method for communicating environmental issues through respectful, cross-cultural media production.


Dr. Marijn Bauters

Ghent University, PostDoc

Marijn Bauters is a Postdoc researcher at the Isotope Bioscience laboratory – ISOFYS of Ghent University and the Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology (CAVE) lab. He holds a Phd Degree in Applied Biological Sciences (2018, Ghent University). He studies the interaction of ecology and biogeochemical cycles in tropical forests and hopes that improved knowledge on this topic leads to better conservation incentives. At this moment, his research strongly focusses on nitrogen and phoshporus biogeochemistry in the plant-soil continuum, and their role in forest regrowth in central Africa.


Dr. Matti Barthel

ETH Zurich, Research technician

After graduating in ecology and working as a scientist in the field of biogeochemistry and plant ecophysiology, I switched my focus to the analytical side of research mainly working on the analysis of N2O isotopocules using laser and mass spectrometry. My general research interest focusses on the biogeochemical cycling of C and N across different ecosystems. Within this broad framework, I am particularly interested in aquatic and terrestrial greenhouse gas exchange using micrometeorological and stable isotope methods.  In the Congo Basin, we aim to quantify nitrous oxide emissions across various tropical forest types as tropical forests, in general, are believed to be the main natural source of nitrous oxide.


Dr. Travis Drake

ETH Zurich, PostDoc

My current research is focused on the effect of deforestation and agriculture on carbon mobilization in watersheds of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. To accomplish this, I use a variety of analytical tools to characterize both organic and inorganic carbon in streams draining pristine and impacted catchments. These include stable and radiocarbon isotopes, FT-ICR mass spectrometry, fluorescence, uv-visible absorbance, and bioincubations. With these tools I strive to link the isotopic signature of inorganic carbon with potential organic sources. Underpinning this research is an effort to improve methods of capturing whole watershed processes, since a growing body of work has highlighted headwaters as important vents for respired terrestrial carbon dioxide.


Dr. Florian Wilken

Augsburg University, ETH Zurich, PostDoc

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Florian Wilken is a post-doc working in the field of soil erosion and associated carbon dynamics. Florians expertise links monitoring and modelling of hydrological and sedimentological processes. Furthermore, Florian works in the field of satellite and drone based remote sensing.

Within TropSOC, Florian is involved in the drone activities. The drone monitoring covers a continuous tracking of soil erosion related surface changes, multi-spectral vegetation and soil monitoring and hyper-spectral derivation of soil properties. Florian is also involved in the reconstruction of the soil erosion history (past 60 yrs.) using radionuclide fallout tracers.


Bagalwa Rukeza Montfort

Catholic University of Louvain, PhD student

I am a researcher at the Goma Volcanological Observatory, in charge of the remote sensing section of natural hazards. Since November 2018, I have a MSc in Management Environmental Sciences. I am a doctoral student enrolled at the Catholic University of Louvain. My research area is focused on human impact on sediment flows in the western part of the Lake Kivu region, D.R.C.

My role in the current project is to contribute to the management of forest ecosystems and soil protection against erosion in eastern of D.R.Congo.


Benjamin Bukombe

Augsburg University, PhD student


I am an agricultural and soil scientist. I got my bachelor’s degree in soil and environment and my master’s degree in agricultural sciences with specialization on soils.  My previous researches have been focusing on integrated soil fertility management, digital soil mapping and remote sensing of the landscape.

I am currently a PhD student funded by the TropSOC project, at the Institute of Geography, Augsburg University. As part of project objectives, I am trying to understand the effects of erosion and geochemistry on nutrient cycles and biomass production in tropical forests and agroecosystems with much focus on carbon. I will assess carbon inputs patterns and release and the effects that change in soil conditions has on plant biomass allocation strategies across different geochemical systems of tropical Africa.


Daniel Muhindo

Catholic University of Bukavu, Local monitoring coordinator


I am Daniel Muhindo Iragi, a junior lecturer at UCB (Université Catholique de Bukavu). I hold a 5 years degree in agricultural engineering and a master's in Integrated Watershed Management in which I specialized in land suitability assessment using geographic information system and remote sensing technologies.

In the TropSOC project I am responsible for monitoring event-driven erosion rates and landscape dynamics using UAV photogrammetry as well as assessing soil and plant surface property using VIS-NIR concerning CNP, soil moisture and soil texture. Through Plutonium derived erosion estimates and model results with UAV, my task is also to model erosion at catchment scale in tropical environments.


Isaac Makelele

Ghent University, PhD student

Isaac Makelele is a PhD researcher at the Isotope Bioscience Laboratory – ISOFYS of Ghent University. He attained his Master degree at the Univeristé de Kisangani, and was teaching subsequently in the Université Officielle de Bukavu and the Université Catholique de Bukavu. His research strongly focusses on nitrogen cycling within tropical forests along successional gradients.

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Joseph Okello

IGhent University, PhD student

Joseph Okello is a PhD researcher at the Isotope Bioscience Laboratory – ISOFYS and Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology (CAVE) laboratory of Ghent University. He holds MSc. degree in Physical Land Resources - major soil science from Ghent University. Currently, his research focuses on biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus along elevation transect in Rwenzori montane forest. His research interest include sustainable land management and restoration of degraded land through integrated soil fertility management.


Laura Summerauer

ETH Zurich, PhD student

I am a researcher in soil and agricultural sciences, with a particular interest in tropical (agro-​) ecosystems and carbon and nutrient cycling. Currently, I am studying controls on soil ecosystem services, such as regulating (carbon dynamics and climate change mitigation), supporting (soil fertility, plant nutrients) and provisioning (food production) ecosystem services in a highly eroding and degrading landscape of the Eastern Congo Basin under the influence of topography, land use, land use change and biogeochemistry. Furthermore, I am working on soil infrared spectroscopy and statistical modeling approaches.


Matt Cooper

Mountains of the Moon University, local monitoring coordinator

Matt is a prospective PhD candidate working as a systems scientist addressing linkages between anthropogenic soil disturbances and tropical forest recovery mechanisms. His doctoral study will utilise state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques to bridge the gap between plot scale and landscape scale analyses of tropical forest carbon and vegetation dynamics. His specific focus lies in East Africa where he has lived and worked for more than ten years in different conservation and restoration ecology projects. His master's degree was obtained at the Freie Universitaet in Berlin in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity and his bachelor's degree at The Open University in Milton Keynes in Environmental Science.


Laurent Kidinda

Dresden University of Technology, PhD student


I am an Agronomist Engineer with emphasis on soil weathering, carbon and nutrient cycling. I am a research associate in the framework of TropSOC (DFG funded (DFG funded Emmy Noether group) and I hold a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to carry out my PhD research at Dresden University of Technology. My PhD research focuses on understanding if soil erosion in the eastern part of the Congo Basin is fast enough to reach the less weathered regolith, which contains the minerals with more reactive surfaces to stabilize carbon, while still allowing fast soil weathering and nutrient retention at a high level. Along geochemical and geomorphic gradients, I evaluate the effects of pedogenic oxides and clays minerals on carbon stabilization and release, as well as microbial processes related to C cycling (e.g. microbial biomass carbon, enzyme activities, Extracellular polymeric substances, and amino sugars).

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Mario Reichenbach

Augsburg University, PhD student


I am a PhD-Student working in the DFG funded Emma Noether Research Group TropSOC since February 2018. Within this project I am focusing on different soil C fractions and C stabilization mechanisms in tropical soils in the Congo Basin. 

I did my B.Sc. in Physical Geography at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and carried out my Bachelor Thesis in the northernmost part of Namibia focussing on soil ecological assessments on agricultural areas. I finished my M.Sc. in Geoscience/ Geology/ Paleontology also in Frankfurt a. M. For my master thesis I conducted a geological mapping in the austrian alps and reconstructed the palecological parameters and sedimentary processes of the cretaceous Mittagsspitz formation. My research interests includes quantification of stable/ labile soil C fractions in tropical soils on different geologies; soil fractionations and C stabilization mechanisms in different soil geochemistries and geomorphic positions; sequential mineral extraction and clay classification and evaluation of novel techniques for high-resolution, low cost soil assessment techniques in tropical systems suitable for large scale assessments (FT-IR spectroscopy).

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Sebagenzi Guy David

University of Lubumbashi, PhD student

I am an Agronomist Engineer, I have a background in Crop Science, soil Fertility, and soil Biology. I worked as Research Assistant and as Junior Researcher at the University of Lubumbashi, research unit in Biogeochemistry, Ecology of Soil and Tropical Ecosystems.

Currently I am a Ph.D. Student focusing on the effects of termite mound grading and the spreading of their materials on the spatial and temporal evolution of soil chemical and physical fertility and on agricultural productivity by analyzing the physico-chemical soil fertility, spatial and temporal variability in a grading context and analyzing how this spatio-temporal variability affects agricultural production. I am also focuses on new methodologies (Photogrammetry, UAV and Spectroscopy).


Simon Baumgartner

Catholic University of Louvain, PhD student

I studied Environmental Sciences at ETH in Zürich with a major in Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics.  I conducted my MSc thesis in the DRC, where I measured N2O fluxes and their isotopic composition across different forest types (Kahuzi-Biéga, Yoko and Yangambi). Because of this thesis, I got interested in the nutrient cycles of tropical forest ecosystems and the work in the DRC. My PhD is within the FORSEDCO-project at UCL in Louvain-la-Neuve. The goal of my work is to quantify particulate nutrient export (mainly nitrogen) in first-order streams because the availability of nutrients determines the productivity of forests and is an important factor controlling carbon sequestration. Furthermore, we want to assess the factors controlling these particulate losses due to erosion and its significance to the nutrient availability of tropical forests.