Researchers

 

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.

ResearchGate

 

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.

University website profile

 

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.

University website profile
ResearchGate

 

Dr. Florian Wilken
Augsburg University, 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.

University website profile

ResearchGate

 

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

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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.
University website profile

ResearchGate

 
 

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.

 

Joseph Okello
Ghent 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.

 

Matt Cooper
PhD student

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.
University website profile

ResearchGate

 

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.

University website profile

ResearchGate

 

Mario Reichenbach
Augsburg University, PhD student

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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).

University website profile
ResearchGate

 

Roxanne Daelman
Ghent University, PhD student

With a master in mathematics and a postgraduate in weather and climate modeling, I started my PhD at the Isotope Bioscience Laboratory – ISOFYS of Ghent University as an advocate of interdisciplinary research. As part of the CongoFlux team, I will focus on greenhouse gas fluxes between the tropical forest and atmosphere in the Congo Basin, measured by the flux tower at the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Yangambi. In addition, I will take a closer look at the exchange of CO2, CH4 and N2O between soil and atmosphere using automated, dynamic soil chambers.

 

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.

ResearchGate

 

Viktor Van de Velde
Ghent University, PhD student

After completing my master’s degree in tropical agriculture, I had the opportunity to join the ISOFYS team at Ghent University as a PhD student. My research focuses on the biogeochemical recuperation of Afrotropical secondary forests after slash-and-burn events using four work packages. The main focus is, respectively, on nutrient limitations during the growth of pioneer tree species, biogeochemical recuperation of soils in terms of microbial functional and taxonomic composition and N- and P cycling, yield determinations of cassava, and finally a large-scale meta-analysis of Afrotropical chronosequence studies resulting in an integrated study. The combination of these work packages will render a comprehensive view on shifting agriculture and its effects on tropical regrowth forests, filling important knowledge gaps from the understudied Congo Basin.