The only constant in life
I'm a researcher working in the field of sustainability and sustainability transition. As system thinker, I work interdisciplinarily and understand a matter through its connections and embeddedness with the wider context.
While the overarching topic is sustainability I do focus on natural resources (agriculture, energy) and political economy questions.
I have looked at sustainability and sustainability transition issues from sustainable development, market power, human behavior, as well as energy transition angles. My current research is in the field of the bioeconomy and the role of interdisciplinary research for the transition towards a bioeconomy.
My master’s thesis became a comprehensive work and opened a whole new universe to me. I realized that I want to stay in research and became fascinated by the green economy idea, ecological economics, the ecosystem service concept, the degrowth movement, etc.
After finishing my master degree I got the possibility of doing my PhD in Belgium at Hasselt University. This PhD allowed me to work on a Horizon 2020 project called SUFISA. I was part of the environmental economics research group and was supervised by Steven van Passel. The topic of my PhD was market power and sustainability, whereat I looked at it from a political economy perspective. Clearly, market power is never limited to the market. Market power has up until recently been mostly seen through an efficiency gains lense. This seems to be changing again. An overdue change, I would say. However, market power and sustainability are related. Though the relationship is complex and not straight forward. Check out my thesis on the publication page to find out more. Within the SUFISA project, I have been working transdisciplinary. I mostly collaborated with sugar beet farmers and sugar beet refineries in Flanders. The project allowed me to do interviews, workshops, focus groups and a survey. I could apply systems thinking again, use grounded theory, work with R, NViVO and Qualtrixs. It was also a great pleasure to work on deliverables, blog posts, policy briefs, scientific publications and conference contributions. Furthermore, I could gain more experience in project management.
For my first postdoctoral research postion I was working at Delft University of Technology. There I was part of the Energy Transition Lab working under the supervision of Gerdien de Vries. My work focused on human behaviour in the energy transition.
My second and current postdoctoral position is at Wageningen University at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group (KTI). I am working on a project that aims to support the transtion towards the bioeconomy. One of my tasks is to investigate how interdisciplinary research can be facilitated to assist the transition.
I began by studying International Development at the University of Vienna, which was a great pleasure and gave me the freedom to focus on my personal research interests. International Development is an interdisciplinary study curriculum allowing students to learn about all aspects of development and optional lectures permitted me to focus on subjects I was passionate about.
Due to a very deep connection with nature, I have always been interested in the environmental aspects in development. As an important starting point for me was the study of indigenous culture, I attended classes on indigenous peoples at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna. These courses gave me anthropological insights into the role of indigenous peoples in development and environmental protection. I worked with inspiring and experienced researchers who influenced my future path significantly. I started to reflect more on the relevance of the human relationship to nature, in relation with development, and I began a more intensive focus on agriculture. In turn, I attended agronomic lectures at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, and mainly focused on organic farming. As organic farming is more than just an alternative farming practice, it taught me the connections within as well as between systems; a way of thinking that I encountered again in other lectures about systems thinking.
I have a great interest in systems thinking: A holistic way of thinking and understanding humans and their relations with the environment. Apart from taking more lectures at the University of Vienna, I started attending courses at Institute of Social Ecology at the Alpe-Adria University where I learned more about systems thinking and methods to measure human impacts on the environment. The book ‘Limits to Growth’ inspired me to keep focused on environmental issues. Indeed, economics has always been a focus of mine and I knew that it was a major influential factor and should not be neglected in my research. Finally, through my master’s thesis (supervised by Simron Singh), I could dedicate my time to economics.