University of Duisburg-Essen

Creative inspiration between Rhine and Ruhr: the densest European University landscape surrounds the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE).
Founded in 2003 through the merger of the two universities Duisburg and Essen, the University Duisburg-Essen is the youngest University of North Rhihe-Westphalia and is among the ten largest in Germany.

Both campi are easily accesible and offer a wide range of international subjects from the humanities and social sciences of economics to the engineering and natural sciences and medicine for about 40.000 students.
Students from 130 nations are studying at the University Duisburg-Essen.

The UDE is among the top ten of the strongest research oriented universities of Germany in many disciplines.

The five priority research areas, nano-science, biomedical sciences, urban systems, empirial educational research and transformation of contemporary societies, ensure that the research revenues increased about 150 percent in the past three years.

There are nine working groups in six faculties who work for FUTURE WATER:

Faculty of Biology: Aquatic Ecology

Aquatic Ecology

Main topics of the Department of Aquatic Ecology are biodiversity, assessment and restauration of water bodies, climate change, invasive species, parasitology, ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry. These topics were implemented within national and European research projects, from which some are coordinated by the Department itself. More information can be found on the website of the research department.


Bernd Sures (Prof. Dr.) has its research priorities in aquatic ecotoxicology and parasitology. He is focusing on the effects of contaminants and other stressors on aquatic animals. In Future Water he is participating in several projects. But his major task is the coordination of the project of Gerhard Schertzinger, who will doctorate under him.

Daniel Hering (Prof. Dr.) has been working for more than 20 years in and over water bodies. The range of topics includes interactions between land and water, the role of dead wood and the evaluation and restoration of rivers. In FUTURE WATER he is involved especially in the project of Daniel Teschlade.

Julios Kontchou is a PhD Student at the Department of Aquatic Ecology, University of Duisburg-Essen. He studied Biochemistry in his Bachelor at the University of Buea, Cameroon and moved to Germany for a Master degree in Environmental Toxicology at the UDE. His Master thesis was on the development of a fast detection method for Legionella pneumophila in water samples at IWW Mülheim. His project is aimed at investigating pollutants in rivers introduced by urban runoffs and their effects on aquatic organisms.

Gerhard Schertzinger is one of the FUTURE WATER doctoral students. He graduated the Bachelor and Master study course Water Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. In his final papers he deals with bioaccumulation and toxicity of metals in different organisms as well as metal quantification in biological samples using different analytical methods.

Louisa Rothe is an associated FUTURE WATER-member. Her dissertation is supervised by Prof. Bernd Sures. She graduated at University Duisburg-Essen where she studied biology and arts for the teaching profession. In her thesis (state exam) she explored food webs in urban restored streams via stable isotope analysis to investigate the effects of restoration on the food web structure.

In her Ph.D. thesis, the effects of micropollutants on macroinvertebrates are investigated. The project is funded by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU). It is a cooperation of the University Duisburg-Essen, the Ruhrverband, and the Limco company.

Marion Woermann is an associated FUTURE WATER-fellow and is working on her PhD project in the department of Aquatic Ecology under the supervision of Bernd Sures. She studied Biology and Environmental Toxicology at the University of Duisburg-Essen. During practical work for her degrees, she could gather experiences in the fields of ecotoxicology, analytical chemistry, microbiology and environmental chemistry. In her PhD, she investigates possible adverse effects of activated carbon from wastewater treatment plants on aquatic organisms.

Faculty of Biology: Biodiversity


Our research focuses on the biodiversity, ecology, and evolution of protists, a large but poorly studied group of microbes. We study protists both at the organismal and molecular levels, including through phylogenetic analysis, population genetics, and biogeography. Our work is highly interdisciplinary and often sits at the interface of established specialist areas, such as between the earth and life sciences. To that end, we are highly active within a number of multidisciplinary research networks and collaborations, cooperating closely with colleagues both in Germany and internationally.

to the website

Jens Boenigk (Prof. Dr.) ist head of the department Biodiversity. His reseach focuses are evolutionary ecology, organismic interactions, system biology and climate change. He is supervising the project of Julia Nuy.

Julia Nuy is working on her PhD in the department. During her bachelor thesis, she was engaged in the development of molecular methods for comparative diversity studies. Her master thesis deals with the bioinformatical processing of Next Generation Sequencing Data, aiming at the investigation of nitrogen cycling prokaryotes based on a huge dataset of European lakes. The focus of her PhD topic is the analysis of impacts of flooding – on the one hand – on the composition of prokaryotes, focusing on nitrogen cycling microorganisms, and – on the other hand – on the functions of these communities.

Guido Sieber is PhD student in the department biodiversity and FUTURE WATER member. He graduated the Bachelor at the University of Duisburg-Essen. In his Bachelor thesis he examined the effects of multiple stressors on biofilms. He finished his M.Sc. in the subject “biodiversity” at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Ruhr University Bochum. As part of his doctoral thesis, he is investigating the effects of zinc and nanoplastics on protists.

Faculty of Chemistry: Biofilm Centre/Aquatic Microbiology

Biofilm Centre/Aquatic Microbiology

Important life processes occur at interfaces. For example, most of the microorganisms on earth are living at such interfaces. These can be solid-liquid, liquid-liquid, liquid-gas, they can even serve as interfaces themselves. Common to all is that they are embedded in a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS, "slime"), where they can form stable, synergistic micro consortia, can exchange genes easier, have a large gene pool and are protected from biocides. The EPS matrix has absorbing properties and can accumulate nutrients, which is crucial for life under starvation conditions.

Also biotechnology already makes biofilms in many ways available. This ranges from the use of immobilized surface-bound enzymes and micro-organisms for sewage treatment within biofilm reactors, the biological waste treatment till direct microbial leaching of ores. The potential that lies in a deeper understanding of the role of interfaces for the processes taking place there and their optimization is yet underestimated by biotechnology.

Website of the Centre

Rainer Meckenstock (Prof. Dr.) is head of the department for Aquatic Microbiology in the Biofilm Centre of the UDE. In the project "Viruses in biofilms", Prof. Meckenstock is the first supervisor of Martin Mackowiak.

Jost Wingender (Dr.) is head of the research group „Pathogens in biofilms“ in the department of Aquatic Microbiology at the Biofilm Centre of the UDE. His research focuses on water hygiene with aspects of appearance and validation of pathogenic microorganisms within biofilms of environmental and technical water systems, but also research on extracellular polymeric substances in biofilms. In the project “Viruses in biofilms”, Dr. Wingender is tutor of Martin Mackowiak.

Martin Mackowiak (M.Sc.) is PhD student in the department of Aquatic Microbiology at the Biofilm Centre at the UDE as well as in the department of Hygiene, Social- and Environmental Medicine at the RUB. He finished his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in the interdisciplinary subject of “Water Science” at the University of Duisburg-Essen and specialized on aspects of water hygiene during his bachelor and master thesis.

Sneha Suresh (M. Sc.) is a PhD student at the department of Aquatic Microbiology since July 2018. She completed her master in Water Science with a focus on Environmental microbiology. During the master thesis, she worked with Stable isotope probing methods to identify key degraders of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in a mixed microbial consortium.

Faculty of Chemistry: Instrumental Analytical Chemistry

Instrumental Analytical Chemistry

In the Department of Instrumental Analytical Chemistry (IAC) at the UDE, about 50 scientists, staff and students are working on topics in the fields of development and application of analytical methods (separation techniques (GC, LC), sample preparation, isotope analysis and ion mobility spectrometry) and water chemistry/technology (sorption, oxidation processes). For more information, refer to the website of the department and the available flyer.

to the website

Torsten C. Schmidt (Prof. Dr.) is currently Chairman of the Water Chemical Society in the German Chemical Society as well as chairman of the Centre for Water and Environmental Research at the UDE. In FUTURE WATER he is interested in the evaluation of transformation products of oxidation processes in wastewater treatment together with Oliver Knoop in cooperation with Bernd Sures. Furthermore, he is the speaker of FUTURE WATER

Lotta Hohrenk is Ph.D. student in the department Instrumental Analytical Chemistry and FUTURE WATER member. She obtained her bachelor degree in environmental science at Leuphana University Lüneburg. During her bachelor thesis in the field of photocatalytic degradation processes of micropollutants she gained first insights into the area of water analysis. The master program Water Science at the University Duisburg-Essen gave her the opportunity to profound her knowledge in this area. In her Ph.D. thesis she is developing a non-target-screening method in order to analyse non-point sources of micropollutants.

Vanessa Wirzberger is Ph.D. student in the department Instrumental Analytical Chemistry and associated FUTURE WATER member. She obtained her bachelor degree in Bio Science and Health at the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Cleves. During her bachelor thesis in the field of Legionella sp. analysis with MALDI-TOF she gained first insights into the area of water analysis. In the master program Water Science at the University Duisburg-Essen she wrote her master thesis with the title „Detection of microplastics in Arctic deep-sea sediments by µFTIR spectroscopy“.

In her Ph.D. thesis she will investigate the mechanistic aspects and influence of matrix components in the oxidative water treatment.

Oliver Knoop has completed his Bachelor and Master in Water Science at the UDE. He has performed his bachelor thesis over the applicability of Microbial Fuel Cells for wastewater treatment at Bristol Robotics Laboratory (England) and his master thesis on the evaluation of a new ion source developed at Prof. Schmitz group at UDE.

Faculty of Engineering Sciences: Municipal Water and Waste Management

Municipal Water and Waste Management

The department of urban water management (working group Denecke) is focussing on the biology of environmental relevant systems, for example waste water treatment plants, biofilters and landfills. The main research goal is to measure the efficiency and composition of microbial biocenosis. Moreover, questions of environmental ethics and public acceptance are part of research and teaching.

Martin Denecke (Prof. Dr.) is working for more than 25 years in a sector that connects microbiology and engineering. He is investigating microbial systems in e.g. waste water treatment plants with the objective to improve planning, processing and efficiency. Since five years he is also incorporating social aspects of environmental conservation in his research and teaching. In FUTURE WATER Martin Denecke and his student Sonja Heldt will investigate problems of low public acceptance that are typical for some infrastructure measures.

Leon Netzel has studied geoecology at the Technical University of Brunswick (Bachelor degree) and has reached his master degree at the Technical University of Dresden where he has studied hydrology. For two years Mr. Netzel has worked as a research associate at the University of Applied Sciences in Mülheim an der Ruhr (Department Civil Engineering). Since the beginning of 2018, he is part of the NRW Forschungskolleg Future Water. His PhD project is about risk perception towards heavy rainfall events and the acceptance of multifunctional urban areas to store water after this rainfall events. This PhD project is very complex and interdisciplinary, therefore Mr. Netzel is situated at two departments: At the Institute for advanced study in the humanities (Essen) und at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Urban Water and Waste Management).

Sonja Heldt has her bachelor degree in Water Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen and thus got a good overview of chemical and microbiological processes in water and technical water resources management. In the Master course “Transnational ecosystem-based Water Management” this knowledge could be supplemented by ecological, social and economic aspects of river basin management. Her task in FUTURE WATER will be to study problems of public acceptance during the implementation if water infrastructure measures.

Faculty of Engineering Sciences: Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management

Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management

The Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing André Niemann deals with various issues relating to the theme of water. The employees deal with the management and use of water, protection against floods and the protection and the preservation of natural waters. Areas of interest here include the hydropower and water quality. For the education of students, the institute offers courses for national and international Bachelor and Master degree programs. The fundamentals and in-depth knowledge in the planning of hydraulic structures, hydraulics and sediment transport and water management concepts are taught.

to the website

André Niemann (Prof. Dr.-Ing.) heads the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management at the University of Duisburg-Essensince 2010. Previously, he worked for over ten years as an engineer in various management positions in a Germany-wide operating engineering office for water management (DAHLEM). There he was responsible for planning major projects, including the Emscher conversion, the biggest current water resources restoration project in Europe. His research interests at the University of Duisburg-Essen are particularly in the sustainable use of hydropower, the flood and water quality management and controlling the success of restoration measures.

Daniel Teschlade (civil engineer, M.Sc.) is PhD student in the department. He did his master in Civil Engineering at UDE in the specialization "Infrastructure and Environment". The focus of his studies were particularly given to the areas of hydraulic engineering and urban water management. In his doctoral thesis he examines effects of a series of transverse structures and hydropower plants and their cumulative impacts on diadromous and potamodrome fish populations.

Faculty of Social Sciences: Political Sciences and Public Administration

Nicolai Dose (Prof. Dr.)

Frederik Brandenstein

Faculty of Business Administration and Economics: Microeconomics

Erwin Amann (Prof. Dr.)

Faculty of Humanities: Philosophy

Hans-Werner Ingensiep (Prof. Dr.) has its research priorities in the theoretical and practical organic philosophy and anthropology. He also focuses on current and historical issues in the philosophy of nature, bio- and environmental ethics. In FUTURE WATER he supervises together with Martin Denecke Sonja Heldt in the project on acceptance problems in the implementation of measures in the field of water infrastructure.