Hi! I am John-Oliver Engler, postdoc at the lab since 2017. I do research in Ecological Economics and Quantitative Sustainability Science. My work often revolves around the theme of risk and uncertainty in human-environment systems in relation to sustainability. I am intrigued by quantitative methods in general, and frequently use some form of mathematical or statistical modeling. I aim at integrating theories from different fields, such as ecology and economics. I have a formal training in physics (MSc) and economics (PhD).

Professional record

2017 – Today: Postdoctoral Research Associate – Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Quantitative Methods of  Sustainability Science Group
2016: Pricing Actuary – BNP Paribas Cardif Germany, Stuttgart
2011 – 2015: Doctoral Research Associate – Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Sustainability Economics Group and Center for Methods

Education and research stays

2011 – 2015: Doctoral studies of sustainability economics at Leuphana University, with focus on rangeland management, decision theory and statistical model selection
2004 – 2010: Studies of physics at University of Konstanz (Germany), with focus on mathematical physics, econophysics and astrophysics

2017: Visiting researcher with Arizona State University: School of Sustainability,  School for the Future of Innovation in Society & Center for Biosocial  Complex  Systems – Tempe, AZ (USA), 1 month
2010: Intern with United States Geological Survey, Natural Resources Management – Homestead, FL (USA), 3 months
2009/10: Master’s thesis work at Chair of Entrepreneurial Risks, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich (Switzerland), 12 months
Intern with South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marine and Coastal Management – Cape Town (South Africa), 1 month
2007: Research Student with Institute for Astronomy – University of Hawaii, Maui, HI (USA), 5 months


Cristina Apetrei is a Ph.D. candidate investigating the role of knowledge in sustainability transformations. Her thematic experience is with food systems and climate change, while her theoretical and methodological interests are in complex system science, network analysis and (agent-based) modeling approaches, as well as transdisciplinarity and worldview-based inquiries. She was part of the Leverage Points project.

Hi, I am Philip Bernert. I hold a B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences and a M.Sc. in Sustainability Science from Leuphana University. I am currently working as a research associate in two projects at Leuphana: GLOCULL is an international collaboration between seven universities bringing together urban living labs focusing on sustainability innovations in the food-water-energy nexus. EEVA is a project, in which we developed a teaching module to support master students to develop theses based on the idea of transformative sustainability science. In my PhD project, I work on Real-World Experiments and Labs in the wider context of local economies.
Ruediger John
Hi I’m Esther Kohlhase. I have a B.Sc. in Business Psychology and a M.Sc. in Global Sustainability Science. I am part of the lab since April 2020 and work in the SUSTIL project, which deals with land use conflicts and governance mechanisms for sustainable land use. In my dissertation I focus on the local implementation of the Global Sustainability Goals. Specifically, I use GIS data to measure the progress and align stakeholders’ interests in a participatory process.

Dagmar Moelleken has a background in agricultural practice, and studied agroecology, philosophy and sustainability science. Her research interests include ethics, normativity and paradigms in relation to sustainable agriculture. Side projects include working on the methodology of transdisciplinary research.

Julius Rathgens’ PhD research is concerned with the production and consumption of food. Specifically, he does participatory research on alternative trade arrangements and their role in sustainability transformations. He is focusing on systematic literature reviews, social network analysis and mixed-methods.

Jennifer Rao-Williams


Birgit Gralla

Scientific and Student Assistants

Alexa Böckel finished her Bachelors in Business Administration and Environmental Sciences at Leuphana University and is interested in sustainable entrepreneurship and crowdfunding. She currently works on digitizing the processes and communication of the working group.

Josefine Böttner

Prabesh Dhakal is pursuing MSc. in Management & Data Science. He is interested in machine learning and visualization. Currently, he works with R and Python to solve data science problems. He also has experience in business strategy and management consulting.

Elli Frank

I am Christopher Franz, I hold a B.Sc. in Biogeosciences and a M.Sc. in Sustainability Science. I have been part of the team since 2017 as a student assistant and rejoined as a scientific assistant in the DIMOSCI project. Here, I am responsible for the 📖 Sustainability Methods Wiki and teaching related to methodology.

Hello there, I am Lisa Gotzian. I’ve earned my bachelor’s degree in Business Psychology and now combine this knowledge with a dive into methods, that is Data Science (soon to be M.Sc.) and statistics. The master’s program Data Science focusses on Machine Learning and ways to analyze Big Data. I’ve been working on an R package centered around word analysis of scientific papers and also work with python and other technical implementations.

Ricarda Hille

Max Kretschmer‘s motivation is to co-create ideas and visions to further develop approaches for a sustainable society with a socio-economic focus. His goal at university is to broaden his perspective, provided by his economic studies, with a cultural and environmental input to get an idea of society’s character and possibilities of changing it.

My name is Carlo Krügermeier and I am part of a team since September 2019. I am studying Environmental Sciences and Politcal Science in the 4th semester of the Bachelor. My projects were the statistics wiki and the Thinkathon and as those projects are ceasing, I am curious what comes next. Besides, I would love to learn more about R.

Here’s Chân Lê! I studied Business Administration at Kiel University of Applied Science, and am currently doing my M.Sc. in Data Science at Leuphana University Lüneburg. I joined the team at the beginning of 2020 and mainly focus on the Mathematical & Statistics tutorials for the Bechelor students.

Hi, I’m Matteo Ramin. I study Studium Individuale with a specific emphasis on how to transform educational systems. At the lab I mainly work on the “Skills & Tools” wiki and provide support in general digitalization adventures. My personal experience spans a bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences and work experience in IT management consulting, IT management as well as software development & testing.


Julian Ahlborn is a biogeographer and geobotanist interested in doing science for fun in general and dryland ecology with a focus on vegetation community and functional ecology in particular. He uses mixed modeling, univariate and multivariate statistics and remote sensing. Julian is currently pursuing his research interests by working on the DFG-funded project “Responses of plant performance and functional diversity along a climate and land-use gradient in Mongolia”.

Johann Julius Beeck already did his Bachelor’s program in Business Administration in Lüneburg. Since 2017, he studies Management & Data Science and focuses on data processing.

Christian Dorninger is a quantitative social scientist who is convinced that structures vastly determine individual action. He is focusing on taking a biophysical perspective on human-nature interaction and connectedness and their potential for sustainability transformation. Christian is applying material and energy flow accounting (MEFA), human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) and environmentally-extended input-output analysis (EEIOA). He is currently working on the project “Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation” funded by VolkswagenFoundation.

Robert Feller is an environmental scientist who investigates impacts of natural elements in urban spaces on customer’s willingness to pay for certain products. More generally, he is focusing on urban ecology and ecosystem service assessments by combining spatial analysis with online surveys. He is part of the project “Bridging the Great Divide” funded by VolkswagenStiftung.
  • 2017 - : Research associate in Bridging the Great Divide in Sustainability Science
  • 2013 - 2016: Sustainability Science, M. Sc., Leuphana University Lüneburg. Thesis on Business District Streetscapes, Trees and Consumer Response: A Case Study of Lüneburg, Germany.
  • 2010 - 2013: Environmental Science, B. Sc., Leuphana University Lüneburg. Thesis on Evaluating the potential of landscapes over structureswith ecological and other values on basis of the establishment of green roof systems in Lüneburg.
Ana Filipa Ferreira is a visiting student from Lisbon working on her PhD project on biosphere reserves. She is particularly interested in finding ways to protect biodiversity while promoting sustainable development in social-ecological systems in the Mediterranean. Ana Filipa currently focuses on using GIS, systematic literature reviews and questionnaires to find out more about the governance and management of protected areas and biosphere reserves.

Beatrice John is a sustainability scientist by training and conducts her PhD research on quality and design criteria for urban visioning exercises. Her research interests revolve around sustainability solutions for urban sustainability and resilience, transformational sustainability research methods, and digitalization of teaching and learning environments. She is also a research associate in the project ““Bridging the Great Divide” (MWK/VolkswagenStiftung) working on pretesting urban climate actions.
Anna-Lena Rau has a background in biology and sustainability science and does research on the sustainable use of ecosystem services. She is particularly interested in ecosystem services in agriculture and their temporal dynamics and is mostly applying systematic literature reviews. She is a PhD student with the 2042 initiative at Leuphana University.
Maraja Riechers is a human ecologist (Dr. in Urban Cultural Ecosystem Services) interested in finding ways to transform a system towards sustainability and biodiversity conservation. She is currently working on nature connectedness in different rural landscapes/ landscape changes in Germany and Romania in the project “Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation“.