News from the ZWU

Find out about current activities and news from the ZWU network.

New Collaboration!University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) Explores Collaborative Opportunities with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

April 2024

At a two-day kick-off meeting at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a distinguished interdisciplinary delegation from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) explored collaborative opportunities in genomics, structural biology, bioimaging, and particularly, water research. Representatives from UDE's ACTIVE SITES Research Center (ACSI), Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU), Center of Medical Biotechnology (ZMB) and the Research Center One Health Ruhr (OHR) met with counterparts from Berkeley Lab's divisions including the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division.
This meeting is the continuation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UDE and Berkeley Lab that has been established in 2022.  JGI Director Nigel Mouncey expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration's potential to advance scientific knowledge and tackle global challenges.
Discussions covered diverse topics including energy conversion, water treatment, and microbial ecology, with a focus on innovative methods to study active sites and single cells in aqueous environments. Tours of Berkeley Lab's national user facilities sparked intensive discussions about future collaborative projects, particularly in synchrotron infrared structural biology.
The prospect of expanding collaborations is highly exciting. Alexander Probst, who was the driving force behind the meeting, has now been appointed as an affiliate scientist at Berkeley Lab. The preparations for follow-up meetings, material exchanges, and research visits are already underway, with Berkeley Lab scientists scheduled to visit UDE in 2024 and 2025.
Participants included Alexander Probst, Stephan Barcikowski, Lydia Didt, Anzhela Galstyan, Shirley Knauer, Beate Krok, Oliver J. Schmitz, and Kathrin Thedieck from UDE, alongside Nigel Mouncey, Hoi-Ying Holman and Tanja Woyke, Lauren Belisario, Greg Hura, Jan Kern, Nikos Kyrpides, Trent Northen, Robert Kostecki, Susan Tsutakawa, Junko Yano, and Petrus Zwart from Berkeley Lab.


New project by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andre NiemannOperating reservoirs using AI

April 2024

Floods, droughts, heatwaves: Climate change poses increasing challenges for streamflow forecasting and reservoir management. Reservoirs play a crucial role in flood protection and during periods of drought. In order to adapt them to climate change, researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen are developing a prediction-based control system for reservoirs based on artificial intelligence. The PROWAVE project is being funded by the Bundesstiftung Umwelt with 348,000 euros over the next three years. 

The weather events caused by climate change are difficult to foresee and pose a major challenge for the operation of reservoirs and their catchment areas," explains Prof Dr André Niemann from the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE). "Until now, reservoirs have been managed by a series of river gauges. However, the decisions made on this basis are reactive and slow."

In the future, thanks to technological advances, artificial intelligence (AI) methods will support reservoir operators. To this end, special processes such as LSTM (Long Short-Term Memory) networks will enable efficient control strategies. This creates tools that utilise the increasing forecast information in a targeted manner. In combination with modern data analysis tools, they enable proactive control of water distribution systems based on reliable forecasts of water demand and water supply.

The aim of the project is to develop a prototype model for reservoir management and the supply of water for communities and ecosystems. In the long term, the researchers and their associated partners, the Ruhr- and Wupperverband, would like to use the prototype to achieve the transition to smart reservoir management that meets the requirements of climate change.

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© Bundesregierung/Kugler

Congratulations!Prof. Susanne Moebus is Co-Chair of the "Health and Resilience" Expert Council

March 2024

The aim of the new body is to protect the healthcare system and society from future health crises in the best possible way based on scientific research. Olaf Scholz welcomed the members of the Expert:innenrat to the inaugural meeting on 18 March 2024.

Prof Dr Susanne Moebus from Essen University Medicine has taken over the co-chairmanship of the new "Health and Resilience" Expert Council.

The head of the Institute for Urban Public Health at the University Medical Centre Essen, Prof. Dr Susanne Moebus, sees her appointment as co-chair of the Expert Council as a great opportunity for the further development of public health: "As a health scientist and epidemiologist, my focus is on the development of a public health strategy and thus the establishment of a modern public health system for Germany. Among other things, I am interested in how we can utilise and communicate the existing instruments from public health and health promotion as co-benefits for the upcoming challenges such as climate change and social inequality. We urgently need a modern healthcare system that is characterised by resilience, equity and a high degree of flexibility. At our Institute for Urban Public Health at the Essen University Medical Centre, we are conducting research into climate change and health, but also into new, more flexible methods of health reporting through wastewater monitoring. This also includes better acoustic quality in increasingly densely populated cities. I am very much looking forward to the intensive and interdisciplinary collaboration with renowned colleagues."


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© Andreas Schmitter/GDCh

Carl Duisberg Memorial PrizeAward for Prof. Corina Andronescu

March 2024

Professor Dr. Corina Andronescu receives the Carl Duisberg Memorial Prize this year. With this award, the German Chemical Society honors the 37-year-old scientist from the University of Duisburg-Essen for her impressive and comprehensive work in the field of technical chemistry. The prize money amounts to 7,500 euros, including 5,000 euros for the prize winner and 2,500 euros for her working group.

Professor Dr. Corina Andronescu is considered a pioneer in electrochemical catalysis, especially in the development of methods for the stable attachment of catalysts to electrodes. The selection committee of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) was impressed by the UDE professor's impressive overall package, which includes strong and innovative research performance, well-founded teaching activities, significant third-party funding, convincing leadership experience in groups and international experience. As spokesperson, she leads the "Natural Water to H2" profile development. The state of NRW is providing around three million euros in funding for the project, which focuses on the water quality that enables sustainable hydrogen production.

For the scientist, the prize means one thing above all: “The award is extremely important since it acknowledges not only my research activities but also the teaching related activities. This highly motivates me to further contribute to the catalyst and electrode development for energy conversion as well as thinking at how to better integrate the concepts developed in my research also in the teaching curricula.”

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Nature Water publication by Prof Dr Torsten C. SchmidtOn the trail of water pollution

March 2024

Drug residues, glyphosate in the fields or chemicals seeping into the groundwater from landfills: all of these scenarios threaten a safe water supply. An international research team, including scientists from the University of Duisburg-Essen, has summarised how contamination can be detected and subsequently better eliminated using substance-specific isotope analysis. The results were published in Nature Water. The project was led by TU Munich and EAWAG from Switzerland.

Stable isotopes are not only extremely useful in doping analyses, they also play a crucial role in identifying environmental pollution. Isotopes are variations of a chemical element with different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus. By analysing the isotope composition, researchers can not only determine the origins of pollutants in the environment, sometimes decades ago, but also assess which processes have altered the substances.  

In the article, the authors recommend the so-called substance-specific isotope analysis in three prototypical scenarios of water pollution. These include (1) point source pollution of groundwater (2) diffuse pollution of soils and surface waters by pesticides (3) reduction of pharmaceuticals and disinfection by-products in water treatment systems. "This method analyses the isotope ratio of elements, mostly carbon, in individual compounds that are extracted from complex environmental mixtures," explains Prof. Dr Torsten C. Schmidt from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE).

Schmidt's conclusion: "The investigations and example scenarios show that substance-dependent isotope analysis provides precise data where other methods reach their limits. We therefore recommend the method not only for environmental chemistry, but also for the authorisation and risk assessment of chemicals."

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New methods for biodiversity monitoring in Europe's riversUDE coordinates international 2-million-EUR-project

March 2024

New methods for biodiversity monitoring are a prerequisite for recognising changes at an early stage and thus protecting nature more effectively. This applies in particular to river ecosystems. The research project "DNAquaIMG: Innovative transnational aquatic biodiversity monitoring" uses high-throughput genetic analyses and automatic image recognition to improve the monitoring of biodiversity in rivers. The inter- and transdisciplinary project of the working group led by
Prof. Florian Leese of the University of Duisburg-Essen contributes to a better understanding of biodiversity change in Europe and provides new impetus with its international appeal.

Biodiversity change in Europe is becoming increasingly evident. Against this background, the research project "DNAquaIMG: Innovative transnational aquatic biodiversity monitoring" opens up a new perspective: the inter- and transdisciplinary project aims to better understand the profound biodiversity change in Europe in its complexity and to monitor it more systematically. Project leader Prof. Dr Florian Leese from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) will bring together the leading international expertise in the development and implementation of high-throughput molecular and automated image recognition methods for monitoring biodiversity in Europe's rivers in the international consortium with 14 partners from eleven European countries. The combination of the two complementary approaches offers advantages for the assessment of biodiversity in the context of ecosystem degradation and restoration: As with DNA fingerprinting in forensics, genetic methods enable more accurate detection and description of biodiversity, even for microscopic organisms. This accuracy is often not possible with automatic image recognition, but it can provide very reliable data on the abundance, size and biomass of species. In combination, these complementary approaches of DNA fingerprinting and automatic image recognition offer the opportunity to significantly expand biodiversity data from environmental samples. The scientists of the international research project plan to largely automate both approaches and provide so-called 'FAIR data' on biodiversity, i.e. findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable data.

The research project focusses on identifying new targets for biodiversity indicators in this way. Based on the project results, the scientists plan to develop a strategy for improved transnational monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystem change to support the implementation of the European Green Deal, in particular the European Biodiversity Strategy, and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

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© UDE/Beate Krok

Supporting Early Career Researchers in Water ResearchWater Science Alliance under New Leadership

February 2024

In the past year, the Water Science Alliance successfully relocated its headquarters to the Center for Water and Environmental Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, having previously been based at the Dresden University of Technology. Under the leadership of the newly elected co-chairs, Prof. Dr. Martina Flörke from Ruhr-University Bochum and Prof. Dr. Florian Leese from the University of Duisburg-Essen, the German Water Research Alliance has secured a funding of 100,000 euros for the support of young researchers from the Bernhard and Ursula Plettner-Foundation.

"With the funds raised from the Bernhard and Ursula Plettner-Foundation, we aim to establish a 'WSA Career Navigator' for young researchers in the complex water research landscape," explains Prof. Dr. Florian Leese from the University of Duisburg-Essen. "Through the navigator, researchers can broaden their horizons by participating in conferences, organizing or attending workshops, or receiving individual mentoring from renowned members of the WSA," adds the expert in aquatic ecosystem research at UDE.

The "WSA Career Navigator" will support young scientists over a period of five years in the following three key areas:

1. Vocational Education & Training: Financial support for travel expenses and/or fees related to relevant conferences, workshops, and internships to expand vocational training and gain new insights for professional development.

2. Communication & Networking Activities: Organization of brainstorming sessions on interdisciplinary water research topics, publication or proposal ideas. Additionally, participation in WSA events, including free attendance at the annual Water Research Horizon Conference and/or "WSA Lectures," will be promoted.

3. Career Planning: Support for individual career planning in water research through counseling and/or mentoring by renowned and experienced members of the WSA and/or their network

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Congratulations!Minister Brandes opens FutureLab.NRW

February 2024

A digital model laboratory for the analytics of the future: On February 19th, NRW Minister for Culture and Science Ina Brandes opened the FutureLab.NRW at the Institute for Environment and Energy, Technology and Analytics, an affiliated institute of the University of Duisburg-Essen, in front of over 100 guests from business and science. The member of the Johannes Rau Research Association is thus strengthening its expertise in the fields of chemical analysis, automation and digitalisation.

The FutureLab.NRW is open to technology developers and users in order to increase the automation of laboratory systems: "Our aim is to combine isolated laboratory systems, which are already highly automated in themselves, into a communicating and interacting overall system and at the same time link them with the building peripherals and building technology," explains Dr. Thorsten Teutenberg, Department Head of the FutureLab.NRW and the main person responsible for realising the project.

At the opening, it became clear that FutureLab.NRW strengthens the potential of the state of NRW. Minister Ina Brandes said: "Cutting-edge research 'made in NRW' makes an important contribution to tackling the major challenges of our time. Bright minds are working at our universities and research institutions to make people's lives better. With the FutureLab, we are building a bridge to companies in the region and thus making the transfer of science into application easier and faster. In this way, we are strengthening North Rhine-Westphalia as a centre of science and business."

FutureLab.NRW is funded by the NRW Research Infrastructures Initiative to promote research and innovation potential and by the European Regional Development Fund (EFRE).

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© UDE/Frank Preuß

Congratulations!MERCUR funding for Junior Professor Dr. Anzhela Galstyan

February 2024

The project: "Development of new photosensitisers for photocatalytic disinfection" by Junior Professor Dr. Anzhela Galstyan and Dr. Johannes Karges is being funded by MERCUR.

In its current call for proposals, the Mercator Research Centre Ruhr (MERCUR) has approved over 840,000 euros for cooperative research projects within the University Alliance Ruhr (UA Ruhr): The UDE is involved in all projects.

The project by Junior Professor Dr. Anzhela Galstyan and Dr. Johannes Karges is based on the assumption that the application of antimicrobial photodynamic therapy (PDT) can be used to disinfect water. The chemists from the UDE and RUB hope that this will help to combat the spread of antibiotic resistance.

ZWU Project Natural Water to Hydrogen Kickoff

February 2024

The kick-off of the "Natural Water to Hydrogen" project took place successfully on February 5th. Keynotes were held in front of a total of 42 participants and lively discussions ensued.

We would like to thank all participants for this great kickoff event!

Clativate Analytics (Web of Science) identifies the most influential researchers of the yearHighly cited researcher 2023

February 2024

Every year, the information service provider Clarivate Analytics identifies the most influential publications across 20 fields. Researchers who have ranked in the top 1% of citations for their fields and year of publication in the Web of Science over the last ten years are included in the list of Highly Cited Researchers.

According to the current list of “Highly Cited Researchers 2023”, two ZWU members are among the most frequently cited researchers in the world:

Prof.'in Dr.-Ing. Martina Flörke (Hydrology and Water Resources Management, RUB)

Learn more: Author Profile Web of Science

Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst (Environmental Metagenomics, Research Center One Health Ruhr)

Learn more: Author Profile Web of Science

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New Publication!New research results from the Senckenberg Institute

February 2024

An international research team, including UDE Professor Dr Peter Haase, has studied rivers in 23 European countries. Using invertebrates from 1,365 locations, the researchers were able to show for the first time how the ecological quality of rivers changed each year between 1992 and 2019. Although the overall quality has increased, it has stagnated since around 2010. The results have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

It is the first overview of ecological water quality for Europe. It was compiled by the team led by lead author Dr James Sinclair (Senckenberg) and Prof Peter Haase (Senckenberg/UDE).

In order to assess the man-made effects, the team first analysed data over time. This enabled them to understand how the communities of invertebrates living in rivers have changed compared to their initial conditions. In a second step, the researchers correlated the ecological quality determined with common indicators - frequency or diversity of species or composition of faunal communities - as well as with common biomonitoring indices that reflect the occurrence of sensitive species.

According to the current study, ecological quality generally increased from the 1990s to 2010, "as did the number of sensitive species, which indicates less anthropogenic impact - but this positive trend came to a halt around 2010," says Sinclair. "The necessary 'good' ecological status - as stipulated in the EU Water Framework Directive - has also not yet been achieved on average."

The improved water quality is probably due to European measures that were increasingly introduced from the 1980s onwards, such as improved wastewater treatment. However, the authors attribute the stagnating quality from 2010 onwards to old and new stress factors, including pollution and habitat changes, climate change or exposure to new types of pesticides or pharmaceuticals.

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© UDE/Frank Preuß

First success in the Excellence Strategy competitionWater research reaches milestone

February 2024

Within the framework of the University Alliance Ruhr, the three universities in Duisburg-Essen, Dortmund and Bochum jointly advanced their research strategically, for example by establishing the joint Research Center One Health Ruhr. The University of Duisburg-Essen and its partner universities’ excellent water research is part of this Research Center and has now prevailed in the first round of the two-stage competition as part of the Excellence Strategy from the federal and state governments with the research project ‘REASONS – river ecosystems in the anthropocene, sustainable scientific solutions’. A panel of international experts from the German Science and Humanities Council and the German Research Foundation (DFG) has today encouraged the University of Duisburg-Essen to submit a full proposal for the planned REASONS Cluster of Excellence. In view of the large field of high-calibre competitors, with 143 draft proposals submitted, this constitutes a strong confirmation of the University of Duisburg-Essen’s first-class international research.

Rising temperatures, antibiotic residues, droughts and flooding: worldwide, rivers are increasingly under pressure. To prepare them for the challenges of the future, researchers from the proposed Cluster of Excellence REASONS are developing a new, sustainable concept for the management of freshwater ecosystems. The interdisciplinary research team is led by Prof Dr Bernd Sures (UDE), Prof Dr Torsten Claus Schmidt (UDE) and Prof Dr Martina Flörke (Ruhr-Universität Bochum).

Using new measurement and analysis methods, the REASONS water experts are investigating the basis for sustainable river management that integrates stressors such as climate change, environmental pollution and changes in biodiversity. A striking novelty of this approach is the fact that it places the changing system at the centre, identifying innovative ways of dealing with sometimes irreversible changes to freshwater ecosystems.

The University of Duisburg-Essen has prioritised water research in a way that is unique in Germany. Researchers from the disciplines of biology, chemistry, medicine, engineering as well as from the humanities and social sciences have built an excellent interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation over the past two decades. In addition, specific degree programmes and the Water Graduate School for early career researchers provide a superb structure for top researchers in the early stages of their professional trajectory.

The REASONS excellence project emerged from the established network of the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Center for Water and Environmental Research with partners at Ruhr University Bochum, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, the University of Marburg, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research.

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New Publication!NatureWater Publication of the AG Schmidt

January 2024

Together with colleagues, Prof Dr Torsten C. Schmidt (AG IAC, UDE) and his team have published an article on the fate of organic pollutants in the environment. The article has been published in Nature Water under the title: "Perspectives of compound-specific isotope analysis of organic contaminants for assessing environmental fate and managing chemical pollution".

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© Marie Anne Forio/Ghent University

New Publication for Christian Schürings!How Does Agriculture Affect Freshwaters?

January 2024

Agriculture secures our food supply and is an important economic factor. However, it also leaves its mark on the environment, such as in soils, groundwater, and biodiversity. An international research team led by the UDE has investigated how different types and intensities of agriculture affect the ecological status of rivers in Europe. The study has just been published in the journal Water Research.

The figures are alarming: Not even ten percent of rivers in Germany are in a good, near-natural state; in Europe, it is around 40 percent (see figure). As the largest land use categories, agriculture is considered partly responsible for this situation. Is that justified?

To answer this question, the research team, led by UDE scientist Christian Schürings, analysed data on agricultural land use for 27 European countries. This was linked to data on the ecological status of flowing waters, including streams, but also large rivers such as the Ruhr, Rhine, and Scheldt. 

The result: The type of agriculture strongly influences the condition of rivers. "Intensive farming has the greatest impact," says Schürings. The expert in aquatic ecology is the lead author of the study. "This includes irrigated agriculture, as practised in Southern Europe, for example in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and the intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers on land in Western Europe. This is particularly common in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK."

The situation is different with less intensive types of agriculture: According to the study, they have little to no negative impact on the ecological status. This is because the cultivated areas are small-scale, fertilizers and crop protection products are used more sparingly, and hedges and flower strips are planted for increased biodiversity. 

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Follow us!We are on LinkedIn!

January 2024

You can now find the ZWU on LinkedIn!

We look forward to building a large network and keeping you up to date.

Feel free to visit the ZWU account!

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© Dorothea Tuch

Join us!ZWU Members at the Market for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge

January 2024

Rivers are mythical places of transition and change. People have always been attracted to them, settlements have been founded on their banks and trade routes have been determined by them. The Mülheim "Market for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge" brings together 90 experts who share their knowledge on various topics relating to the Ruhr, Rhine and Emscher, global water cycles, climate change and ecology in 190 one-to-one talks. Under the title "River without banks", the market is also reminiscent of stories and mythologies in which the river symbolises the moment of transition and constant change.

The "Market for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge" is a place of knowledge transfer, archive and reading room, stock exchange and advice centre all in one. The project of the Mobile Academy Berlin has been touring the world for twenty years and can now be experienced in NRW for the first time.

The event will take place on February 03, 2024 at 7 pm in the Mülheim Stadthalle.

Participants from the ZWU network this year are:

Kamil Hupalo - AG Aquatic Ecosystem Research
Beate Krok - ZWU
Sebastian Prati - AG Aquatic Ecology
Markus Quirmbach - Urban Water Management, Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering
Torsten C. Schmidt - WG Instrumental Analytical Chemistry
Robin Schütz - AG Aquatic Ecosystem Research

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Seasons GreetingsHappy Holidays and all the best for 2024!

December 2023 

We wish you, your families and colleagues a merry christmas and all the best for a healthy, happy and peaceful new year!

We look forward to seeing you again in the new year.

Your ZWU Team

Forward-looking research projectFreiheit Emscher Entwicklungsgesellschaft establishes a strong alliance for the Welheimer WasserMark real-world laboratory campus in Bottrop

December 2023 

Memorandum of Understanding unites land development and science - first step in the pilot project on the topic of valuable water in the Freiheit Emscher planning area.

With the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the "Development of a programmatic and spatial-functional site concept for the Welheimer WasserMark real-world laboratory campus" today, 20 December 2023,

the Freiheit Emscher Entwicklungsgesellschaft (FEEG),

the cities of Bottrop and Essen,

RAG Montan Immobilien,

the Emschergenossenschaft (EGLV),

the Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) at the University of Duisburg Essen and

the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT from Oberhausen

have agreed on the first steps towards transforming the former Welheimer Mark mining site in Bottrop into the Welheimer WasserMark (WWM) real-world laboratory campus. In future, research and work will be carried out here on the innovative use of water as a resource, including on the topics of wastewater/drinking water/recycled water.

Science and business nexus

The WWM pilot project is one of a total of five components of the "Nexus Science and Industry" strategy in the inter-municipal area development project Freiheit Emscher between Essen and Bottrop. The fundamental aim of this strategy is to encourage the establishment of science-related industrial and commercial companies by creating "centres of attraction" characterised by research.

This is primarily about synergies: The companies benefit from the scientific input that is generated directly at the location. The research itself has direct links to practical applications.

MoU: Location concept for the Welheimer Mark in Bottrop in two stages by the end of 2025
In the MoU that has now been signed, the partners agree to develop a joint site concept for the Welheimer Mark area north of the Bottrop wastewater treatment plant over the next two years.

The concept will lay the "foundation stone" for the planned Welheimer WasserMark real-world laboratory campus in terms of both content and space. The common goal of all those involved is to develop a nucleus in which future technologies in the field of water are researched, further developed and brought to market maturity in real-world laboratories directly on site. A central vision for the real-world laboratory campus: the conversion of wastewater into valuable water, whose energy potential from residual heat and sewage sludge as well as the resource potential is systematically utilised. The joint declaration provides for realistic financing and operating models for the Welheimer Mark to be developed in a first interim step by June 2024. Planning and infrastructural measures for the realisation and feasibility of the real-world laboratory campus are to be initiated by December 2025.

Forward-looking research projects on the topic of valuable water

In line with the Nexus' aim of consistently combining research and practice, the signatories also include two renowned knowledge and research institutions in the region: the Centre for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) at the University of Duisburg Essen, the largest interdisciplinary water research location in NRW, and the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT are planning to develop and carry out joint research activities on the ReallaborCampus together with the Emschergenossenschaft (EGLV). EGLV operates the Bottrop wastewater treatment plant, which has already been converted into a pioneering wastewater power plant over the past decade. Possible joint research focuses could include topics such as resource-oriented wastewater management, digitalisation and AI in environmental monitoring, urban biodiversity and urban agriculture.

"The ReallaborCampus, with its enormous scientific ambition and thematic focus on the area of valuable water, contributes 100 per cent to the overarching programme of Freiheit Emscher: the development of the green industrial city of the future. At the same time, concrete development impulses will be set for the Welheimer Mark area, combined with an image change for existing structures in the cities of Bottrop and Essen, from which the entire Ruhr region and not least local residents will benefit," emphasised Gernot Pahlen, Managing Director of Freiheit Emscher Entwicklungsgesellschaft (FEEG), today on the occasion of the signing of the letter of intent at the Zollverein coking plant in Essen, where FEEG's offices are located.


Under the umbrella brand Freiheit Emscher, a planning area totalling 1,700 hectares will be developed into the green industrial city of the future in the coming years, combined with the creation of modern, sustainable jobs, particularly in knowledge-based industrial and commercial companies. The infrastructural development of the former Emil Emscher, Coelln-Neuessen harbour, Sturmshof, Welheimer Mark and Prosper II mining sites in Essen and Bottrop is intended to comprehensively urbanise the project area.

The project area is to be comprehensively upgraded in terms of urban development, transport and ecology. The plans also incorporate existing residential and commercial areas as well as important regional infrastructure and green spaces. Freiheit Emscher Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (FEEG) has been responsible for the development and marketing of the former mining areas since 2023. The Freiheit Emscher project is supported by funds from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the federal government and the EU.

© your_captain_luchtfotografie-irvin_van_hemert

Final vote of the EU Parliament in early 2024 How could Europe restore its nature?

December 2023 

Early 2024, the European Parliament will take a final vote on the ‘Nature Restoration Law’ (NRL), a globally unique but hotly debated regulation that aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss in Europe. An international team of scientists led by the University of Duisburg-Essen investigated the prospects of the new regulation. The article will be published on 15 December in the Science Magazine.

The ‘Nature Restoration Law’ (NRL) requires member states of the EU to implement restoration measures on at least 20 per cent of land and marine areas by 2030, and in all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. This includes specific targets to rewet peatlands and to increase pollinator populations. The NRL has already overcome various hurdles: most recently, it was approved by the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee, after delegations of the Parliament and the Council of Europe negotiated the final text.

But will the regulation really achieve its aims, considering a multitude of changes included in the negotiation process? The authors, including scientists leading large European projects on nature restoration and biodiversity, analysed experiences with other European environmental directives and policies, and evaluated the prospects of the NRL to be successful. 

“The NRL avoids several pitfalls that often obstruct the implementation of European policies and regulations, showing that the Commission learned from past experiences” says Daniel Hering from the University of Duisburg-Essen, first author of the study. “The regulation sets ambitious targets and timelines, and implementation steps are clearly laid out. It also saves time as it does not need to be transposed into national law.” At the same time, national implementation will be crucial for the NRL’s success. “While targets are precisely defined and binding, the steps to achieve them need to be decided by individual European countries and most of them are voluntary” says Josef Settele from Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research UFZ in Halle, one of the study’s authors.

Key to the implementation will be the cooperation of nature restoration with land users, in particular with agriculture. “Intensive agriculture is still a key driver for biodiversity loss in Europe”, says senior author Guy Pe’er. “But targets for agriculture and nature restoration could be coordinated, with opportunities for both”. Agriculture directly benefits from healthy soils and pollinator populations and from increased water storage capacity in the landscape that are all targets of the NRL. The authors conclude that funds provided by the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy need to be used for achieving the NRL’s aims: a statement to be intensively debated in science and application.

Overall, the authors provide a positive outlook for the NRL, but warn that ambitious national implementation and cooperation with economic sectors, such as agriculture, will eventually determine the success of nature restoration in Europe.

The NRL is part of the Green Deal and aims to contribute significantly to the attainment of both the EU's climate targets and the international biodiversity agreement of Kunming-Montreal. This global accord stipulates the restoration of a minimum of 30 percent of degraded ecosystems. Given that over 80 percent of habitats in the EU are currently in a state of degradation, the NRL represents a crucial leap forward in addressing this environmental challenge.

The authorship of the paper includes the coordinators of the projects MERLIN, WaterLANDS, SUPERB and REST-COAST that are all funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme under the topic "Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services" (LC-GD-7-1-2020).

To the Paper...
Helmut Schuhmacher in conversation with the current King of the Netherlands, Willem Alexander, at the event to mark the founding of the "Transnational Water Management" degree programme

In mourning for Prof Dr Helmut SchuhmacherObituary for Prof Dr Helmut Schuhmacher

December 2023 

It is with deep regret that we bid farewell to Helmut Schuhmacher, who held the Chair of Hydrobiology at the University of Duisburg-Essen and its predecessor institutions from 1982 to 2005.

Helmut Schuhmacher was a passionate limnologist, but also an enthusiastic marine biologist. After working on hoverflies during his state examination in Heidelberg and on caddisflies of running waters in his dissertation, he turned his attention to the development of coral reefs in the Red Sea in his habilitation at the Ruhr University Bochum.
In his subsequent career, he made significant contributions in both areas of research. Together with colleagues such as Tobias Timm, Mario Sommerhäuser and Petra Podraza, he established water typology in Germany - a scientific field that is still used intensively in water management today. In the field of marine biology, his work on small-scale changes in coral reef communities in the Red Sea over a period of several decades and his research on artificial reefs will be remembered above all. He was supported by Peter van Treeck, Götz Reinicke, Markus Paster and Michael Eisinger. Many international coral researchers will remember Helmut Schuhmacher as the father of coral reef research in the Red Sea and as the "German coral pope".

At the University of Essen, which later became the University of Duisburg-Essen, Helmut Schuhmacher headed the Institute of Ecology for many years and worked closely with climatologists and soil scientists. He trained environmental scientists and ecologists for decades. The discontinuation of the Ecology degree programme at the University of Essen in 2002 hit him hard personally. However, shortly afterwards, together with Prof. Toine Smits from Radboud University in Nijmegen, he established the binational degree programme "Transnational ecosystem-based Water Management", which continued to train experts in ecological water management for almost two decades after Helmut Schuhmacher's retirement.

Helmut Schuhmacher shaped an entire generation of limnologists and marine biologists. His former employees now work in universities, museums, water organisations, planning offices and ministries throughout Germany. Helmut Schuhmacher established a modern management style with plenty of room for manoeuvre for his employees back in the 1990s. As a result, the Department of Hydrobiology grew rapidly and became one of the most important research centres for hydrology in Germany. After Helmut Schuhmacher's retirement, the department was taken over and further expanded by Prof Dr Bernd Sures, now under the name Aquatic Ecology. The former Department of Hydrobiology was thus the nucleus for the current aquatic focus of the faculty and university.

Helmut Schuhmacher established a very broad spectrum of aquatic science courses. His lectures on limnology and marine biology will probably be vividly remembered by all those who had the honour of attending them. He had the gift of being able to convey the way of life of aquatic organisms very vividly and sometimes also demonstrate them practically. He was able to inspire many students, especially on the marine biology excursions to Corsica, Denmark and Egypt.

Today's output-orientated academic world was not his cup of tea, even if he did allow his employees to participate in it. He himself, on the other hand, preferred to think things over twice before publishing them. His very pleasant, friendly and polite manner characterised his environment and the entire faculty.
Even after his retirement, he remained closely associated with his former department.
Helmut Schuhmacher died on 21 November 2023 in Dannenberg.

Start-up with origins in aquatic ecologyVisiting the Rheingarnelen

November 2023 

We recently paid a visit to Rheingarnelen GmbH.
Started as a start-up project within the Aquatic Ecology department at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Timon Orths and Jannik Handl have set up their own business with a unique idea. The EXIST start-up grant and subsequently the NRW start-up grant provided initial support.

Rheingarnelen GmbH has set itself the task of breeding aquarium animals in Germany as sustainably as possible, with a focus on Amano shrimps. In addition to Amano shrimps (Caridina multidentata), Rheingarnelen also breeds small colorful Neocaridina shrimps, guinea fowl danios (Danio margaritatus), Haroldo's ear lattice catfish (Parotocinclus haroldoi) and "Yoda snails" (Lymnaea stagnalis). As a growing start-up, they are also planning and testing many other species in the most sustainable breeding possible.

Amano shrimps are very popular in the aquarium hobby, but have a special feature compared to other shrimp species: The larvae can only survive for a few days in freshwater and need seawater and plankton to develop. This has made the breeding of Amano shrimps difficult up to now, which is why they have been imported in large quantities from Asia for European demand, including high CO2 emissions.

Rheingarnelen has developed an ingenious system to enable the larvae to grow up in seawater. They are fed with self-cultivated microalgae instead of algae powder. Larvae grow in different stages of development in various "pools", while the parent animals can remain in fresh water - and all this in an area of over 300m2 on the grounds of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex.

Timon Orths cheerfully describes the idea of sustainably breeding shrimps as "pure madness", as they also had to familiarize themselves with many of the processes involved in setting up their own business and process optimization and sustainability were and still are a constant topic for them. Rheingarnelen also pays attention to sustainability in more ways than just the breeding itself; for example, they have entered into a cooperation with "Trees for the Future", which plants a tree in their projects for every Amano shrimp purchased. Styrofoam is not used in the packaging and they obtain the electricity they need from 100% ecological sources.

It was a very instructive and impressive visit, during which we were able to see how one idea gave rise to many actions, always with the aim of using our resources as sustainably as possible and offering a regional alternative to global imports.

To the Rheingarnelen...
© UDE/Fabian Strauch

New professorship for Dr. Sonja RückertWater profile area gets reinforcement

November 2023 

What do symbiotic relationships under water look like in times of climate change? How much are they changing?

Dr. Sonja Rückert, new Professor of Eukaryotic Microbiology at the Faculty of Biology at the UDE, is investigating this in freshwater and in the sea. She is strengthening the profile focus on water research and cooperating with the Center for Environmental and Water Research.

"With its profile focus, the UDE is the ideal location for me," says Prof. Dr. Sonja Rückert. In early summer, she spent several weeks in the Arctic on the Alfred Wegener Institute's research vessel "Polarstern", studying invertebrate organisms on unicellular eukaryotes (protists) at the bottom of the deep sea. Protists can serve as indicators to assess the ecological status of a body of water.

Back on land, the professor at the Essen campus will determine unicellular, parasitic eukaryotes morphologically and molecularly. The focus is on the so-called gregarines, which adhere to the intestines or body cavities of invertebrates such as stag beetles or annelids outside the cell. Whether their hosts live in water or on land has no influence on their function. "The influence that gregarines exert on them can be positive, negative or ineffective. They are therefore ideal for learning more about the evolution of intracellular parasitism in the Apicomplexa group, which also includes the malaria pathogen Plasmodium," says the 47-year-old.

Rückert considers the parasites to be important in the energy flow of our ecosystem. "They are an often neglected part of the food chain. We need to understand how climate change affects the parasites and therefore also their hosts and entire food webs. Only then can we develop strategies to preserve populations." To this end, she is investigating the health of the host in the aquatic environment under climate change.

Find out more...

Congratulations!EGLV wins the German Sustainability Award 2024

November 2023 

Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband (EGLV) are winners of the German Sustainability Award 2024, Europe's largest award for ecological and social commitment. The associations, together the largest operators of sewage treatment plants and pumping stations in Germany, received the award in the Company category for the water management sector.

The expert jury was particularly impressed by the achievements in ecological water and floodplain development and increasing biodiversity. The commitment to water-conscious urban development and the restoration of the natural water cycle, the demand-oriented economic management of sewers and wastewater treatment plants as well as the numerous projects on the way to climate-neutral company operations were also included in the jury's decision.

The German Sustainability Award will be officially presented on November 23 in Düsseldorf.

Find out more...

New "WBEready" research projectWastewater-based epidemiology

November 2023 

A research consortium consisting of urban water management, data science, basic medical research and public health as well as the Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband (EGLV) will create a concrete system for the implementation of wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) for various diseases in order to be able to react more quickly to any pandemics that may occur in the future. "WBEready" is funded by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).

Wastewater-based epidemiology enables regional monitoring and thus complements individual testing for the detection of disease outbreaks. To ensure that the data can be evaluated in a targeted and user-oriented manner, the Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and the Institute for Urban Public Health at the University Medical Center Essen will coordinate with the public health service, set up a needs-based data infrastructure and carry out analyses of temporal and spatial differences in the pathogen burden according to demographic and socio-economic aspects.

The interdisciplinary consortium aims to develop and set up a practice-oriented system that will enable rapid wastewater monitoring in the future.

Find out more...
© scharfsinn86 -

New discovery by Dr. Kai S. ExnerNew mechanism for oxygen gas development

November 2023 

His theoretical modeling combines organic chemistry and electrochemistry: Prof. Dr. Kai S. Exner has analysed oxygen gas evolution, which limits the efficiency of hydrogen production by electrolysis. He was able to show for the first time that highly active catalysts in particular follow a specific reaction mechanism that had not previously been taken into account in theoretical modeling. He published his findings in the renowned journal Advanced Science.

Find out more...
© Archaen Park

Funding for Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst!11.5 million euros to research into the microbial carbon cycle

October 2023 

A team of researchers from the Universities of Münster, Bremen and Duisburg-Essen, and from the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam, has been awarded a prestigious grant from the European Research Council (ERC) – an ERC Synergy Grant, worth a total of 11.5 million euros. The researchers’ aim in the Archean Park project, which is set to run for six years, is to gain insights into life as it existed under primeval conditions and to discover unknown metabolic pathways which enabled microorganisms to live on the early Earth 4,000 to 2,500 million years ago. 2.56 million euros of the funding will be provided to the UDE.

The team consits of microbiologist Prof. Ivan Berg (University of Münster), biogeochemist Prof. Kai-Uwe Hinrichs (MARUM – Research Faculty of the University of Bremen), microbiologist and bioinformatics specialist Prof. Alexander Probst (UDE) and geomicrobiologist Dr. Jens Kallmeyer (GFZ Potsdam).

The work being planned is basic research, aiming at new insights into the microbial carbon cycle. The results of the research can also stimulate biotechnological and geotechnical innovations which might be used in the production of biomass, using microorganisms, or in considering possibilities for storing surplus carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Find out more...
© Sarah Eßer

New Publication!Virus route detected

October 2023 

UDE environmental microbiologist Dr. Janina Rahlff and an international team were able to understand for the first time how microbes spread through the natural water cycle. Their results can be found in the current issue of Nature Communications. Janina Rahlff is a former member of the UDE Chair of Environmental Metagenomics.

Microbes move back and forth between the marine and atmospheric ecosystems, i.e. the sea as well as air and precipitation. Until now, however, evidence of cycling for microbial dispersal has been lacking. UDE biologist Dr. Janina Rahlff and colleagues from Germany and Italy have now succeeded in doing so. The researchers spent four weeks in Tjärnö, Sweden, collecting seawater, sea surface film and foam, as well as near-bottom aerosols and rain. Using metagenomic studies, they found identical viruses in all the ecosystems studied. "In addition, we were able to track an exemplary virus genome by its mutation patterns and thus trace its path along the natural water cycle," Rahlff explains.

The findings can help to better assess the emergence and spread of new viruses. Dr. Janina Rahlff recently began pursuing her research at the University of Jena. "I am particularly interested in where the virus population with the high GC bases comes from and under which conditions it occurs. Also, because heavy rainfall will increase with climate change here in northern Europe, it seems important to me to know who or what is actually raining down on us all the time.

To the Publication...

Funding for ZWU project!Minister Brandes presents funding notification to University of Duisburg-Essen

October 2023 

NRW Science Minister Ina Brandes today presented a three-million-euro grant to Jun.-Prof. Dr. Corina Andronescu for the "Natural Water to H2" project in Düsseldorf. With this research project, the University of Duisburg-Essen aims to achieve a breakthrough for more sustainability in hydrogen production. To this end, the nanosciences and water research departments of the University of Duisburg-Essen are joining forces. The Ministry of Culture and Science is funding the project as part of NRW's Profile Development 2022.

To the Publication...

New Publication!Publication of the PhD students of the IRTG RESIST

October 2023 

A recent article for the journal "Frontiers For Young Minds" explains to students the multiple stressors in rivers. The article was an initiative of PhD students of IRTG RESIST to communicate scientific results to a younger, broader audience.

To the Publication...
© UDE/Juliana Fischer

Water Research at the UDE!Nadia Samak fights for clean ground water

October 2023 

Biochemist Dr. Nadia Samak wants to use microbes as a biological mechanism to break down toxic compounds in groundwater. A challenging environment because there is no oxygen at the depth of the groundwater, so the microbes have to function in an anaerobic environment.

‘Groundwater pollution is a massive problem. It is the basis for our drinking water and as such, clean groundwater is the foundation for the health of all species’, says Nadia Samak. Yet, through oil spill or industrial waste, groundwater gets contaminated. One of the toxic compounds that get into our groundwater are so called Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). They are used, for example, in the production of PVC plasticisers. So far, there are mainly chemical processes with which the substances can be degraded. But these have a negative side effects on the species that live in the affected ecosystem.

What if bacteria could ‘eat and digest’ this waste? Certain bacteria that produce certain enzymes that break down pollutants are already being used in order to clean up the ocean from microplastic in small projects. ‘However, applying bacteria and their enzymes to the groundwater, where no oxygen is present, is more difficult’ explains Samak. ‘I want to find out, how the microbes can degrade toxic compound in the anaerobic environment’ she adds. So, reduction instead of oxidation will be the key chemical reaction’. In order to find microbes that produce the perfect enzymes for degrading waste, the biologist uses genetic engineering tools to identify the responsible genes for producing PAHs degrading biocatalysts. The cloning and heterologous expression of these genes in a fast-growing organism such as E. col can help to produce the potential biocatalysts overnight and use them for the degradation of PAHs.    

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The ZWU team was there!Fire Salamander Day at the Zoo

September 2023 

As part of the first Day of Honor of the Fire Salamander, information about the amphibian species and its threat was provided at an information booth in the Tierpark Bochum

Dr. Maximilian Schweinsberg from the ZWU team was on site and informed the visitors about the current state of scientific research on the fire salamander.

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© Wael Ali (DTNW)

New DFG-ProjectHow do flame retardants affect textiles?

August 2023 

In order to be able to produce safer flame retardants in the future, Prof. Dr. Burak Atakan from the Chair of Thermodynamics at UDE is investigating their mode of action together with the German Textile Research Center North-West (DTNW), an affiliated institute of the UDE. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project for the next few years with approximately 612,000 euros.

Flame retardants are used to prevent or delay the spread of fire through highly flammable textiles. However, many of these are harmful to the environment and pose a health risk. Environmentally compatible alternatives are still being sought. "To do this, we first need to better understand the mechanism of action of flame retardants. So far, however, there has been a lack of simplifying experiments that allow the different steps to be studied separately," explains Prof. Burak Atakan.

Prof. Atakan's scientists are setting up a simplifying trainer for experiments in Duisburg for the DFG project. "Here, we are combining our expertise in gas phase analysis with the skills of Dr. Thomas Mayer-Gall. He is the expert at DTNW in Krefeld for the production and application of new flame retardants to textiles. He also contributes his experience in solid phase testing and standardized methods," says Prof. Burak Atakan.

The joint work is intended to provide more research into the basic mode of action of phosphorus- and nitrogen-containing flame retardants in both phases, so that effective and at the same time environmentally friendly alternatives can be produced.

More information...
© Senckenberg

Nature PublicationBiodiversity in European waters

August 2023 

First came the recovery, then the stagnation of biodiversity in European waters. This is the conclusion reached by an international research team led by Prof. Dr. Peter Haase (Senckenberg/UDE) in a study now published in the journal Nature. The scientists show that the biodiversity of the rivers studied has increased significantly since 1968, but they warn that this positive trend has stalled since 2010. The reason: numerous man-made pressures. But there are solutions. 

Even though mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies are flying insects - they spend most of their lives as larvae in the water. "These and many other invertebrates contribute to important ecosystem processes in freshwaters. They decompose organic matter, filter water and transport nutrients between aquatic and terrestrial environments. In addition, they are a cornerstone for monitoring water quality," explains first author of the study, Prof. Dr. Peter Haase from the Senckenberg Research Institute. He is also head of the Department of River and Floodplain Ecology at the UDE. He emphasizes, "Such monitoring is immensely important because rivers and lakes are among the ecosystems most at risk of biodiversity loss."

For example, various countermeasures were taken around the world in response to the poor condition of water bodies in the 1950s and '60s. "However, these increases in biodiversity occurred mainly before 2010 and have stagnated since. In addition, stressors are increasing." Haase cites agricultural and urban land use as the main factors here, saying that this causes pollutants, organically contaminated wastewater, fine sediments and pesticides to accumulate in the river. Changes such as dams, water withdrawals, invasive species and climate change also threaten water bodies. Among the more than 1800 time series evaluated are those on water bodies in the Ruhr River basin in the Arnsberg Forest. "In the hot summers of recent years, some of the water bodies dried up temporarily - this in turn has a negative impact on the fauna," says Dr. Armin Lorenz from the Aquatic Ecology Department at UDE and co-author.

According to the study, significant investments are needed: wastewater networks must be expanded and wastewater treatment plants improved so that they no longer overflow during heavy rains, micropollutants are prevented and pollutants are removed more effectively. In addition, agriculture should reduce fertilizers and pesticides near riverbanks. In addition, rivers must be adapted to the future climate, for example through renaturation or by connecting them to floodplains as flood protection.

More information...
© UDE/Bettina Engel-Albustin

Discovery by Prof. Dr. Alexander ProbstNew possible function of the gene scissors discovered

August 2023 

Microorganisms use genetic scissors to fight viral attackers. In genetic engineering, the microbial immune system is used for targeted modification of the genetic material. Led by Professor Dr. Alexander Probst, microbiologist at the Research Center One Health Ruhr of the Research Alliance Ruhr, a research team has now discovered another function of the specialized genome sequence: archaea - microorganisms that are often visually very similar to bacteria - also use it to fight parasites. The team has now published their findings in Nature Microbiology.

Biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna received the Nobel Prize for the biotechnological application of the CRISPR-Cas systems, or ‘genetic scissors’, for genetic engineering in 2020. However, many functions of this genetic tool are still unexplored to date. Could microorganisms, for example, use them to fight off other microorganisms that live on them as parasites? With this research question in mind, Alexander Probst analysed the genetic material of microbes in the Earth’s deep crust.

With his team, the microbiologist has analysed the water that a geyser in the USA spits to the surface from the depths, as well as samples from the Horonobe underground laboratory in Japan. The research team focused on archaea, which live in the ecosystem as hosts and parasites. The tiny microbes are highly similar to bacteria in cell size but have substantially different physiological properties.

In order to rule out the possibility that they have only come across isolated cases, the researchers have extended the analysis to over 7,000 genomes and observed the phenomenon very frequently. In future research, this finding will also facilitate distinguishing between beneficial symbionts and harmful parasites. If there has been a CRIPSR recognition, the microorganism is very likely to be a parasite. This will probably also help better understand important metabolic processes, such as the carbon flow in ecosystems, in the future

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Developed by AG Phycology!UDE BioSlides

July 2023 

With UDE BioSLiDES*), more than 200 high-resolution digitized microscopic preparations of plants, animals and microorganisms are made available for viewing and downloading. In the web browser, these preparations can be examined in different magnifications, just as directly on the microscope. In contrast to other virtual microscopes, in UDE BioSLiDES the examination object can also be focused in depth over many focal planes. In addition, further information about the organism, its anatomical structures, the preparation and the microscope optics used provide an in-depth insight into the biology and technology of microscopic examinations. 

All content of UDE BioSLiDES is available for use and download free of charge as an Open Educational Resource.

As far as we know, UDE BioSLiDES is unique worldwide in its combination of scope, technology (especially the possibility to focus through the preparations), content orientation, free use and free license.

UDE BioSLiDES was developed by Dr. Michael Kloster from the Phycology group (Prof. Dr. Bánk Beszteri), Faculty of Biology, University of Duisburg-Essen.

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Articles about ZWU members!The second UDE research magazine has been published

July 2023 

The second UDE research magazine has been published, this time with a focus on health.

Included in the research magazine is an article about the UDE algae collection and an article about Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst's research on the effect of microorganisms on environmental health.

We hope you enjoy reading!

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Award ceremonyYoung Scientist Award 2023

June 2023 

For the fifteenth time, the ZWU has presented the Young Scientist Award (YSA) for outstanding theses by students and young scientists.
This year, the selection committee honored Felix Drees, Hannah-Marie Stappert, Nina Grundmann, Melissa Reibold, Dr. Lotta Laura Hohrenk-Danzouma, Dr. Dakeishla M. Diaz Morales and Dr. Till Leander Valentin Bornemann.


© pixabay

you are cordially invited!The World Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies 2024 will be held in Essen

June 2023 

The organizers expect up to 600 international water professionals in the heart of the Ruhr region. At the Leading Edge Conference for Water and Wastewater Technology (LET), which will take place in Essen from June 24 to 28, 2024, international water experts will exchange ideas on innovations in the water sector.

This network is an essential driver for being able to achieve the global sustainability goals of the United Nations in the field of drinking water supply and wastewater treatment. The LET is helping to shape the future of water and wastewater management worldwide. It is known for promoting breakthrough ideas and facilitating their rapid practical implementation.

The sponsor of the conference, held this year in South Korea, is the London-based International Water Association (IWA). The IWA is the world's largest network of water companies, experts and institutions from 140 countries.

The hosts of #LET2024, RuhrverbandEmschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband (EGLV)  and the GELSENWASSER AG, cordially invite water economists* to participate in this global event.

Prof. Norbert Jardin, Chairman of the Board of Ruhrverband: "Climate change is a driver for necessary changes in water management. Ensuring sufficient quantities of water for drinking water supply through innovative dam management and further improving wastewater treatment through optimal process technologies for the eli- mination of trace substances are just two challenges where international knowledge exchange can generate new approaches."

"Innovative and future-oriented technologies are key to meeting the challenges of a changing water sector. The necessary level of ambition requires a more intensive focus on wastewater treatment processes in the coming years," says Dr. Frank Obenaus, EGLV board member for water management and technology.

GELSENWASSER AG, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Dirk Waider: "The climate future demands economical, practicable and safe solutions in water and wastewater management. In our Ruhr region, there are many examples of transformational power and sustainable climate resilience. We want to share these together with ideas from around the world."

The conference will take place at the "Zeche Zollverein" World Heritage Site in Essen. The site itself, a former coal mine turned museum and World Heritage Site, is a symbol of change - from an industrial society shaped by the use of fossil fuels to the sustainable management of the earth's resources. In post-industrial society, water will play an increasingly central role.

Invitation film:

You can find out more on the websites of the hosts:

International Water Association:

© Ricarda Schmithausen

New ZWU projectDetecting pathogens faster in wastewater

May 2023 

The Covid 19 pandemic proved Wastewater is much more than a waste product. Whether it's viruses, bacteria or parasites - when evaluated, it reveals so much about the health of society. A treasure trove of information that is now to be analyzed and evaluated in a project led by the Center for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE),  to detect future pandemics at an early stage.

Infectious diseases are endangering people, and at the same time antibiotic resistance is on the rise. In order to identify and contain these risks, the collection and evaluation of data can help. This is where the project "Identifying and eliminating environmentally associated infection events in urban areas in NRW" comes in. "It's about gaining information in a holistic context. And our wastewater network with wastewater from households and hospitals, among others, is exactly the right source. After all, not only pathogens but also antibiotic resistance and administered drugs can be detected there," says Dr. Michael Eisinger, project coordinator at ZWU.

So far, this approach has not been systematically pursued in Germany, but has only been used for SARS-Cov-2. "However, the wastewater network could be developed into a map of health status as well as resistance status in the long run," Eisinger explains the goal. After all, by understanding how pathogens and antibiotics are distributed in the wastewater network, potential threats to the public can be identified.

Three ZWU research groups are working together on the interdisciplinary project: the Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine at the University Hospital (Prof. Dr. Folker Meyer and PD Dr. Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen), Aquatic Ecology (Prof. Dr. Bernd Sures), the Institute for Urban Public Health (Prof. Dr. Susanne Moebus and Dr. Dennis Schmiege) and Instrumental Analytical Chemistry (Prof. Dr. Torsten Schmidt). Two connected aspects are in focus: On the one hand, detection and analytical methods are to be developed and optimized in order to install sustainable and long-term wastewater monitoring (wastewater epidemiology). On the other hand, methods are to be developed to purify wastewater more effectively from medicinal or microbiological contamination (photocatalysis).

The project started on April 1 and is initially scheduled to run for three years. It is funded by the Stiftung Zukunft NRW foundation. The cooperation partner is the Emschergenossenschaft. The samples come from the Essen wastewater network.

More information...

ZWU member Prof. Dr. Florian Leese is part of the line-up5th Essen Science Summer: SCIENCE SLAM

May 2023 

At the end of the 5th Essen Science Summer, we invite you to a special kind of competition: Four dynamic gladiators of science will compete against each other and try to explain their research as excitingly, entertainingly, wittily and understandably as possible in a maximum of 10 minutes. The decision about victory and defeat is up to you - the audience.

Also in the line-up this year is ZWU member Prof. Dr. Florian Leese.
Prof. Dr. Leese is head of the Aquatic Ecosystem Research at the UDE and will give a Science Slam on the topic: "Biodiversity - or the end of diversity".

Participation in the event is free of charge and admission starts at 6:30 pm.

Good luck!


More information...
© UDE/U.Bohnsack

UDE project is one of the winnersOne University - One Book

May 2023 

The UDE was one of nine universities to win the nationwide "One University - One Book" competition. With this program, the Stifterverband and the Klaus Tschira Foundation, together with the ZEIT publishing house, award the best ideas and actions for a living campus culture. The winners get supported with 10,000 euros each. The UDE had chosen "Biodiversity. 100 Seiten" by the young author Jasmin Schreiber. 

The book describes in a generally understandable way and with real-life examples what the term "biodiversity" means, what the loss of biological diversity means for us humans, and what everyone can do to counter it.

At the UDE, water and environmental research is a profile focus, and thus also the topic of biodiversity. Prof. Leese, Aquatic Ecosystem Research, and Prof. Karen Shire, Vice Rector for University Culture, Diversity and International Affairs, submitted the concept to the Stifterverband on behalf of the UDE - and convinced the jury. "Jasmin Schreiber's book works through central aspects of ecology and evolutionary biology in breathtaking briefness, building on them to illuminate the current "drama" on our planet very vividly and to show options for solutions. It is this briefness and the very direct address that make the small Reclam book particularly suitable for an introduction to the topic. And that is exactly what we want: To get people talking about biodiversity," says Prof. Leese.

The goal of One University - One Book is to strengthen the exchange and identification of all members with their university and to involve the public.

And that is what is planned at the UDE for the next 12 months: Reading corners will be set up in both university libraries with the young author's book and other books on the topic. There will be a project week. University members, student associations such as the Campus Garden and the family service DU-E-Kids will implement ideas to improve biodiversity on the UDE campuses in the long term.

There will also be science slams in pubs, open lab days, field trips and other events for students and schoolchildren, and much more. "The important topic of biodiversity will thus become part of our university culture in a thoughtful, creative - and somewhat playful - way," emphasizes Vice Rector Karen Shire.

More information...
© IUTA e.V. / Johannes-Rau-Forschungsgemeinschaft

IUTA - Institute for Environment & Energy, Technology & AnalyticsNew Name for IUTA

May 2023 

The research institute IUTA has a new name. In the future, the affiliated institute of the UDE will be called: IUTA - Institute for Environment & Energy, Technology & Analytics. On the one hand, the name clarifies the thematic focus on the areas of environment & energy and, on the other hand for the expertise in technology & analytics. The acronym IUTA, the logo and the claim "research, network, apply" remain unchanged.

The name change is a result of the IUTA-2030 strategy process, in the course of which the structure of the institute was simplified and the guiding themes sharpened: the now nine research departments and two central departments work on interdepartmental research, development and service projects under the four guiding themes "Aerosols & Particle Technology", "Air Pollution Control & Gas Process Technology", "Recycling Management & Water Technology" and "Analytics & Measurement Technology". Compared to the previous name "Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology", the new name is intended to reflect the growing importance of analytics and measurement technology for the institute.

About IUTA:
IUTA is an application-oriented research institute and forms the bridge between basic university research and small and medium-sized businesses in the field of energy and environmental technology. With a focus on process engineering and analytics, the employees mainly conduct application-oriented research and development projects in cooperation with industrial partners. Prof. Dr. Dieter Bathen, holder of the UDE Chair of Thermal Process Engineering, is also the scientific director of IUTA.

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Approval of the research project!New research project i-Molch

April 2023 

A new research project has been approved at the Chair of Aquatic Microbiology, in which basic principles for an ecological assessment of groundwater are being developed.

In the Water-Frame-Work Directive of the EU, a good chemical and ecological status is required for all waters. For surface waters, there are established and well-functioning criteria for assessing the status. For groundwater, however, only the chemical status can be analyzed, as there are no recognized methods yet that can assess the ecological status of groundwater.

The BMBF-funded consortium of universities and companies is coordinated at Ruhr-Uni Bochum by Prof. Dr. Tobias Licha and aims to close this gap in order to be able to sustainably protect groundwater as our most important drinking water resource. Prof. Meckenstock's group will specifically focus on microbial ecology in groundwater, as microorganisms are the most important actors for the self-purification forces in groundwater.

The project officially started on 1.03.23!

Start of the WGS!Opening Ceremony of the Water Graduate School

April 2023 

The Water Graduate School (WGS) is locatedat the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE, Campus Essen) and provides a comprehensive programme to all doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in water research in the network of the Centre for Water and Environmental Research. 

On 22 March 2023 the WGS was formally launched with about 120 participants, including speakers from the water sector (Prof. Dr. Hans-Curt Flemming, Prof. Dr. Torsten C. Schmidt (IAC-UDE) and other graduate programmes (Dr. Thea Göhring (DFG) and Prof. Dr. Dittmer from (BIOME-UDE). In addition to the traditional talks, Prof. Dr. Florian Leese, Jun. Prof. Dr. Anzhela and Dr. Dennis Schmiege presented a science slam about their research topics to the audience. Various members of the ZWU network also shared their career experiences on stage (Christoph Koch (EAH Jena), Fabian Itzel (LINEG), Beate Krok (ZWU-UDE)), Daniel Teschlade (Ruhrverband), Sonja Rückert (UDE), Michael Eisinger (ZWU-UDE), Viktoria Berger (Wupperverband), Stefan Weber (Chemstars)) and their expertise at the network market (IWW, Green Ocean, Ruhrverband, Wupperverband, various working groups/projects of the UDE and RUB, Chemstars, EAH Jena, ZWU/ZMB, LINEG).  Many of the participating students and (post)doctoral researchers took the opportunity to chat and network.  

Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers joining the WGS will be part of a programme related to the core area of research (water quality, biodiversity or urban water cycle) or to the soft skill foci (supervision, teaching and project management). The programme includes various workshops, lectures, seminars and annual retreats as well as team building and outreach activities.
Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers interested in joining the WGS can contact the coordinator Dr. Vanessa Kramer ( or the WGS speakers PD Dr. Ursula Telgheder ( and Prof. Dr. Alexander Probst ( for more information. Membership is complimentary.

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Congratulations!Jochen Block Award 2023 for Corina Andronescu

March 2023 

The Jochen Block Award 2023 of the German Catalysis Society is awarded to Jun.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Corina Andronescu (Technical Chemistry III, UDE) for her significant contributions to method development for the stable immobilization of catalysts on electrodes for energy conversion and storage.

With her research at UDE, Andronescu wants to counteract global warming. She is working on a solution for converting CO2 into usable fuels such as methanol and on electrocatalytic water splitting, which produces hydrogen. Its focus is on developing electrocatalytically active materials. They make the storage and conversion of renewable energies possible.

The Jochen Block Award is endowed with 3,000 euros and honors exceptional achievements by young scientists. It was presented at the annual meeting of German catalysts in Weimar on March 16, 2023.

Congratulations on the award!

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© GDCh/Jürgen Lösel

Congratulations!Carl Duisberg Memorial Award 2023 for Kai Exner

March 2023 

During the Chemistry Lecturers' Conference at the Technical University of Dresden, Professor Dr. Kai S. Exner (Theoretical Inorganic Chemistry, UDE) was awarded the prestigious Carl Duisberg Memorial Prize of the German Chemical Society (GDCh). The GDCh honors Prof. Kai S. Exner for his outstanding conceptual contributions in the highly topical and -competitive fields of theoretical electrocatalysis and battery research.

Producing hydrogen only from water and solar energy - researchers worldwide are working on this sustainable way. Prof. Kai S. Exner has now been able to demonstrate that previous modeling assumed mechanisms that were too simple and therefore did not deliver reliable results. He published his analysis in the journal Materials Horizon.

Among other things, his findings are incorporated into the work of the Collaborative Research Center/Transregio Heterogeneous Oxidation Catalysis in the Liquid Phase, in which researchers at UDE are significantly involved. The latter develops catalytic materials and processes to produce chemicals sustainably and efficiently.

The Carl Duisberg Memorial Award, endowed with 7500 euros, has been awarded since 1936 to young university teachers who work at a German university or as Germans at a foreign university, do not yet hold a W2/W3 or comparable position, and have not yet exceeded the age of 40. Of the prize money, 5000 euros go directly to the award winner and the remaining 2500 euros to the working group.

Congratulations on the award!

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© Romy Durst | Save the Blue Heart of Europe

A milestone for nature conservationThe Vjosa River in Albania proclaimed Europe's first wild river national park

March 2023 

On March 15, 2023, the Vjosa River in Albania was proclaimed Europe's first wild river national park. From now on, the entire Vjosa River in Albania from the Greek border to the Adriatic Sea, as well as its main tributaries - a total river system of over 400 kilometers in length - will be designated as a national park. This is unique in Europe. With the Vjosa, one of the last large unspoiled wild rivers in Europe, a river system is protected for the first time.

In recent years, scientists have studied the biodiversity of the Vjosa River and its tributaries and have highlighted the great importance for the ecosystem. Marie Brasseur from the Aquatic Ecosystem Research Group at the UDE, together with other scientists, has made a contribution to the research of biodiversity in the Vjosa. The results have just been published here.

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Cabinet decision of March 15, 2023National Water Strategy

March 2023 

On March 15, 2023, the National Water Strategy was adopted by the Federal Cabinet. The strategy was developed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) together with representatives from the water industry, agriculture and research, associations, federal states and municipalities as part of the two-year National Water Dialogue.

The goal of the National Water Strategy is the sustainable use of our water resources, sustainable management, securing the water supply and protecting our waters. In the long term access to high-quality drinking water is to be maintained, responsible management of ground and surface waters is to be ensured in other sectors as well, and the natural water balance and ecological development of our water bodies are to be supported. The 78 measures of the action program for the National Water Strategy are to be implemented step by step by 2023.


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© UDE/Juliana Fischer

Congratulations!Gottschalk-Diederich-Baedecker-Prize for Juniorprofessor Dr. Corina Andronescu

November 2022 

She develops energy-efficient methods to produce hydrogen for the energy transition or to bind climate-damaging carbon dioxide: Junior Professor Dr. Corina Andronescu. Now the UDE chemist has received the Gottschalk-Diederich-Baedeker Prize. This prize is awarded by the G.D. Baedeker Foundation to scientists who bring their outstanding research to industry.

With the prize, the foundation wants to make the benefits of UDE research for the Ruhr metropolitan region visible. Corina Andronescu's work is a perfect example of this. The 35-year-old is investigating how, for example, catalytic hydrogen production can be made more sustainable on a larger scale in the future.

Laudator Prof. Dr. Stephan Barcikowski was particularly pleased with the "double whammy" that Andronescu brings to the Faculty of Chemistry. She just received the prestigious Joachim Walter Schultze Award from the Association of Electrochemical Research Institutions in September.

Andronescu has been at the UDE since 2018 and is well connected in the research community. She is vice speaker of ACTIVES SITES, a research building currently under construction at the campus in Essen. Research is being conducted there on active centers in aqueous environments that play an important role in chemical and biological processes, including electrochemical energy conversion.

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© Alexey Slyusarenko -

Research project in cooperation with the aquatic ecology of the UDELaunch of the project KliMaWerk

November 2022 

Climate change puts water bodies and the landscape in extreme situations. What measures will help water bodies to cope with these events? The research project "KliMaWerk - Water:Landscape" now aims to find answers to this question. Researchers from the Aquatic Ecology department of the UDE are also involved.

In two representative areas in the catchment area of the Lippe - one rural and one urban - regular investigations will be carried out for two years at more than 30 sites. The aim is to find out how the river and nature react to low water and drying situations alternating with heavy rainfall events and how successful the measures already taken, such as renaturation, shading or retention basins, are. The scientists of the Aquatic Ecology Department of the UDE are investigating the effects of measures taken on flowing waters on discharge, water temperature and colonization.

The KliMaWerk project is being carried out by the Lippeverband, the UDE, the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, the Ecologic Research Institute, the companies Hydrotec and delta h, and the Koenzen planning office. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the "KliMaWerk" joint project until the beginning of 2025 as part of the "WaX" funding measure under the federal "Water: N" program.


More information...
© UDE/Bettina Engel-Albustin

Congratulations!One-Health Ruhr Professorship for Prof. Alexander Ruhr

November 2022 

Professor Alexander Probst is the first research professor at One Health Ruhr. He is working on environmental metagenomics of organisms.

Environmental metagenomic researchers take the material for their samples directly from the natural habitat instead of first cultivating it microbiologically. At the Research Center (RC) One Health, Professor Probst analyzes the genome of microbes - i.e. bacteria, archaea and viruses - that live in rivers, lakes and groundwater.

UDE Professor Probst is supported in the UA Ruhr by colleagues from biology, chemistry, medicine, neurosciences and environmental sciences from the universities of Bochum, Duisburg-Essen, TU Dortmund and the University Hospital Essen. Starting at the molecular level, they investigate the fundamentals of health and disease all the way to plants and animals. "The ecosystem serves as a context for us to investigate the complex interrelationships between environmental, animal and human health in the sense of the 'One Health' concept," adds Prof. Dr. Dirk Schadendorf, Director of the Research Center One Health Ruhr.

The RC One Health Ruhr is one of four research centers in which the UA Ruhr of the universities of Bochum, Dortmund and Duisburg-Essen organizes its cutting-edge research on urgent issues on an international and interdisciplinary basis. The other three centers deal with 'Chemical Sciences and Sustainability', 'Trustworthy Data Science and Security' and 'Future Energy Materials and Systems'. Their results and the College for Social Sciences and Humanities are intended to strengthen the Metropole Ruhr as a science location and have an impact beyond the region. The UA Ruhr was initiated by the Ruhr Conference and is supported by the state government of NRW with 75 million euros in the start-up phase.

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The ZWU says thank you and wishes all the best!Martin Denecke - Farewell into retirement

October 2022 

From the very beginning of his research and teaching activities at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Prof. Dr. Martin Denecke has consistently incorporated scientific content into engineering research and teaching. The natural science content was never an end in itself, but was always practically related to specific plants and processes. In recent years, molecular biological and biochemical analysis methods have played an increasingly prominent role in optimizing the operation and planning of environmentally relevant plants. Furthermore, many of the insights gained are being incorporated into models represent the processes in plants better.

Martin Denecke has incorporated the findings from high-quality and up-to-date research into a well-planned course. In particular, the course "Environmental Agenda" was newly developed by him. He was the responsible student advisor in the Department of Building Sciences and always open to the interests of the students. In addition, numerous theses and doctoral dissertations were successfully supervised by him.

In the context of international cooperation and mobility, his cooperation with the Advanced Wastewater Managemet Center of the University of Brisbane and a visiting professorship at the Universiti Kebaangsan Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia supported the expansion and supervision of the double degree program with the University of Kebansaan Kuala Lumpur and thus extended it to civil engineering. He has been deeply involved in the Transnational Water Management (TWM) program, which is jointly organized with Radboud University Nijmegen.

With his research and teaching activities, Martin Denecke has impressively anchored current research-relevant topics in research and teaching. Through numerous publications of these scientifically valuable findings, they could be documented in a larger context.

The ZWU thanks him for his many years of commitment to water research at the University of Duisburg-Essen and wishes him all the best for the new phase of his life!

© pixabay

Follow us!The ZWU on instagram

October 2022 

After the ZWU has been keeping its members up to date via Twitter for some time now, you can now also find the ZWU on Instagram!

Here we do our best to inform and entertain you with pictures and short videos about all topics around the ZWU.

We are looking forward to seeing you on the ZWU account and to welcoming many new followers!

To the account ...

22-23 November 2022EssenWorkshop River Basin Management

September 2022 

On 22/23 November 2022, the ZWU is organising the River Basin Management Workshop together with the DWA.

The two-day workshop will deal with the achievement of the objectives of the European Water Framework Directive, the development of the management plans and target-oriented measures for implementation.

The workshop will thus focus on the following key topics:

  •     Current core aspects of water management - extreme weather conditions
  •     Current core aspects of water management - material pressures
  •     Water management activities in the third management cycle
  •     Current developments in the fish fauna quality element
  •     Challenges and further developments in river basin modelling

We are looking forward to numerous registrations!

More information ...

New UDE Research MagazineFocus on Water

September 2022 

The new UDE research magazine shows how scientists find and implement solutions to the pressing questions of our time. It starts with the main topic of water.

Into the lab, out into the field or immerse yourself in the study: the research magazine offers exciting insights across science - in German and English. Each issue is planned around a focal point. The first is water. It is the basis of all life and an increasingly scarce resource. Extensive research is therefore conducted on it at the UDE and it forms one of our five profile focal points. Discover how the health of a body of water is measured, why a once dead river is now considered a global model and how a journey through time is possible through flora and fauna.

The research magazine is now online.
Print copies are available from the Press Department:

We hope you enjoy reading it!

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© privat

Membrane researchHumboldt Fellow in Technical Chemistry

September 2022 

Water is becoming increasingly scarce on our planet. And the available water is often polluted. Dr Libing Zheng wants to optimise purification. He is currently a scholarship holder with Professor Mathias Ulbricht in Technical Chemistry.

Water purification is now standard in many countries. "In industry, we could also use seawater," says Libing Zheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Membrane distillation (MD), for example, makes this possible.

At the UDE Dr. Zheng would like to use magnetic particles to combat fouling, among other things.

More information ...

New membershipThe ZWU is now an EWA Research Member

September 2022 

The European Water Association (EWA) has accepted the ZWU as a Research Member.

The EWA is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit organisation and one of the largest associations in Europe. Among its members from almost all European countries are research institutions, national associations, scientists, consultants and companies.

Membership provides the ZWU and its members with access to a network of European associations and institutions, information from Brussels and Strasbourg as well as EWA workshops and conferences.

We look forward to a great cooperation and exchange!

More information ...
© Cristina Batti

Ruhr Prize for Art and ScienceAward for Prof. Torsten Schmidt

August 2022 

The Ruhr Prize for Art and Science of the City of Mülheim an der Ruhr for 2022 will be awarded to Prof. Dr. Torsten C. Schmidt this year in recognition of his exceptional scientific achievements in the field of water. In addition to his proven teaching and research activities at the UDE, his successful work over many years as one of the scientific directors at the IWW Centre for Water is particularly instrumental in spreading and consolidating Mülheim's excellent scientific reputation as a location for cutting-edge research.

"Successful research is characterised by teamwork. My gratitude therefore goes to my excellent colleagues!" says Prof. Schmidt.

Prof. Schmidt receives the award together with the visual artist Alexander Voß. Both main prizes are endowed with 3,000 euros each. The award ceremony will take place on 4 December.


More information ...
© AG Schlücker

Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC)Faculty of Chemistry: Joining Beyond Benign

August 2022 

The Faculty of Chemistry is now one of the institutions that have joined the Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) of the international organisation Beyond Benign. In doing so, it commits itself to making sustainability an integral part of teaching and to reducing or even avoiding hazardous substances. Dean Prof. Dr. Torsten C. Schmidt and Prof. Dr. Stefan Rumann, Vice-Rector for Studies, Teaching and Education at the UDE, signed the agreement.

The initiative to follow the principles of Green Chemistry came from the students. They saw some of the goals formulated in the GCC already anchored in the faculty and wanted to strengthen the orientation.

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© Anna Ziefuß

Cold Brew CoffeeUDE chemists develop brewing technology

August 2022 

Dr Anna Rosa Ziefuß and Tina Friedenauer from AG Barcikowski have developed a new brewing process: Instead of letting the coffee grounds steep at room temperature for at least twelve hours, their process takes only three minutes - thanks to lasers. They published their result in npj Science of Food.

Now the two want to start up LEoPARD. LEoPARD stands for Laser-based Extraction offers Pure and Advanced Refreshment Drinks - which shows where the two see the market potential. "It's not the coffee, but the laser-based manufacturing process that has a huge event character. So we envision renting out appropriate laser systems for events, like weddings. But you could also rent it out or license it to coffee houses." In addition, the process may also become interesting for the beverage industry in the future, as tea or matcha could also be produced this way.

A video of the process is available on the Instagram page.

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Congratulations!Prof. Dr Christoph Donner becomes Chairman of the Board of Berliner Wasserbetriebe

August 2022 

Our long-standing ZWU member Prof. Dr. Christoph Donner will become the new Chairman of the Executive Board as well as Head of the Technology Department of Berliner Wasserbetriebe from January 2023. Previously, the 52-year-old was head of the technology department at Rheinisch-Westfälische Wasserwerksgesellschaft mbH. He already worked for Berliner Wasserbetriebe between 2004 and 2009, including four years as Head of Corporate Development and Head of National Participation at Berlinwasser Holding. Prof. Dr. Donner studied hydrogeology at the universities of Clausthal and Tübingen from 1992 to 1997 and received his doctorate from the Dortmund Institute for Water Research in 2000. In 2021, Donner received an honorary professorship from the University of Duisburg-Essen, where he regularly teaches in the field of civil engineering, with a focus on urban water management.

Mr Donner will remain actively associated with the ZWU and continue his teaching activities at the UDE.

The ZWU congratulates him warmly and wishes him all the best for his new tasks.

More information only available in german...
© Carpus+Partner AG

Research building approvedNew methods for top-level research

July 2022 

Funding for the new ACTIVE SITES research building has been secured: Following the Science Council, the Joint Science Conference (GWK) has now also given green light for the new 70-million-euro building. The costs are shared by the federal and state governments and the UDE. With ACTIVE SITES the UDE gains a centre of international renown at which so-called active sites are researched in an aqueous environment. These have an important role in chemical and biological processes, such as energy conversion, water purification and active subtances development. Starting 2026, scientists from various disciplines will conduct research together in state-of-the-art laboratories.

The goal of the project is to develop new methods based on large-scale instruments that use knowledge from different disciplines to study active centres. Active sites are understood to be binding and reaction sites for molecules. The challenge here is to observe the course of reactions live and in their natural environment. "Until now, active sites have mostly been analyzed either in artificial environments or only indirectly, by comparing them before and after the reaction," explains Prof. Corina Andronescu, a technical chemist and deputy spokesperson of ACTIVE SITES. "We want to visualize the reaction in the natural aqueous environment. To do this, we will develop a set of methods that specifically brings together and combines expertise from the different fields of chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. This approach of working across disciplines as well as across substances is unique so far."

More information ...
© Beatrix Heine/Uni Jena

Nature publicationStudy on microbes in groundwater

July 2022 

Scientists from Jena have used a highly sensitive measuring method to investigate in more detail how microorganisms in rocks are able to produce biomass from inorganic substances. Alexander Probst, UDE Professor of Aquatic Microbial Ecology, and his colleague Till Bornemann were also involved in the investigations. They carried out bioinformatic analyses.

The team was able to show for the first time the extent to which these communities produce biomass in absolute darkness. The results provide new insights into the functioning of these subterranean ecosystems, which provide an essential part of our drinking water.

The study was published in Nature Geoscience.

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Publication of the DGMT policy paperDGMT policy paper: Membrane technology for the prevention of antibiotic resistence in waters

June 2022 

The DGMT working group on micropollutants has developed a policy paper on "Membrane technology to prevent antibiotic resistance in water", which has just been published.

The position paper informs about the problem of resistances in wastewater and shows possible technical solutions.

More information ...

Congratulations!Dr. Christian Donner becomes honorary professor at the UDE's Department of Urban Water Management and Waste Management.

April 2022 

Dr. Christoph Donner has been a lecturer at the University of Duisburg-Essen for over 10 years in the Urban Water Management Unit. His expertise ranges from the basics of water management to specific topics such as asset management.
Dr. Donner is involved in numerous national and international projects on water management, including the research college "Future Water" (see picture).

We look forward to welcoming an interdisciplinary thinker, practitioner and pioneer in water management!


Registration is now openInternational Chrysophyceae Symposium

April 2022 

The Chrysophyceae Symposium will be held this year at the University of Duisburg-Essen, from 8.8. to 11.8.22.Preparation is now well underway for our Symposium, which will be an in-person meeting format following a two-year delay due to the global COVID-19 crisis.

Following the focus of several previous symposia it will provide a forum to present work on all aspects of chrysophyte investigations including biodiversity, evolution, ecology, systematics, and experimental morphology. Although the overriding theme of the symposium will focus on chrysophytes, investigations of allied taxa as well as of other mixotrophic algae are welcome.

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© j-mel -

5.3 million euros for power-to-X platformClimate-neutral chemistry

April 2022 

Electricity from fossil fuels should disappear from the production chain as far as possible - not only to protect the environment, but also to become less dependent on imports. NRW wants to get a little closer to this goal and is now funding the construction of a power-to-X test platform at the UDE with 5.3 million euros. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the overall leader of the SPIN* project. Other project partners are Evonik Industries and Fraunhofer (FhG) UMSICHT.

"With the Power-to-X test platform, we are connecting the electricity, heat and gas grids as well as the mobility sector. This so-called sector coupling is a key technology on the way to the energy transition and the targeted climate neutrality," explains Professor Klaus Görner, the scientific director of the project. At the same time, the UDE researchers have the necessary infrastructure with the plant to manufacture further products whose intermediate component is energy in the form of hydrogen. The project will initially be funded for three years.

© J. Strackbein

WDR Lokalzeit visits SFB ResistFilm about the ExStream project

April 2022 

WDR Lokalzeit visited the Collaborative Research Centre SFB Resist to film a documentary on research into multiple stressors.

The WDR reported on ExStream, which uses mesocosms to test the effects of three stressors on groups of organisms and on ecosystem functions.

For this purpose, stream water is pumped into collection tanks from which it feeds up to 128 circular mesocosms. In the mesocosms, several stressors can be applied simultaneously in a full factorial design with eight replicates per stressor combination.

© Yassin Kasparei

From students for studentsHydrological-Water Management Conference (HYWATA) 2022

March 2022 

The hydrological-water management conference, HYWATA, is a four-day interdisciplinary networking event for students of all disciplines related to water (hydrology, hydrobiology, water management, cultural engineering, hydraulic engineering, geosciences, process engineering for water treatment and civil and environmental engineering).

HYWATA was held for the first time in 2012 at the Technical University of Dresden. Due to its success, there were further "HYWATAs" in Dresden and in Vienna in 2015, 2017 and 2018. In 2022, a group of students from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) will bring this successful concept to Essen for the first time. The UDE team consists of students from the DVGW university group AquaSmarTech, the study programme "Management and Technology of Water and Wastewater" and the study programme "Water Science".

The unique history and landscape of the Emscher and Ruhr region is the reason for the many water management associations and societies, and it also explains the high presence of corresponding cultural and research institutions - most of which are in intensive cooperation with the diverse water study programmes at the UDE. HYWATA 2022 will be held from 8 to 11 June at the Essen campus under the motto "The Challenge of Water Management in the Emscher and Ruhr Region - History, Present and Future".

Registrations from internal and external students are open from 8 March to 8 April.

More information ...
© Land NRW/Ralph Sondermann

75 million for researchStart of the Research Alliance

February 2022 

At the NRW State Chancellery, the Rectors of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, the Technische Universität Dortmund and the UDE signed the extended cooperation agreement for the establishment of the "Research Alliance Ruhr". Minister President Hendrik Wüst and Science Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen also handed over the allocation letter for funds amounting to 75 million euros for the start-up phase. The new research alliance was developed within the framework of the Ruhr Conference initiated by the state government.

The three universities are now setting up four new Research Centres and a "College for Social Sciences and Humanities". The four research centres deal with the topics "Future Energy Materials and Systems", "Chemical Sciences and Sustainability", "Trustworthy Data Science and Security" and "One Health". The latter is supported by the participation of the ZWU in the area of Ecosystem Health.

In total, up to 50 new professorships will be created, as well as numerous positions for mid-level researchers. Preparations for the first appointment procedures have already begun.

The full expansion of research centres and colleges is to be achieved by 2025. The goal is to establish a top-class international research alliance.

More information only available in german...
© Didem Denizer

Recognition of personal achievment and social commitmentDAAD Award for Hasan Idrees

February 2022 

The International Office of the UDE awards Hasan Idrees the DAAD Prize 2021 on behalf of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for his achievements and social commitment. Mr. Idrees studies water technology at the UDE and has, among other things, co-founded the university group AquaSmarTech.

AquaSmartTech has been up and running at UDE since 2015. The university group, founded with the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW), aims to connect UDE students and teachers with the professional world. To this end, it informs first-year students individually about their studies or offers information seminars and support in the search for internships, theses and jobs in the fields of water, environmental technology and hydraulic engineering.

In addition, the native Syrian runs a blog in which he addresses questions about living and entering Germany, health policy issues or labor law. The blog is not only aimed at students, but also at migrants from all countries. At the moment, however, it is only available in Arabic.

The ZWU congratulates very warmly on the award!

Find out more...
© Sophie Simon

Nature publicationGreenhouse gas fuel for microbes

January 2022 

With an ejection height of up to 60 meters, the geyser in Andernach is the world's largest cold-water geyser. Dr. Alexander J. Probst, biology professor at the UDE Faculty of Chemistry, found out which single-celled organisms live there and how they bind CO2. The results have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

For Probst and his doctoral student Till Bornemann, what is particularly interesting is what happens at the very bottom of the geyser. The UDE researchers most frequently found so-called altiarchaea. Professor Probst is also researching these single-celled organisms in a sulfur spring near Regensburg.

The interdisciplinary study involved UDE scientists from analytical chemistry (AG Schmidt), geology (AG Schreiber) and microbiology (AG Probst). gGmbH provided support, for example, with long-term measurements of water chemistry. Further analyses are planned in the "MultiKulti" project, which is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with 2.5 million euros over three years.

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Save the dateWater Research Horizon Conference 2022

December 2021 

On September 27-28, 2022, the Water Research Horizon Conference (WRHC) on the topic: "Aquatic Ecosystems between Conservation and Exploitation" will take place in Essen, Germany. In 2022, the WRHC will be organized by the Water Science Alliance and ZWU.

The Water Research Horizon Conference (WRHC) is a platform for dialogue on the major challenges in water research. Within its framework, the scientific community meets annually to discuss interdisciplinary issues to be addressed through integrated approaches.

Find out more about the programme.

To the registration.

Find out more...
© D. Schulze-Makuch

International StudyMicrobes and viruses found in the Atacama Desert

November 2021 

The Atacama Desert stretches along Chile's Pacific coast over 100,000 square kilometers. It is one of the most arid places in the world. Annual precipitation averages 0.5 mm, less than Death Valley in California.

Prof. A. Probst (Aquatic Microbial Ecology, UDE) and his international team have now discovered unicellular archaea there that have developed numerous resistances. They occur under rock-covered parts of the desert, where they are protected from UV radiation. The boulder-covered areas comprise up to a quarter of the extremely dry core of the Atacama Desert. So far, no life has been searched for there.

For space exploration, he said, this finding is important. "The Atacama Desert is considered a Mars analog." If terrestrial life strikes the red planet unplanned, it probably spreads widely, as the viruses' dispersal patterns showed. In addition, he said, there could be zones of life possible under Martian debris, just as there are here, despite drought and UV radiation.

The study involved researchers from the Technical Universities of Berlin and Duisburg-Essen, the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, and the U.S. universities of Harvard (Cambridge) and Rhode Island, Kingston.

Find out more...
© Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband

MERLIN collaborative project 21 million euros EU funding for renaturation

Oktober 2021 

The MERLIN* collaborative project coordinated by Prof. Hering & Dr. Birk (Aquatische Ökologie, UDE)  is funded by the EU with 21 million euros until 2025. The project involves 44 partners from across Europe, including universities, research institutes, nature conservation organizations as well as stakeholders from industry, administration and muncicipalities.

MERLIN seeks new , widely applicable solutions for restoring the functions of freshwater ecosystems, for example to improve flood retention and store carbon dioxide.

10 million of the EU funding will go to 17 areas from Finland to Israel, where streams, rivers as well as bogs and wetlands are currently  being restored to a near-natural state. These major projects will be expanded and upscaled with EU funding and developed into European-wide models. In Germany, the restoration of the Emscher is one of the supported projects. After the former dirty watercourse has already been cleaned and redesigned in a near-natural way at great expense, MERLIN  is now contributing to the further upgrading of the watercourse environment.

* MERLIN – Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation“

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Prof. Niemann (UDE) successfull with 2 projects in the competition InnovationUmweltwirschaft.NRW

September 2021

34 applicants were able to prevail in the preselection for the competition "InnovationUmweltwirtschaft.NRW" and were recommended for promotion. Two projects by Prof. Niemann (Wasserbau & Wasserwirtschaft, UDE) are among the successful projects:

Abot-Modell-WKA -Validation of a control tool for the fish behavior-related control of hydropower plants coordinated by Büro für Umweltplanung, Gewässermanagement und Fischerei

Smart Green City –Relocate sensors for a smart urban water balance coordinated by Okeanos Consulting GbR

Find out more...
© UDE/Bettina Engel-Albustin

Commitment to science communication Success for Dr. Stéphane Kenmoe

August 2021

The theoretical physicist Stéphane Kenmoe developed the series called: „Science in the City“ which is shown on African television (DASH TV) and YouTube. Now his commitment to science communication is being recognized at the Berlin  „Falling Walls“-Konferenz

Kenmoe, who works as a postdoc at the Chair of Theoretical Chemistry came out on top among 189 submissions and 50 finalists and is one of the 20 winners in the „Science Engagement“ category. At the Beginning of November he is allowed to present his project to a global audience at the  „Falling Walls“-Konferenz and has the chance to secure the title "Breakthrough of the year“.

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BMBF joint projectCultivation of aquatic microbes

August 2021

Growing microorganisms and their natural communities in the laboratory - this is the goal of the new research project MultiKulti at the University of Oldenburg. The research team - including members from the Aquatic Microbial Ecology department at the UDE - is developing a bioreactor that simulates the natural living conditions of microbes. The BMBF is funding the project with 2.5 million euros for 3 years.

The UDE researchers will apply bioinformatics methods that make it possible to predict the metabolism of the target microbes. In addition, a method based on DNA sequencing technology for reactor monitoring will be developed.

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Viren und ihr Wirt © V. Turzynski, L. Griesdorn, A. Probst

New viruses in groundwater International study on lytic archaeal viruses.

August 2021

Prof. Probst (Aquatic Microbial Ecology, UDE) and an international group of researchers found altiarchaea in the groundwater of the Mühlbach sulfur spring in Isling, Regensburg. They came across the unknown viruses that infect the microorganisms when analyzing water taken from a 35 m deep aquifer at the sulfur spring. In the labaratory, the viral pathogens cannot yet be grown in the laboratory and are therefore nameless.

Probst, A. et al.: „Lytic archaeal viruses infect abundant primary producers in Earth’s crust”, in: Nature Communications 12 (30 July 2021):

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Einfluss von Anionen auf die Emission von völlig anorganischen Goldnanoclustern © CENIDE

Fluorescence of noble metal Nanoclusters.

Juli 2021

In this work, researchers led by Ms. Ziefuss (Technical Chemistry I) demonstrate the size-controlled generation of ligand-free gold nanoclusters by a modern laser-based synthesis method. These species exhibit bright blue fluorescence whose intensity is a direct function of the surface charge density, which can be easily tuned by the pH of the surrounding medium. The researchers have succeeded for the first time in producing such small particles without organic biomolecules on the surface and observing the optical properties.

The study, in which several UDE working groups were involved, was carried out as part of a DFG research project. The research topic offers thematic points of contact for photocatalysis research, which is being carried out as part of the FutureWaterCampus (FWC).

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ICRS Honorary Award for Prof. Helmut Schuhmacher

Juli 2021

The ICRS International Coral Reef Society - the most important society for coral reef research - has awarded its honorary prize to UDE Professor Helmut Schuhmacher.

The former head of the then Institute of Ecology, now Aquatic Ecology, at UDE is considered one of Germany's leading coral reef ecologists and made a name for himself primarily through his studies on the effects of climate change and pollution on reefs.


To the ICRS Webseite...

EU projectMicroorganisms as indicators for oil and gas storage facilities

Juli 2021

Using microorganisms as standard indicators of oil and gas deposits to prevent environmentally damaging test drilling: This is what the "Prospectomics" project aims to achieve. Researchers around UDE professor Alexander Probst are significantly involved. The EU is funding the project for 42 months with 3.4 million euros.

The project takes a molecular biology approach: Changes in sediments above reservoirs should indicate where microorganisms are exposed to hydrocarbons. Using modern bioinformatics methods, "Prospectomics" aims to investigate how changes in microbial communities can be detected using metagenomics, -transcriptomics and -proteomics.

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© Fraunhofer IME

Project "TrenDNA"Funding from the Federal Environment Agency

Juni 2021

Under the leadership of the UDE, researchers in the project "TrenDNA - Investigations on Biodiversity with the Federal Environmental Specimen Bank" are working together with researchers from the University of Trier, the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and the Fraunhofer IME to develop new genetic methods with which samples can be evaluated.

High-throughput sequencing will be used to take a comprehensive look at biodiversity trends over time and develop measures, says Florian Leese, spokesman for the project.

More information about the environmental sample bank...

Start of the renovation work on the Thurmfeld

Juni 2021

Remediation work has begun on the former industrial site at Thurmfeld. The contaminated soil will be processed until fall 2022, after which construction of the FutureWaterCampus will begin.

The Westdeutsche Allgemeine WAZ was present at the site inspection and reported:

Thurmfeld wird von Altlasten befreit

To the article in the WAZ...

New DAAD university cooperation with EJUST in Egypt

Juni 2021

Together with the UDE Chair of Mechanical Process Engineering / Water Technology, the ZWU coordinates the cooperation project "Egyptian-German Academic Excellence in Water Treatment and Desalination (Excel-Water)", which is funded by the DAAD for 4 years.

The aim of the project is the establishment of educational programs for the training of qualified workers in Egypt. The UDE cooperates with Egyptian partners, the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) and the Fayoum University (FU).

More about the project...

Internat. Joint projectSustainable production of drinking water

Mai 2021

The international joint project "Sustainable and cost-effective production of drinking water from eutrophic and micro-polluted water using a membrane hybrid process (SUPREMES)", coordinated by the UDE Chair of Mechanical Process Engineering / Water Technology and the ZWU, will receive three years of funding from the BMBF starting in June 2021.

Partners in the application-oriented research project are the University of Novi Sad in Serbia and Essen-based Cornelsen Umwelttechnologie GmbH.

Informations about the chair of MV...