The PhD Programme Environmental Resource Management is a presence-based programme aiming at German and international students with a qualified Master degree (M.Sc.) or German University Diploma in Natural or Environmental Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Economics, Environmental Management, Environmental Law, Applied Chemistry, Biotechnology or related subjects with an overall Master´s grade no less than 2.3 according to the German grading system.

Upon successful completion of the programme, the doctoral degree "PhD in Environmental Sciences" is conferred by the Faculty of Environment and Natural Sciences.

The programme started in 2002 and has more than 80 successful graduates so far.

Currently 12 professors from the Faculty of Environment and Natural Sciences as well as from the Department of Environmental Law (Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences) are part of the programme. With more than 30 PhD students, ERM is currently the largest PhD Programme in Environmental Sciences in Germany.

The programme focuses on research in the areas of sustainability, climate, water, soil, ecology, raw materials, economics and law, thereby strengthening the research profile of BTU Cottbus – Senftenberg in Environment and Natural Sciences.

PhD students profit from our research expertise on sustainability and development goals as well as from the unique features of the Lusatia region as a former opencast mining area in the ongoing process of recultivation and renaturation where current challenges of climate change and sustainable land use are addressed and researched.

Our chairs and departments provide a broad network of regional, national and international partners.

This is a selection of the research areas of our departments and chairs:

Chair of Atmospheric Processes
  • Land surface - atmosphere interactions and feedback effects
  • Boundary-layer processes
  • Water and carbon cycle
  • Cloud and precipitation development
  • Climate change
  • Effects of land use change on atmospheric processes
Department of Ecology
  • Soil ecology
  • Conservation ecology
  • Predator & parasite ecology
  • Spatial ecology
  • Theoretical ecology
  • Landscape ecology
  • Entomology
  • Grazing ecology
  • Carcass ecology
  • Forensics
  • Protist ecology
Department of Technical Micro-Biology
  • Bioleaching with regards to recycling, ecology, law and sustainability
Chair of Freshwater Conservation

Ecology of lakes:

  • Ecology of acidic mining lakes – phytoplanktonic colonization under carbon limitation
  • Restoration and trophic development of mining lakes
  • Cyanobacteria in German lowland lakes
  • Phosphorus in lake sediments -  accumulation, transformation and remobilization

Ecology of streams and rivers:

  • Carbon transformation in land-water interfaces of disturbed river corridors
  • Biogeochemistry at the sediment-water interface
  • When streams and river banks fall dry - ecosystem metabolism of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams
  • Litter decomposition in in early successional landscapes and ephemeral streams
  • Ecological stress by shifting sediments - microbial food web and metabolism in migrating sand ripples
Chair of Hydrology and Water Resource Management
  • Ecohydrology of disturbed landscapes including post-mining sites
  • Modelling of complex interactions between the atmosphere, aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
  • Sustainable landscape development with a focus on soil and water resources
  • Hydroinformatics Systems for Integrated Water Management
Chair of Environmental Data Science (Joint Professorship with Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF))

The Environmental Data Science team aims to offer “AI-powered, Nature-based Solutions” that will balance nature and our society from the intersection of artificial intelligence x smart agriculture x biodiversity. Our current major focuses are the followings:

  • Biodiversity modeling with AI
  • Development of explainable/interpretable AI for environmental modeling
  • Estimating the global potential of soil microbes for sustainable agriculture
  • Agriculture-related drone and satellite imagery analysis with AI
  • Global change threats for biodiversity and our society
  • AI exploring optimal strategies among food provision, nature conservation, and development

We are always welcoming ambitious people to tackle various global issues together. 

Chair of Soil Protection and Re-Cultivation

Soil protection aims at sustaining or restoring soil functions. Soils - the "skin of the earth" - fulfill important functions at the interphase of atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and anthroposphere:

  • base for food production
  • habitat for soil fauna
  • filter for contaminants and groundwater
  • storage for water, carbon and nutrients
  • archive of cultural heritage

Due to its composition of mineral and organic solids, water, air, and biota, soils are the most complex of all natural environmental media.

Recultivation deals with the restoration of disturbed soils, ecosystems and landscape, e.g. after mining.

Our research is focused on topics like soil functions, soil and ecosystem development, and sustainable land use - from fundamental research to applied projects.

Chair of Geopedology and Landscape Development
  • Geomorphodynamics
  • Pedogenesis
  • Natural and anthropogenically disturbed landscapes
  • Phytoremediation
Chair of Raw Material and Natural Resource Management
  • Investigation of natural resource potentials (raw materials, ground water, underground structures) with geological and geophysical methods
  • Development of investigation concepts
  • Development of investigation systems and techniques (ground/air-borne)
Chair of Environmental Economics
  • economic analysis of environmental and resource policy instruments
  • economics of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service preservation
  • ecological-economic modelling
  • economic valuation of environmental change
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • economic analysis of land use in developed and developing countries including forest degradation, economic analysis of agri-environment schemes and payments for ecosystem services
Department of Environmental Law
  • Integrating land use planning, water resources and policy planning: Management challenges, opportunities and way forward in the context of sustainable development
  • Climate change menace and its impact on natural resource: Coping strategies and adaptation measures for highly risk regions or countries for sustainable development and livelihood.

Area of focus:
•    Agriculture, irrigation
•    Land resources
•    Water resources

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