THESys Postdoc Network


The THESys Postdoc Network is a collaborative network of postdoctoral and early-career researchers which provides a platform for young scientists interested in interdisciplinary research to connect and explore topics linked to sustainability and human-environment relations. The network provides an inclusive, constructive and safe space for early career scientists to support each other and share experiences on career challenges and opportunities in academia. In this way, the network complements the member-structure and graduate programme at IRI THESys.

With its current research topic ‘Bridging Scales in Interdisciplinary Human-environment Research’ the THESys Postdoc Network contributes to the research agenda of IRI THESys. In addition, the activities of the network include public lectures, research proposals and discussion papers.


The THESys Postdoc Network is open to all interested and motivated postdoctoral researchers, as well as any experienced graduate researchers at IRI THESys and partner institutions. Membership can be obtained through an ‘opt-in’ policy, i.e. interested researchers initiate contact and request to join the network. This way, the Postdoc Network aims to ensure that members actively contribute to the network.

The postdoctoral and late-stage PhD phase of a research career is notoriously fluctuating and mobile. Thus, the THESys Postdoc Network welcomes any member that leaves the IRI THESys or partner organizations to actively remain within the network and contribute to its activities.

Dr. Rossella Alba

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Department of Geography

Dr. Matthias Baumann

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Department of Geography

Dr. Claudia Coral

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences
Department of Agricultural Economics
Management of Agrarian Value Chains

Dr. Theresa Frommen

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Dr. Arash Ghoddousi

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Department of Geography

Dr. Beril Ocaklı

Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS)
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Dr. Cecilie Friis

Assistant Professor
University of Copenhagen
Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management
Section for Geography

Dr. Monica Hernandez-Morcillo

Researcher Forest, People, and Innovation, Lecturer MSc. Forestry System Transformation
Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development
Faculty of Forest and Environment

Dr. Phillippe Rufin

Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Earth & Life Institute

Dr. David Loibl

Dr. Ourania Papasozomenou

Dr. Maria Proestou

Bridging scales in interdisciplinary human-environment research

The complex questions we deal with in human-environment research are often linked to broad issues of sustainability, sustainable development, governance of resources, climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation, resource conflicts etc. To address this complexity, we approach these issues from very different theoretical perspectives and with very different methodologies – and often, at very different spatial, temporal and institutional scales. This makes integration and exchange of research results and outcomes difficult, and necessitates a better understanding of the diverse approaches to and understandings of “scales”. Moreover, different scientific traditions have different approaches to how to make research results relevant in broader societal discussions. This links to questions of how to generalize (empirically or theoretically) from individual studies. Some disciplines are concerned with upscaling or downscaling of results, while others use ‘zooming techniques’ to zoom in on empirical specificities and zoom out to broader contextual processes.

Finally, within human-environment research concerned with governing or steering transformation towards sustainability, there is an ongoing discussion of the role, necessity and appropriateness of different scales of research, action and intervention. This also involves discussions about understanding of the interplay between scales (e.g. between the individual and the collective) and the interactions that take place between different levels (e.g. between local and global). Certain issues are sometimes equated with and tackled on certain scalar configurations.

These broad challenges frame the three overall research objectives that we are currently discussing within the network:

  • The different understandings and assumptions which go into our different approaches to scale (e.g. spatial, temporal, organizational, etc.) and to scalar interactions (e.g. local-to-global and vice-versa).
  • The diversity of approaches to ‘scaling’ results, data and methods within different scientific traditions pose a challenge that we would like to explore in the interdisciplinary setting of the network.
  • How bridging scales and shifting the perspective of a particular human-environment phenomena may lead to new knowledge, and affect efforts to govern sustainability transformations.


Theresa Frommen
Organiser THESys Postdoc Network

Matthias Baumann
Co-Organiser THESys Postdoc Network