Let's get virtual!

With the spread of the corona virus early this year, our daily work has been massively impacted. Based in Bavaria, a hotspot of the German corona cases, we were urged to work from home from mid-March. Parts of our group were still travelling (e.g. Australia), but luckily came back in time savely. Others were planning to travel (e.g. Italy, Scotland, etc.), but meetings were cancelled, trips postponed. Germany went into a lock-down, closed its borders and gave a global travel warning.

And here we are :)

Being a group of optimists, we started to adapt. In various aspects.


Already before the crisis, we used Slack and - now Mattermost - as daily communication platform. This was extremely useful, when group members were travelling across the world. Now, Mattermost became even more valuable. We pushed joint paper activities into the virtual cloud, using shared Dropbox folders to work together on the same issues. Recently, Mark has also gathered Zoom licence allowing us to video chat for various reasons and Skype is used for 1:1 chats.


All of our meetings are now digital, ranging from stakeholder meetings, IFU administration meetings, group meetings and smaller working groups. Every two weeks, we gather and update each other in our virtual coffee meeting (sometimes even with drinks, see image below). Last week, our group held a joint retreat over two days together with the research group of Prof. Almut Arneth - 15+ participants. And it worked (thx to Zoom). We revisited our past performance and working activities and collected loads of new research ideas. So stay tuned.


Coffee/Beer meeting

Fig. 1: Our virtual coffee/drinks meeting


Virtual group meeting

Fig. 2: One of our regular group meetings.


We initially planned a workshop on global Agent Based Modelling to be held in Schloss Herrenhausen, Hannover during 27-29th May, hosted and sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation (link). Due to the corona crisis this meeting had to be postponed (date yet unknown). However, in order to use people's free diaries, we decided to make this a virtual workshop with a shortened but still exciting schedule. Attendees from all around the world have promised to join. We will let you know how this workshop went here on our website.

But, this crisis is also offering new opportunities. Richard, currently part of a special mentoring programme for early career scientist with the goal to become a junior research group leader, always struggled to participate in a series of workshops provided by KIT in Karlsruhe due to the long travel times (6h+ one way). Now, many of the courses and workshops provided will be done digitally, allowing Richard to attend those courses more easily now. Mid-May, he will attend the Grant Proposal Writing Workshop offered by Petra Pandur from Leadership Sculptor GmbH.


Travel restrictions are still up and any planning is tricky. For most of our group members, meetings were cancelled until November, making it difficult to catch up with peers. Karina wanted to join the EGU in Vienna this year (a mass gathering of over 10k+ scientists), but the conference was cancelled for obvious reasons. Interestingly, the EGU decided to hold a virtual conference instead. Karina is participating, presenting her new HILDA+ land use/cover model. Join the virtual EGU discussion (link) or have a look at our exclusive teaser video which Karina will present there (link).

Summer School:

Our summer school, a real gem in our teaching programme, got hit very hard this year due to the corona virus (link).

Filled with excursions, practical group work and many other activities, our summer school attracted many interested students and PhD's from around the world, also this year. After careful thoughts about the format and current situation, however, we decided to postpone this event to next year. Of course, all applicants from this year were informed and will get priority access for next year! We are looking forward to welcome you Garmisch in 2021.

And Otherwise?

- Our group grew by a really really tiny researcher. Welcome Ewon!!! Try to spot him in our Zoom meetings.

- Penelope won another grant (100% success rate so far). The "Klaus Tschira boost fund" enables her to conduct a series of experiments with bumble bees. Congratz, Penelope!

- Heera got invited as a lead author of chapter 3 (Different valuation methodologies and approaches) in IPBES Values Assessment (link). Great achievement!

- And yes, we are all very happy to live in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, allowing us to survive the lock-down with amazing landscapes and outdoor activities.

Stay healthy! Stay tuned!


Your Land Use Change and Climate Research Group

Mark Rounsevell

Read more …

Calum Brown

Read more …

Richard Fuchs

Read more …

Heera Lee

Read more …

Reinhard Prestele

Read more …

Bumsuk Seo

Read more …

Penelope Whitehorn

Read more …

Karina Winkler

Read more …