Prof. Dr. Karin Frank


Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Department of Ecological Modelling

Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig

Bld. 1.0, Room 206

Tel.: +49 341 6025-2535
Fax: +49 341 23545-2535

Prof. Dr. Karin Frank


The focus of my research is on modelling the structure, dynamics, functions and stability properties of ecological, eco-hydrological and social-ecological systems under the influence of global change (esp. climate, land use and institutional change). I am particularly interested (i) in providing insights into complex environmental problems related to grand challenges of the society, their functioning and induced chances and risks, (ii) in identifying (management and policy) options for their sustainable solution, and (iii) in developing respective model-based tools for decision-support. Topics are e.g.

  • Survival and spread of species and species communities under habitat loss, fragmentation and environmental fluctuations, with implications for biodiversity conservation;
  • Performance of regulating ecosystem services under multiple stressors (climatic, chemical and biological stressors), with implications for contaminant degradation, eutrophication control or the biological pump;
  • Sustainability of natural resource use in drylands; influence of uncertainty (rainfall variability, drought, eco-hydrological feedbacks); key factors of resilience; chances and risks of novel technologies and institutions; with implications for climate adaptation and poverty alleviation
  • Land use aspects of transforming the energy system; influence of markets, policies and socio-environmental context on allocation decisions and their impacts; concepts for conflict mitigation; with implications for the spatial design of sustainable renewable energy systems.

I have methodological expertise in spatial, stochastic, equation- and rule-based approaches of ecological modelling, agent-based social-ecological modelling, the integration of organismic and matter flux aspects, and the combination of theories, modelling and experiments / case studies. Synthesizing conceptual and methodological reflections are integral part of my work.

My Activities at the University of Osnabrück

Curriculum Vitae


Diploma in Mathematics, University of Leipzig
Promotion (Dr. rer. nat.), Mathematical Physics, University of Leipzig
1992 -
Scientist at the Department of Ecological Modelling (OESA) at the UFZ
2004 - 2007
Co-Head of a Junior Research Group “Ecological Economics”, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation
Habilitation (Dr. habil.), Applied System Sciences, University of Osnabrück
2010 -
W2 Professorship in “Ecological Modelling”, Joint appointment of University of Osnabrück and UFZ
Helmholtz Management Academy; Certificate of Malik Management Systems St. Gallen

Recent responsibilities at the UFZ

Head of Department of Ecological Modelling (OESA)
Spokesperson of the POF III Integrated Project “Land use aspects of transforming the energy system” (EnergyLandUse) of the Helmholtz Program “Terrestrial Environment”
Spokesperson of the Board of the UFZ Graduate School HIGRADE

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Graduate education

Modelling and integration gain increasing importance in solution-oriented environmental research. Therefore, the next generation of decision-makers in all environmental fields has to be provided with these skills as early as possible. I follow a comprehensive structured approach and facilitate (undergraduate and graduate) teaching, supervision and (UFZ-wide, national and international) capacity building in ecological and social-ecological modelling using our scientific networks.

Memberships in scientific panels

  • Member of the Selection Panel of the PhD Fellowship Program of the     DBU (since 2010)
  • Founding member of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (    iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig (since 2012)
  • Member of the External Advisory Board of the U.S. National Socio-Environmental
    Synthesis Centre (SESYNC), Annapolis, MD (since 2012)


Latest Publications:

Full List of Publications: Publications