Environmental sciences under a single roof: ESA and WSG merge

Published on
November 23, 2022

New chair holders were appointed to two chair groups within the Environmental Sciences Group (ESG) as of 1 September 2022. Carolien Kroeze heads Environmental Systems Analysis (ESA), and Fulco Ludwig heads Water Systems and Global Change (WSG). As of 1 January 2024, the two groups will merge into a - yet to be named - new group under the joint leadership of Kroeze and Ludwig.

The Executive Board decided in favour of merging ESA and WSG in July 2022. The two research domains complement each other in the field of climate and ecosystems. For example, both groups develop large-scale environmental models of pollution. ESA focuses on air quality, soil quality and ecosystems, while WSG focuses on water, food and climate. In practice, water, air and soil are closely linked. Both groups have an interdisciplinary approach and collaborate with partners outside of the scientific community.

Great combination

Kroeze and Ludwig will spend the upcoming period ensuring the merger goes smoothly. The groups have a combined number of over 100 staff members who are already collaborating on research projects and education. This collaboration is expected to become increasingly intense. Thus, the groups will be able to further improve their education programmes on water, climate and environment.

Fulco Ludwig is enthusiastic about the merger between ESA and WSG: ‘This merger offers us new opportunities to work on solutions for the complex global issues through new, transdisciplinary research methods and the development of integrated models for water, food and climate.’ Caroline Kroeze agrees: ‘These two groups have much expertise in systems analyses of the major sustainability issues: climate change, water and food security and ecosystem services. One group now focuses mainly on water, while the other focuses mainly on air and soil. These are complementary themes, and that is precisely what makes the combination of these groups so perfect.’

New chair holders

Prof. Dr Carolien Kroeze obtained her PhD in environmental sciences from the University of Amsterdam and started her tenure at WUR in 1995. She has experience with both groups: prior to being appointed chair of ESA, she chaired WSG. She also serves as director of the Wageningen Institute for Environment and Climate Research (WIMEK), one of WUR’s six graduate schools. She will continue to head WIMEK after the merger.

Prof. Dr Fulco Ludwig obtained his PhD in Wageningen and went on to work as a researcher in the United States, Australia and Asia. In 2016 he was appointed professor at WSG. His research focuses on the impact of climate change on food, water and energy. At WSG, he develops future scenarios and models for climate adaptation. He also served as an advisor for the climate plans for the Mekong delta in Bangladesh.