Thorsten Wagener


Water is life. We drink it, wash and cook with it, but we also need it to supply power and for industrial production. So, an adequate supply of water is essential to us. Too much water can, however, threaten our existence. Particularly in times of climate change and irregular rainfall, models that explain and predict how and when hydrologic extremes like flooding and drought come about are in great demand. Models that use mathematics to describe hydrologic processes and dangers are Thorsten Wagener’s research field. His methods for reducing uncertainty in hydrologic modelling and prediction have set standards in his research area – and not just there. A software developed by him and his team is now also used worldwide, for example, in the insurance sector and engineering.
What’s more, water knows no boundaries. International, interdisciplinary cooperation is very important to Thorsten Wagener. He wants to establish hydrology as a key science that can deliver important insights into the role of water events in spreading infectious diseases and into the local impacts of climate change.

With research institutes such as PIK (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) and GFZ (German Research Centre for Geosciences), Potsdam already provides a unique research infrastructure for climate and environmental topics. Here, Thorsten Wagener is set to play key role as a Humboldt Professor. The University of Potsdam is thus striving to join the international vanguard of water research. It is planning a new Potsdam Research Cluster for Water, Environment and Society as a global hub for research, innovation and teaching to secure water supplies under changing (climatic) conditions.

Thorsten Wagener has been selected for the Humboldt Professorship and will now embark on appointment negotiations with the German university that nominated him. If the negotiations succeed, the award will be conferred in 2021.

Nominating University: University of Potsdam

Prof. Dr. Thorsten Wagener

was born in Germany and has been Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering at the University of Bristol, UK, since 2012. After attending university in Siegen and Delft (Netherlands), including a period spent in Ethiopia, he completed his doctorate at Imperial College London in 2002. He then relocated to Pennsylvania State University in the United States, where he became an assistant professor in 2004 and an associate professor in 2009. Thorsten Wagener has received many honours, such as the Humboldt Foundation’s Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award and the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award; he is co-editor of various journals, a member of the European Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.