Born and grown up in Northern Germany, the seas have played an essential role in my life from the early beginning. I spent unforgotten summer holidays at the island of Helgoland, grabbed for worms in the Wadden Sea, and learned to swim in the Baltic. But beside these bright and sunny memories, I have still the intrusive smell of phenol in my nose which used to rise up from the Elbe River. After school, my plans were to become a veterinarian, but as part of the babyboom-generation it was nearly impossible to get a place at the university. Thus, I first became a nurse and then a technical assistant. This profession led me to the „Biologische Anstalt Helgoland“, directly into the heart of marine research, where I found my real mission.

The emerging interest of ecotoxicology

After one year working  as a technician in population  genetics, I decided to  study biology  and journalism at the University of Hamburg. Beside my studies, I worked as a student assistant in a research project on the development of indicators for the impact assessment of marine pollution. During this period in the early 90s, I saw lots of flatfish suffering from liver cancer due to the exposure to  environmental  contaminants.  I  decided  to  concentrate  my  scientific  work  on  the  effects of pollution on marine organisms to participate in the amendment of the release of chemicals into the aquatic environment.
With the end of my studies, I started to work as a scientist in several international research projects on this subject. My main focus was on the effects of contaminants on the immune system of fish and the integrated monitoring of contaminants and their effects. I worked in the North Sea, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, until I finally found my way to the Baltic Sea in the year 2000 when I started to work at the Alfred Wegener Institute for polar and marine research in Bremerhaven. It was the EU-project „BEEP“, Biological Effects of Environmental Pollution, which lead me there. The Baltic Sea environment turned out to  be  highly  sensitive  and susceptible  for the adverse impacts of pollutants. Here, my specific interests were on the assessment of combined effects of different anthropogenic and natural stressors.

Previous work

I  worked  in  several  ICES  expert  groups  on  pollution  aspects  and  environmental  health,  and participated in the first HELCOM holistic assessment of the Baltic Sea in 2010. In co-operation with colleagues from various countries, I developed an index and software as tools for decision making to facilitate the assessment of pollutant impact and environmental quality. For this purpose, threshold values and assessment criteria have been established. Beside my scientific activities, I participated in the foundation of the IMARE institute for marine resources where I was the deputy head of the department Biodiagnostics in 2008. From 2010 on, I taught  Toxicology  at  the  technical university  of  Bremerhaven,  before  I  changed  to  the  Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency of Germany (BSH) as deputy head of one of the German EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) secretariats.

My role in the Baltic Eye

When I heard about the Baltic Eye project, I decided immediately to apply for the position as expert for Baltic Sea pollution and its effects. This project is promising and challenging and I look forward to provide my knowledge and experience to participate in the success of the Baltic Eye and its ideas.