From Munich via Bergen and Savannah to Neuglobsow at Lake Stechlin

Stella Berger: A portrait of the LakeLab manager.
Stella Berger with a light measuring device. © IGB

Although I am a true Bavarian, I have finally ended up north of the ‘weisswurst*’ equator. However, already during my doctoral thesis I realized that Northern Germany has much to offer. In 2001, I studied 45 lakes in Schleswig-Holstein and compared them with 25 lakes in Bavaria. I wanted to know how different environmental impacts would affect the physical, chemical and biological processes in lakes – a topic that is still intriguing me.


To compare different lakes is one possibility to find answers to that question. Another one is an experimental approach in so-called mesocosms that are comprised of several experimental units in a lake such as the LakeLab. These facilities enable one to modify certain environmental conditions in order to analyze the response of aquatic organisms. Since 1997, I am exploring freshwater and marine plankton dynamics with such mesocosms, although they have always been much smaller than the LakeLab. Here at IGB-Stechlin, the mesocosm research achieves a new dimension: the size, the number and the instrumentation of the mesocosms is very progressive. Therefore, after research years in Norway at the University of Bergen and in the USA at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, it was only fitting for me to apply for the position as LakeLab Manager in Stechlin.


I am responsible for a smooth operation of the LakeLab  including the link between the lab technicians and the scientists: i.e. which samples should be taken and which analysis methods be used? Moreover, I am interested in developing my own research topics. I focus on primary producers (phytoplankton) and its interactions with the consumers (zooplankton) under different environmental conditions. Does the phytoplankton community composition change with global warming? Will the amount of algal blooms increase? Do the organisms have the capacity to adapt to the climate change?


Indeed, I have chosen the right profession. I travel a lot and meet many interesting people. It’s a good combination of office, lab and field-work. That’s what I like! And the natural environment is particularly appealing here: such a landscape with forests, pristine lakes and only few inhabitants is not easy to find in Germany. As an aquatic ecologist I feel at home among all the beautiful lakes and I’m happy to work at the well-equipped IGB Stechlin. By the way, I have discovered some places serving Bavarian beer and soft-pretzels…


* Weisswurst is a typical Bavarian veal sausage.

Stella Berger

has started her position as «LakeLab Manager» at IGB Stechlin in March 2014. Since the beginning of 2016 she is working as Scientific LakeLab Coordinator and as head of the group «Experimental Plankton Ecology» focusing on phytoplankton. Stella carried out her doctoral and postdoctoral studies at the University of Munich (LMU) and changed to the University of Bergen in Norway in 2009 where she got involved in the EU project MESOAQUA (research collaboration between the leading marine mesocosm facilities in Europe). Between 2011 and 2014 she was appointed as scientist at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah, Georgia, USA.

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