I am inspired by the scientific opportunities offered by the unique LakeLab

Stella Berger: A portrait of the LakeLab manager.
Jens Nejstgaard. © IGB





Dr. Jens Christian Nejstgaard has been working as the «scientific coordinator» of the LakeLab since March 2014. Together with his colleagues at IGB, he seeks to establish the LakeLab as a leading international research platform for experimental lake research. Born in Sweden, he has worked as a research scientist at the University of Bergen in Norway for over 20 years before he became an associate professor at the Skidaway Institute for Oceanography at the University of Georgia in Savannah, USA. After three years he decided, however, to return to Europe, tempted by the challenge to bring the LakeLab up to speed.


I grew up in Sweden spending much of my time on rivers and lakes near the Swedish west-coast, where I later studied biology, geology and oceanography at the University of Gothenburg. Soon I was attracted by the sea and moved to the University of Bergen, Norway, where I completed my degree in marine biology and started research in the fjords and seas around Norway. Over the years I have studied organisms as small as viruses and as big as fish, focusing on understanding how complex biological communities and ecosystems function in different climates and under different natural and human influences. This has taken me to places ranging from Alaska, the South Atlantic Bight, Svalbard, the Bay of Biscay, the Eastern Mediterranean and Lake George.


At Lake Stechlin I look forward to delving into exciting experimental research on lake responses to large-scale environmental change. I am particularly inspired by the prospect of cross-fertilization between concepts and methods established in marine and freshwater science, which I believe creates much scope for new important discoveries. One fundamental question that intrigues me and is still unresolved has been at the fore of aquatic ecology for over 100 years: who-eats-whom-when-and-why in the natural environment.  Beyond such food-web interactions I strongly believe that it is important to develop a global approach to understand global problems as a basis to improve our management of the world’s aquatic ecosystems.


For more than 20 years, I have used large-scale experimental platforms (mesocosms) as research tools to study aquatic ecosystems as a whole, especially at the now oldest continuously operated aquatic mesocosm facility in the world at the University of Bergen, where the first experiments were carried out in 1978. Here I also coordinated the EU research project MESOAQUA, assembling a network of leading European marine mesocosm facilities, This was a highly rewarding experience that motivates me to build larger networks across Europe and worldwide covering environments from mountain streams and lakes to estuaries and the open ocean.

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