PhD students, post docs

On this page we proudly present our PhD students, researchers that have received their doctoral degrees and Post-docs within the BIOWATER umbrella. A large part of BIOWATER’s science is carried out by PhD students and post-docs, and they are therefore vital to the progress of the Centre.  

The PhD students are studying at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway; Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Norway; Swedish Agricultural University, Sweden; University of Aarhus, Denmark; and University of Oulu, Finland.

All papers relevant to BIOWATER is found in the BIOWATER Publication list.

Achieved degrees   

May 2020: Faisal Bin Ashraf, University of Oulu (Finland). Energy and water.

Title of thesis: River regimes and energy demand interactions in Nordic rivers.

Faisal has analysed the possible consequences of more renewable energy in the Nordic energy market, with focus on the impacts for hydropeaking and river regimes. (Hydropeaking is a way to operate a hydropower plant: Pulses of water are released to increase power production so that daily peak electricity demand can be met.). Faisal’s PhD was funded by the Nessling Foundation, but he joined our centre activities since his topic was highly relevant.  

See the news item on Faisal’s PhD here.

Supervisors: Dr. Hannu Marttila, Dr. Ali Torabi Haghighi, Professor Björn Klöve.

December 2020: Mette Vodder Carstensen, Aarhus University (Denmark): Mitigation measures

Title of thesis: “Multi-functionality and adverse effects of mitigation measures for water quality improvements in the agricultural landscapes”.

Mette studied mitigation measures that treat water from tile drainage systems, i.e. integrated buffer zones and different types of constructed wetlands. She has not just looked at single aspects of these mitigation measures, but rather approached them in a holistic manner, scrutinising both the beneficial and adverse effects of the measures. . Mette started her PhD in 2017, and has continued as a post.doc. in BIOWATER after she received her degree. 

Her PhD was fully funded by NordForsk.

See the news item on Mette’s thesis and the papers that went into it here.

Supervisors: Dr. Brian Kronvang and Dr. Carl Christian Hoffman.

September 2021: Bart Immerzeel, Norwegian University of Life Sciences: Catchment ecosystem services

bildet viser Bart Immerzeel , NMBU Bildet viser

Title of thesis: How green is the green shift? The potential effects of a bioeconomy on ecosystem services in Nordic catchments.

Transitioning to a bioeconomy will likely alter the way we use and manage river catchments. Working in modules 3 and 5, Bart’s research has focused on the effects of this transition on the delivery of ecosystem services. Since river catchments provide us with valuable services like food production, forestry products, clean drinking water and recreational possibilities, quantifying changes in ecosystem service provision is key to managing a sustainable bioeconomy. Bart’s work utilizes both economic methods and catchment modelling of nutrient and water flow to create an integrated assessment of effects.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. ir. Jan Vermaat (NMBU), Prof. dr. Gunnhild Riise (NMBU), Prof. dr. Artti Juutinen (LUKE).

Related news on BIOWATER: Co-authoring paper in our Special Issue in AMBIO. See also from his fieldwork: Multidiciplinarity with surprises.

Bart joined Biowater in 2017.

November 18, 2021: Hannah Wenng, Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy (NIBIO) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) (Norway): Impacts of agriculture and climate on water.


Title of thesis: Impacts of Climate and Agricultural Management on Hydrology and Water Quality. A Headwater Catchment Scale Approach.

Hannah explored data from well-monitored small Norwegian catchments to gain insight into processes of water and nutrient pathways. She has used data from the Norwegian monitoring network JOVA (water quality and discharge), as well as her own data from sensor and grab sample monitoring.

Supervisors: Prof. Tore Krogstad (NMBU), Dr. Marianne Bechmann (NIBIO), Dr. Eva Skarbøvik (NIBIO) and Dr. Hannu Marttila (Uni. Oulu).

Related news on BIOWATER: First author and co-author of papers in our Special Issue in AMBIO; co-author of paper on trends in 69 Nordic catchment; First author of a paper on understanding processes of sediments in rivers; and the news item on her PhD.

Hannah joined BIOWATER in 2018, and was funded by the Research Council of Norway.

PhD students funded by NordForsk

NordForsk funded five PhD students, of which two have received their degrees, Mette and Bart (see above).

Joy Bhattacharjee, University of Oulu (Finland): Peatland catchments under bioeconomy.

Joy B

Working title of thesis: Assessment of changes in hydrology and water quality from peatland catchments with future land use changes related to bio-economy.

Joy will use remote sensing methods and modelling to improve our understanding of processes in peatlands. If a future with bioeconomy will affect the land use in peatland areas, how will the water quality and quantity change? Drainage and restoration of peatlands are important key words in this study.

Supervisors: Prof. Bjørn Kløve and Dr. Hannu Marttila

Related news on BIOWATER: Use of satellite images to predict nutrient runoff; and mapping evolution of ditch networks.

Joy joined the Biowater Centre in 2017.

Maria Rajakallio, University of Oulu (Finland): Biological impacts of forestry.


Working title of thesis: Stream and riparian biodiversity in forestry-impacted watersheds

In her research, Maria aims to evaluate how clear cutting and land drainage affect diversity and functioning of headwater stream and riparian ecosystems. Also, the effectiveness of riparian buffer zones in the mitigation of negative forestry-induced effects is evaluated. Macroinvertebrates, microbes, bryophytes and vascular plants are studied as target organism groups and primary and bacterial productivity, microbial respiration, organic matter decomposition, water CO2 content and biofilm quality are used as measures of ecosystem functions.

Supervisors: Dr Jussi Jyväsjärvi (UOulu), Dr Jukka Aroviita (SYKE), Prof. Timo Muotka (UOulu), Dr Pauliina Louhi (LuKe).

Related news on BIOWATER: Clear cutting and land drainage harmful for biodiversity.

Maria joined the Biowater Centre in 2017.

Jelena Rakovic, Swedish Agricultural University (SLU): Understanding phosphorus processes in catchments and streams.

Working title of thesis: Understanding how biogeochemical processes in the river corridor modulate phosphorus concentration signals and fluxes in streams.

Jelena is studying controls on phosphorus in agricultural catchments, but she was also instrumental when BIOWATER developed their scenarios; the Nordic Bioeconomy Pathways, and was first author on the paper on this work.

Supervisors: Martyn Futter, Katarina Kyllmar, Dennis Collentine and Marc Stutter.

Jelena joined BIOWATER in 2017.

Related news on BIOWATER: First author of paper in our Special Issue in AMBIO.

PhDs with external funding (outside of NordForsk/Biowater)

Jonas Rolighed, Aarhus University (Denmark): Modelling phosphorus losses

Jonas Rolighed

Working title of thesis: Modelling phosphorus loss by leaching from Danish soils.

Jonas’ research will focus on the identification of agricultural soils with high risk of phosphorus leaching. Through empirical and process-based descriptions of phosphorus adsorption in the soil column, the goal is to develop a simple model to estimate the concentration of phosphorus in soil and drain water as well as a source apportionment model to quantify the most significant phosphorus sources of a given catchment.

Jonas will use data from four decades of soil samples from the Danish soil grid sampling network, the Danish agricultural monitoring program and local data from the Danish catchment Odense River to calibrate and validate phosphorus leaching models and source apportionment models.

Supervisors: Dr. Hans E. Andersen, Dr. Gitte H. Rubæk, Dr. Goswin J. Heckrath and Dr. Oscar F. Schoumans.

Joris Stuurop, Norwegian University of Life Sciences: Snowmelt infiltration and runoff


Working title of thesis: Snowmelt infiltration and runoff in areas with shallow snow cover, from point-scale to small-catchment scale processes.

The transition to a bioeconomy entails a change in land-use. At the same time, climate change will alter the inputs of water and energy into a catchment. Both changes will affect snowmelt – a hydrological event with particular importance in Nordic countries. A large amount of water is quickly released into a catchment during snowmelt, with consequences in terms of erosion and flood risk. By studying the processes that govern snowmelt infiltration and runoff, we will be able to better predict snowmelt hydrology under future climate and land-use scenarios. Through a combination of physically-based modelling and fieldwork, Joris will contribute to an increased understanding of meltwater flow pathways and the mechanisms that govern them, such as weather conditions, soil properties, land cover and soil freezing.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. Helen French (NMBU), Prof. Sjoerd van der Zee (WUR), Dr. Clifford Voss (USGS).

Sofie Gyritia Madsen van’t Veen, EnviDan A/S and Aarhus University (Denmark): Sensor monitoring

Working title of thesis: Sensors application for high temporal resolution monitoring in Danish streams (SENTEM)

Sofie will investigate new aspects and knowledge about the future use of BIG data collected with high resolution monitoring using nitrogen and turbidity sensors in streams and machine learning. Her project will provide useful information regarding the transport of nutrients and water quality in catchments as well as in overflows for use in future emission-based regulation. The project will develop an innovative method as well as guidelines for the use and quality assurance of BIG data in streams.

Supervisors: Esben A. Kristensen, Jane R. Laugesen and professor Brian Kronvang.

Sofie joined BIOWATER in April 2021. 

Post Docs at BIOWATER

Mette V. Carstensen (see presentation of Mette above) is presently a BIOWATER post-doc connected to University of Aarhus.

Former post-docs:Two more have been attached to the center, and have now moved on to new positions:

Fatemeh Hashemi, University of Aarhus (Denmark)


Fatemeh was a Post Doc at the Department of Bioscience in Aarhus University. Her research focuses on mitigation of nitrate leaching losses and nitrate transport at field and catchment scale, using both field methods and numerical modelling.

Fatemeh joined Biowater in autumn 2018 and left us for a fixed scientific position in 2019.

Hannu Marttila, University of Oulu (Finland).

image description

As a post doc, Hannu Marttila was Senior Research Fellow at the Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit in University of Oulu, Finland.

His research focus in Biowater was on catchment management and water protection in Nordic landscapes with increasing pressures from bioeconomy and biomass needs

Hannu was working as a post doc in Biowater since the start of the center in 2017, and is now assistant professor at the University of Oulu. He is still a member of the center, amongst others as a supervisor for BIOWATER PhDs.