•  Dr. Ina Säumel in front of a tree

    Dr. Ina Säumel, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Brain City Ambassador Dr. Ina Säumel has a wide variety of interests. It was already that way at school. Even today, the graduate ecologist (PhD) crosses interdisciplinary boundaries: as head of the Multifunctional Landscapes Working Group at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s (HU Berlin) Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRITHESys). IRITHESys is one of three integrative research institutes (IRIs) founded by HU Berlin as part of the funding for science and research provided by the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. 

“We create knowledge for use in practice and not just for the desk drawer”, says Dr. Ina Säumel firmly. “After all, one plus one can be more than two”. What the researcher, who works on “multifunctional landscapes” at the HU Berlin, means by this is: broadened perspectives and horizons of experience lead her and her team, together with every stakeholder – from citizens to mayors, from family farms to the CEOs of transnational corporations – to new research questions and innovative solutions that benefit everyone. “We develop guidelines, planning tools and optimised land use models for application and economic exploitation. And we’re opening up new knowledge regimes with the aid of citizen science, for example in schools: we promote a participatory and emancipating emergence of knowledge, with children as curious scientists and the informed citizens of tomorrow”. 

Ina Säumel’s research focuses on examining landscapes using a holistic approach. She is concerned with multifunctional strategies for the development of healthy, biodiversity-friendly and sustainably productive urban and rural landscapes. “We don’t exclude any discipline or perspective and consider all stakeholders as a ‘community of knowledge & practice’. We scientists are part of this community”.

One of the projects Ina Säumel is currently leading at the HU research institute IRITHESys is the project EdiCitNet. Here, the focus is on integrating harvest space solutions into urban spaces with the aim of creating liveable, sustainably productive cities. In doing so, Ina Säumel repeatedly breaks down disciplinary boundaries. Because the scientist is convinced: “Knowledge creators have to get out of the comfort zone of their own discipline, of their own ivory tower, and find solutions that are more applicable and suitable in practice. In doing so, they should grapple with completely new dimensions of knowledge and also with uncomfortable research questions”. 

Berlin is curious, uncomfortable, complex and diverse. The ideal location for transformation research.

More ambassadors