My Habilitation in Urban Ecology. The end of a long, long journey

On the 23rd of June 2021, I gave my habilitation lecture putting an end to a very long process of academic qualification. The habilitation in Germany is the academic degree (a sort of doctorate of a doctorate) required to become a professor. Officially the title is Privat Dozent (PD) and is mandatory for those willing to take a seat as a professor in a German, Swiss or Austrian University. The habilitation procedure is long and hard, lasting for several years where high-level postdoctoral training is required, with evidence of peer-reviewed publications, lecturing and conference presentations. The formal requirement is the presentation of a thesis (monograph or cumulative) and a lecture on a particular topic not contained in the thesis, followed by a colloquium where university members ask several questions to test the teaching ability of the candidate. I did a cumulative thesis gathering together 13 articles around a central core idea that is framing my transdisciplinary expertise. Wisely advised by my mentor Prof. Dr. Harald Zepp, I have chosen Urban Ecology (Stadtökologie) as my venia legendi, the subject that I love and now I am allowed to teach.

Receiving the habilitation certificates with the Dean (rigth) and my mentor (left).

My thesis was approved by the faculty by unanimity and was informed by two internationally renowned scholars, plus the positive review of my mentor. I am happy and proud of such a thesis, especially because I never thought I will write another one after my PhD. It gave me the opportunity to profoundly reflect upon the last several years of research around a common question and understanding, from which I have formed a new approach to my own research. Here is the resume and index. I am happy to share the full text if somebody is interested to have a look.

Biomass and technomass are highly entangled at all scales. There is nothing unnatural about New York city.

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De la ciencia, las ciudades, los animales y otras cosas. Conversando con Rodrigo Bravo

Esta semana tuve el gran placer de conversar con mi amigo (personal 🙂 ) Rodrigo Bravo, que conduce un entretenido programa de entrevistas a expatriados, gente que comparte la experiencia de haber dejado su pais natal y haber comenzado una vida en el extranjero. Pudimos tocar algunos temas interesantes, conversar de cosas mas personales y tambien algunas reflexiones de la vida cotidiana. Hubo varios temas que me hubiera gustado compartir, como mi fascinacion con la filosofia epicura y porque creo que es fundamental para nuestro futuro, el alto excepticismo y pensamiento critico que guia mi vida o la coherencia que …

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Goodbye Leon

Today has been a special day, a very sad day. Our ecosystem services community has received the terrible news that our beloved friend Leon Braat has died after a short but severe illness. It is hard to accept. Only a few days ago I was chatting with him, and although he was suffering from pain, he remained optimistic. I received the bad news today in the morning and I just stop working. His departure deeply affected me. I took the day off. I cried, a lot, unexpectedly. I like so much my friend, but I realize that I never told …

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Metabolism & Urbanisation? New publication in Cities

I put my bet into scientific integration, conceptual and operational tunning, transdisciplinary integration, rather than compartmentalization of knowledge. I have been for long trying to integrate urban metabolism with urbanisation research, using a materialistic – i.e. technomass based – approach. This last piece, of which we are very happy, is an attempt in that direction. It provides a path to understand not only how urbanisation might arise from the metabolism of the urban ecosystem, but also showcase how this is rather a planetary process, highly hierarchically organised. I am always happy to share a copy, just write me an email.

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¿Que son, realmente, los servicios ecosistemicos?

Aun cuando en general siempre estoy atento siguiendo la investigacion que se hace en Latino America, y en idioma castellano en general, este año puse un poco mas de interes en ver que es lo “que hay alli afuera” en materia de servicios ecosistemicos, esta vez poniendo mas atencion a los canales sociales de diseminacion del conocimiento, como blogs y youtube. A decir verdad quede sorprendido por el nivel de desinformacion y confusion conceptual que encontre. Es cierto que el concepto de servicios ecosistemicos despierta incomodidades no solo en nuestra lengua castellana, lo he presenciado muchas veces, tambien es cierto …

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The Homogenization of cities in the world

Regardless of location, culture and even size, cities in the world depict similar trends in terms of the evolution of their spatial structure in time. As surprising as this statement might sound, we have recently compiled empirical evidence analyzing a sample of 194 cities over 25 years span, from 1990 until 2015. The article was published last week in Landscape and Urban Planning. I would be happy to share a copy with anybody interested to read. That cities are homogenizing is not surprising in urban ecology. Is almost common sense that we can find the same species of birds, small …

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Studying Ecosystem Services at the Ruhr University Bochum

Within the Master Program Transformation of Urban Landscapes (M.Sc) I have been teaching Ecosystem Services using a practical approach, learning by doing. The students are free to choose a topic to develop a practical application, a spatially explicit assessment of Ecosystem Services. We have prepared a video interviewing our 2019 master students, asking them to share their experience.

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Changing paradigm II

These days I have been thinking about my fundamental question, our relationship to nature. The predominant paradigm understands humans and society as a separated body acting from outside and damaging a hopeless nature. That paradigm has its origins in creationist believes, where humans were created as a distinct and special part of the universe. That vision, inherited from religious approaches, still has a subtle influence in the way science shapes its understanding, even though most of the scientific advancement of the XIX and XX centuries has been systematically demonstrating that humans do not have any special place in reality. We …

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Special Issue “Remote Sensing of Urban Form” – Open for submission!

We have recently launched an exciting Special Issue (SI) on “Remote Sensing of Urban Form”. Here you can find the full SI description & scope, the instructions for submissions and other relevant information. Deadline for submission is due April 2020. I am looking forward to receiving your contributions!

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