Guest Blog

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Dr. James Thornton is a Senior Scientific Project Officer and Alexandrine Massot is a Scientific Project Officer at GEO Mountains.

Estefania Quenta is research associate at the Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz, Bolivia. Her research focuses on understanding the responses of mountain freshwater ecosystems to climate-related impacts such as glacier retreats and warming in the Andes. Moreover, she is an active member of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and its Bolivian chapter OWSD-Bolivia, involved in outreach and volunteer activities to raise awareness about the importance of mountains as the main water resources in Bolivia. She was a participant in the mentoring and training program in IPCC processes organized by the University of Zurich, MRI, Helevetas, ICIMOD and supported by the SDC.

Manuela Brunner is a Professor of Hydrology and Climate Impacts in Mountain Regions at ETH Zurich and at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos.

Olivier is an ecologist at the French Research Institute for Sustainable Development. Over the last 15 years, has been collaborating with Ecuadorian and Bolivian colleagues to better understand nature and people's vulnerability and adaptability to climate change in the tropical Andes. He lives in Quito, Ecuador and when he is not in his office at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, he is off observing and taking pictures of mountain wildlife.

Estelle Razanatsoa is a junior researcher at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  She explores the interaction between landscape history, land use, and climate change with a focus on the Past-Present-Future framework through an interdisciplinary approach. This is to explore biodiversity-friendly approaches to livelihoods and sustainable adaptation measures in Southern Africa.

Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, born in 1947, is an engineer by training. Following the completion in 1975 of his doctoral work on Physics of Metals, he shifted his research interest to environment and development in the Himalaya. In 1991, when he was a Senior Professions Staff at ICIMOD (Kathmandu), he was invited by the Geneva-based Secretariat of the Earth Summit 1992 to prepare a draft for the chapter on the world’s mountains for inclusion in Agenda-21. His main work has been on the creation of integrated knowledge for the governance of the river basins of the Hindu Kush Himalaya. E-mail:

Alice joined the Mountain Research Initiative in 2023 as an Assistant Project Officer, after completing a Masters in Sustainable Mountain Development. She also has experience of working in tourism research, marketing, and in hotels in the Austrian ski resorts of Sölden and Saalbach-Hinterglemm.

Kate Hanly is a PhD Candidate at the University of Calgary, working with Drs. Graham McDowell and Shawn Marshall to better understand mountain guides’ vulnerability and adaptability to climate change in the Canadian Rockies. She lives in Canmore, Alberta and when she isn’t studying, she is off exploring the mountains in her backyard.

This blog represents the interdisciplinary collaboration of several researchers with a focus on high-Andean ecosystems and/or high-Andean cushion peatlands. It is also part of the recent research project of MCGL at the University of Halle.

Heather Turnbach is a mission-driven storyteller with an international marketing communications career spanning over 10 years. In 2022 she joined MRI’s Coordination Office as its Communications Manager where she is responsible for implementing and enhancing the network’s communication strategy.

Dirk Schmeller is a research professor and holder of the Chair of Functional Mountain Ecology at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse (ENSAT). He has more than 25 years of research experience in the field of conservation biology.

Alexandra Rozoghina is an independent researcher. She is working on the construction of a photographic archive of the Caucasus glaciers. She can be contacted via her IG account.

Jonas Lembrechts is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence on Plants and Ecosystems (PLECO) at the University of Antwerp.

T.V. Padma is a science and environmental journalist based in New Delhi. Her reporting has been published in international and national publications, including Nature, Eos News, Chemistry World, and Mongabay-IndiaFollow her on Twitter @tvpadma.

Rolf Weingartner served as Chair of the Mountain Research Initiative for almost 15 years, before taking a step back at the end of 2019 in order to focus on other projects. He was previously Professor for Hydrology at the Institute of Geography, University of Bern, where he led the Group for Hydrology. 

Rolf was the driving force behind the project HADES, the Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland, a comprehensive scientific reference tool mapping and collating data on water in Switzerland. The result of a huge collaborative effort by Swiss hydrologists, HADES was launched by the Swiss government in 1988 as a means of providing essential information for water conservation and management. The original idea was first developed by Rolf  two years earlier as part of his PhD thesis – and he continues to lead the project three decades on.

Rolf also presides over the Hydrological Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

MRI Principal Investigator 2007-2010.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, University of Zurich.

Flurina Schneider is scientific director of ISOE, and professor in social ecology and transdisciplinarity at Goethe University Frankfurt. Her research focuses on learning and action for sustainability transformations, as well as on transdisciplinary research and science policy for sustainability. She graduated in geography, botany and law at University of Basel, and received her PhD and venia docendi from the University of Bern.

Theresa Tribaldos is Head of the Just Economies and Human Well-being Impact Area at the Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Her research focuses on transdisciplinary approaches in sustainability transformations, justice questions in food systems, food system transformations, and sustainable regional development in mountains.

Stefanie Burkhart works as a research assistant at ISOE within the research unit Transdisciplinary Methods and Concepts. She studied American Studies and Political Science as well as International Studies/Peace- and Conflict Research at Goethe-University Frankfurt and TU Darmstadt. Her research focuses on transdisciplinary biodiversity research, human well-being and ecosystem services as well as Science-Policy Interfaces.

Connor Dunleavy holds a degree in environmental science. He has spent two summer seasons living in Whittier, where he worked as a senior deckhand on a passenger vessel that made routine trips to the Barry Arm Fjord and elsewhere in the Prince Williams Sound.

Astrid Björnsen Gurung is Deputy Head of the Research Program Extremes at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL.

She was MRI Program Manager between 2003 and 2014.

This blog post on the MRI Synthesis Workshop on Treeline Spatial Patterns has been written by Prof. Maaike Bader from the Research Group Ecological Plant Geography at the Faculty of Geography, University of Marburg, Germany.

Gabrielle Vance is a geologist and editor from Alaska, U.S.A. As a Scientific Project Officer at the MRI Coordination Office, she organizes scientific projects and events, and manages the MRI Expert Database.

Gabrielle has a B.A. and an M.S. in geology from Whitman College and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, respectively. Throughout her studies, she edited scientific manuscripts and developed earth science curricula for projects funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

After completing her M.S., Gabrielle conducted scientific outreach for the University of Alaska Museum of the North and taught geology at the University of Alaska Southeast. Since moving to Switzerland, she teaches English, studies German, and profiles women in science. She also loves biking, hiking, skiing, swimming in the Aare, and vitaparcours.

Harald Bugmann was Assistant Professor of Mountain Forest Ecology from 1999 to 2004, followed by extraordinary professor of Forest Ecology. Since October 2009, he is Full Professor of Forest Ecology at ETH Zurich.

Born in Solothurn (Switzerland), he studied systematics and ecological biology at ETH in Zurich. After a M.Sc. in limnology, he obtained his Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Hannes Flühler and Dr. Andreas Fischlin at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology of ETH, dealing with the impacts of climatic change on mountain forests in the Alps. His dissertation was awarded with the medal of ETH in 1994. From 1994 to 1998, he worked on the regional impacts of climatic change at the Potsdam-​Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany. In 1998/99, he did research on the ecology of Rocky Mountain forests at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research in Boulder (Colorado, USA).

His main research interests are in the long-​term dynamics of forest ecosystems under environmental change, particularly successional dynamics in mountain forests and changes in the disturbance regimes (e.g. wildfires).

From 1997 to 2007, he was involved in various parts of the International Geosphere-​Biosphere Programme (IGBP), including the project Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems (GCTE), the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) and Human Impacts on Terrestrial Ecosystems (HITE). He was a Contributing Author or a Reviewer for the second, third und fourth Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Working Group II.

The PLOS Collections Blog provides a platform for Channels & Collection editors, authors and organisers – as well as the PLOS Channels & Collections Team – to blog about the research and commentary published in PLOS Channels & Collections.

Adrienne Grêt-​Regamey is an environmental scientist and landscape planner. She has been Professor at the Chair of Planning Landscape and Urban Systems at the Institute for Spatial and Landscape Development, ETH Zürich (Switzerland) since 2008. Currently, her research focuses on understanding how the interactions and/or actions of humans shape landscapes at various temporal and spatial scales, using different land-​use decision models in forecasting and backcasting modes. For fostering participatory landscape planning, she investigates how people perceive the landscape in the three labs, where state-​of-the-art 3D visualizations and auralizations of landscape changes are generated and decision support tools developed.

She also explores how an iterative process between design and science can allow co-​creating place specific responses satisfying human needs and demands for well-​being in a sustainable manner. For one of her recent research projects, the consortium was awarded the Swiss National Science Foundation Transdisciplinary Award.

In 2017, she received an ERC Starting Grant for the project GLOBESCAPE linking design and land system science to foster place-​making in peri-​urban landscapes. In 2018 she was finalist for the ETH ALEA Art of Leadership Award.

James has a broad background across the environmental sciences, and recently submitted his PhD thesis for examination to the Centre of Hydrogeology and Geothermics, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

In James’ previous role at JBA Risk Management Limited, he led the development of several natural catastrophe models – tools which are used extensively in the (re)insurance industry, and increasingly elsewhere, to quantify the risks associated with extreme natural events such as floods and tropical cyclones.

James Thornton joined the MRI coordination office in May 2020 as Scientific Project Officer to the GEO-GNOME project, which seeks to improve the availability and accessibility of environmental data in mountainous regions to the benefit of human societies globally. 

Heidi Steltzer is a mountain scientist and explorer. She is a lead author on High Mountain Areas for a 2019 IPCC Special Report. Since 2009, she has been a professor at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

Levan Tielidze is a PhD student at Antarctic Research Centre and School of Geography, Environmental and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington. The field of his research is modern glaciers and glacial-geomorphological studies of the mountainous areas in the Quaternary (Late Pleistocene and Holocene). Contact email:

Peter Deneen is the senior editor of GlacierHub. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the US Coast Guard Academy in 2009, spending the subsequent eight years as an active duty officer specializing in high seas narcotics interdiction. Peter earned his masters in Climate and Society from Columbia University in 2019. His articles have been published on Earther, Mongabay, and State of the Planet. Peter maintains a rigorous sourdough bread baking schedule and enjoys soccer, running, cycling, backpacking, and plastic-free living. He is a native of Ojai, California. Follow him on Instagram: @dancin.pete and Twitter: @pete_deneen

Dean of Academic Affairs at Nichols College and Professor of Environmental Science at Nichols College in Massachusetts since 1989. Glaciologist directing the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project since 1984. This project monitors the mass balance and behavior of more glaciers than any other in North America.

Sven Titz has been working as a freelance journalist in Berlin since 2005. He has been working as an expert for the TU Dortmund Media Doctor project since 2014. From February to September 2019, he worked as a substitute as an editor in the science department of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 

You can follow Sven on Twitter here.

Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, University of Dundee

I am a geoscientist with interests in glaciology, geohazards and the geomorphology of mountain environments. Much of my works focuses on understanding the mechanisms that shape landscapes (including glacial, fluvial and mass movement processes), as well as the response of glacial environments to climate change, including geohazards and risks posed by deglaciation (e.g. glacial outburst floods, landslides and water resource issues).

Fabian Drenkhan is a research associate of the Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics department of the University of Zurich. 

James is a plant ecologist within the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His research spans many fields including quantitative ecology, plant ecology, trait ecology, biosecurity and fire ecology. His passion is his work in the Australian Alps which focuses on the interactions between fire, climate change and vegetation dynamics.

Federica Ravera's current line of research focuses on the analysis of socio-institutional innovations, collective actions and the role of traditional and local knowledge in adapting to global environmental, cultural and socioeconomic changes, especially in agricultural and (silvo) pastoral systems of the Mediterranean context and high mountain regions (Andes and Himalayas). Through a perspective of feminist political ecology applied to studies of adaptation and resilience, her research is oriented to understand the dynamics of power that create inequalities, and the differential conditions that create new opportunities in the transformations of social-ecological rural systems.

From 2015, she has been participating in the group of experts of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Recently, she has obtained funding for a new research from a Gender-ERANET call on Gender and Climate Change (SEQUAL project 2019-2021).

She is a postdoctoral researcher and coordinator of the AGATA project (AXA European Research Funds) at the Chair of Agroecology and Food systems, at the Uvic-UCC, and has held research stays at the Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds (UK) with a pre-doctoral fellowship Marie-Curie Slodovoska, and the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the Mediterranean (ICAAM), University of Evora (Portugal), as the postdoctoral researcher. She has also been a two-years postdoctoral researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid and at the Basque Center for Climate Change in the Basque Country.

Susan Conlon's research interests centre on the political ecology of water use in campesino communities in South America, particularly the interface and tensions between understandings of water and livelihood practices and international development frameworks for water conservation and management.

Conlon is currently working on the NERC-AHRC project PARAGUAS - 'How do the Páramos store water? The role of plants and people'. PARAGUAS is investigating how people and plants are influencing water storage in páramos areas, which are the source of water for many in Colombia.

Kevin Lane completed his PhD in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge (2006). Subsequently he was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Manchester (2007-2009), a Sainsbury Visiting Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia (2010), and a Research Fellow of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Free University, Berlin, 2011-2012), before co-directing a large Leverhulme Research Project (University of Cambridge, 2012-2015). He currently directs a project on ancient Andean mobility funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation (2018-2020).

Lane was the Government of Gibraltar Archaeological Officer (2014-2016), before his current research post at CONICET - UBA, Argentina. He specialises in historical archaeology and heritage management with interests in landscape archaeology, political ecology, ancient hydraulic technology, communities, identity and frontiers, especially the impact of contact and colonisation.

Jay Mistry is Professor of Environmental Geography at Royal Holloway University of London and Co-Director of the social enterprise Cobra Collective CIC. Her research interests lie in environmental management and governance, with a commitment to a social-ecological approach and working in collaboration with other academics, governments, civil society organisations and Indigenous communities.

The central concept running through her work is that environmental management and governance should not be top-down implementation of external expertise, but must involve active local participation building upon local and Indigenous knowledges and practices.

Her work converges environmental and social science methods, within a framework of participatory action research using participatory video. She has long-term research collaborations with Indigenous communities in Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela.

Marilen Haver is a PhD student and early-career researcher working within the P³ project. She investigates key parameters in large scale mountain hydrology that are related to the health of aquatic ecosystems across the four mountain ranges of the P³ project. She uses a modelling approach to describe mountain watershed functioning as well as to gain insight into how abiotic parameters (such as T°, water flow, pollution distribution) can influence the distribution and the ecology of amphibians and their living habitat.


Gvantsa Salukvadze (1992) is a Ph.D. candidate in Human Geography at Tbilisi State University, Georgia. For over four years, as a young scholar, she has primarily been working to promote sustainable and inclusive tourism development in mountainous Georgia. Throughout those years, she has been part of several impactful scientific research projects funded by Volkswagen Foundation, Austrian Development Cooperation, Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation, etc., Furthermore, she has contributed to the development of a normative scenario for sustainable land-use in the greater Caucasus with German and Georgian scholars. In the interim, Gvantsa made the grade in an academic career at leading international universities and institutions.

Temur Gugushvili (1991) holds a master’s degree in Sociology, completed with honors, from Tbilisi State University. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate at the same University. Temur has long-term continuous work experience in both international and local research projects. During his career, he has been mostly focused on encouraging the changing vector from agriculture development to rural development through different scientific and methodological approaches. His topical areas of interest include sustainable livelihood practices in rural settlements with various contexts, such as urbanization, tourism development, protected areas, and climate change. His academic performance has been recognized with great success, for which he has received several fellowships from leading scientific institutions and societies.

Created in 2018 at the University of Lausanne, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mountain Research (ICMR) aims to strengthen knowledge on mountains specific issues such as climate change, land planning or economic vulnerability in a changing context. The Centre supports research approaches specific to natural and social sciences by promoting interdisciplinary research projects and scientific events.

Iago Otero, Coordinator,

Emmanuel Reynard, Director,

Université de Lausanne
Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur la montagne
Ch. de l’Institut 18 CH–1967 Bramois

Julia Klein is a member of the MRI Science Leadership Council and Assistant Professor at the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University in the USA.

Tomoya Iwata is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Yamanashi. He specializes in the ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry of freshwater ecosystems. His main research topic is food webs and biogeochemical cycling along the land-to-river-to-ocean continuum.

Written by Sharon George, Lecturer in Environmental Science at Keele University, and Carolyn Roberts, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership at Keele University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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GRID-Arendal was established in 1989 to support environmentally sustainable development by working with UN Environment and other partners. GRID-Arendal communicate environmental knowledge that strengthens management capacity and motivates decision-makers to act. GRID-Arendal transform environmental data into credible, science-based information products, delivered through innovative communication tools and capacity building services. GRID-Arendal 's vision is a society that understands, values and protects the environment on which it depends. 

Dr Sue Taylor is a development specialist with experience in biodiversity conservation and a strong interest in how climate change will impact on biodiversity, ecosystems, protected areas and African human society – and in particular, the communication of these issues to a wider audience. Sue originally trained as a microbiologist and plant biotechnologist before moving into the biodiversity conservation sector where she worked as a research manager in provincial government in South Africa.  Through AfroMont, she will be researching a new topic: the governance of large ecosystems, specifically mountains, and also setting up a project to explore microbial ecosystems, climate change and mountains.

Aino Kulonen is Scientific Project Officer at the MRI Coordination Office in Bern. Her work includes promoting and supporting global change research in mountains through coordinating scientific projects, organising events, and managing the MRI Expert Database.

As the current Executive Director of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), Carolina Adler is tasked with overseeing the work of the MRI Coordination Office, as well as connecting, coordinating, and promoting global change research agendas and supporting regional and thematic networked collaborations in mountains worldwide.

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