Steering Committee

CURT was initiated by a small group of founding members in Berlin and Melbourne. This committee has been instramental in the foundation of our program and will continue to support and take part in future developments. Here we introduce these pioneers and offer some insight into their research focuses.

Committee Members

Dr. Amy Hahs

Senior lecturer for Urban Ecology and Urban Horticulture in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Services at the University of Melbourne (UniMelb).

Amy’s research uses a comparative approach to understand how environmental, cultural, social and technical factors influence urban areas over space and time, and how this affects the ecology of plants and animals in those landscapes. Her approach combines research and practice to understand how we can actively integrate this knowledge into the planning, design, construction and management of cities to help develop resilient and biodiverse ecological systems where people live and work.

You can reach Amy at amy.hahs [at] or see her profile with the Green Infrastructure Research Group (GIRG) here.

Dr. Tanja M. Straka

PostDoc researcher within the Department of Climatology and Plant Ecology at the Technical University of Berlin (TU).

Tanja completed her PhD in 2015 at ARCUE (Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology), c/o University of Melbourne, where she got to know Amy. Now a PostDoc at the TU Berlin, Dept. Climatology and Plant Ecology interested in urban biodiversity and climate and incorporating human dimensions in urban ecology research. Tanja also has a background in zoology and has worked extensively with bats.

You can reach Tanja at tanja.straka [at] or click here to visit her website.

Prof. Dr. Nick Williams

Professor for Urban Ecology and Urban Horticulture in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Services at the University of Melbourne (UniMelb)

Nick is an ecologist, working predominantly in urban areas because although they are the cause of many of the world’s environmental problems, cities offer humanity great hope for a sustainable future. He has >20 years of urban ecology and urban greening research experience and is recognized as an international expert in these fields. Nick seeks to understand urban biodiversity patterns and ecosystem processes and develop applied solutions to reduce negative impacts of urbanization. Current projects include work on green roofs, grassland restoration and biodiversity in streetscapes. Nick co-leads the (GIRG) at UniMelb and applies his knowledge as President of Friends of Merri Creek, a volunteer community which has lead significant restoration efforts on the Merri creek since the 1980’s.

You can reach Nick at nsw [at] or see his profile with the Green Infrastructure Research Group (GIRG) here.

Prof. Dr. Jonathan M. Jeschke

Professor at the Free University of Berlin (FU) and group leader at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB)

Jonathan is head of the diverse Ecological Novelty research group at the IGB and FU. Having worked for many years in the realm of ‘invasion ecology’, Jonathan is the person to ask concerning dynamics in species introductions in urban environments. Jonathan is particularly engaged in research on freshwater systems.

You can reach Jonathan at jonathan.jeschke [at] or see his profile at the FU here.


Chente Ortiz, M.Sc.

Research assistant at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and CURTinator in Berlin

Chente is a North American invasive from Florida and recently completed his Master’s at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where he studied fish biology and freshwater ecology. For the last few years Chente has worked part-time for Die Junge Akademie, as well as in and around the Leibniz-IGB with different working groups. Currently working on an evidence map project, concerning conditioning interventions in human-wildlife conflict. Chente is passionate about applied freshwater conservation. He also likes to play ultimate frisbee and wander around the Tempelhofer Field in the evenings.

You can reach Chente at c.ortiz [at] or see his profile at the IGB here.

Julia Schiller, M.Sc.

PhD candidate with the Green Infrastructure Research Group at the University of Melbourne (UniMelb).

Julia is originally from Berlin, though she has managed to master the Melbourne accent after just a few years as a doctoral researcher in Australia. Her research is concerned with ecological connectivity in urban areas, focusing on urban bees and how they benefit from green roofs. Julia is our #CURTinator from down-under and can write up a winning grant proposal with two cats balanced on her shoulders.

You can reach Julia at julia.schiller [at] or see her profile with the Green Infrastructure Research Group (GIRG) here.

Simon Sebastian Moesch, M.Sc.

PhD candidate between the Humboldt (HU) and Free (FU) University of Berlin, also partnering with the Leibniz-institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW)

Simon’s research in urban wildlife is so multifacited that he is somehow a member of three different working groups in Berlin. He is interested in human perceptions and interactions with urban wildlife and how this affects management. He is obsessed with beavers and likes fantasy literature. Simon is also one of our #CURTinators and a self-proclaimed fries-fluencer in Berlin.

You can reach Simon at simon.sebastian.moesch [at] or check out his website here.