Dr. Martin C. Lukas Receives the CAMPUS AWARD

The very first winner of the CAMPUS AWARD is Dr. Martin C. Lukas, who received the accolade for his doctoral thesis on the multifaceted relationships between the causes and effects of land utilization in coastal areas of Indonesia. The CAMPUS AWARD is awarded in recognition of outstanding theses in the thematic area of sustainable use of natural resources as well as protection of the environment, the climate, and the ocean. From now on, the prize worth 2,000 euro is to be awarded annually by the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT, the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), and the University of Bremen.

During the celebratory event held for around 100 guests at ZMT, the jury praised geographer Dr. Martin C. Lukas from the University of Bremen’s artec|Research Center for Sustainability for his dissertation dealing with the complex causes of soil erosion and sediment deposits in the rivers and coastal ecosystems of Java – one of the central environmental problem issues facing the Indonesian islands and other tropical regions.

Indeed, a vast number of natural and anthropogenic factors play a role here, many of them little researched. In his dissertation, Martin C. Lukas investigates the issues on hand using the example of the Segara Anakan Lagoon and its catchment area on the Indonesian island of Java. Speaking the local language, the Bremen researcher actually travelled to the area to interview local inhabitants and political authorities on the spot in an attempt to find out why measures undertaken against soil erosion and sedimentation have largely failed.

Study on the changing human-environment system on Java

The study’s central focus is on the sensitive, fast-changing human-environment system encompassing Java’s largest remaining mangroves and ecologically valuable species and habitats. Despite volumes of studies, years of intervention and millions of dollars’ worth of investment by international funders, the sedimentation continues virtually unchecked. Until now, very little has been known about the social causes of the detrimental processes. Martin C. Lukas was able to show that the slow progress has been at least partially due to false assumptions, so-called ‘environment myths’.

The jury, comprising Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll and Reiner Stoll of the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION, ZMT Director Prof.Dr. Hildegard Westphal, Prof.Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge, leader of the Social Science Department at ZMT, Prof.Dr. Andreas Breiter, Vice President Research, Prof.Dr. Justus Notholt, Professor für Remote Earth Sensing (both University of Bremen) and ZEIT journalist Fritz Habekuß (knowledge desk), assessed the submitted theses in accordance with CAMPUS AWARD criteria and subsequently selected the winner. Nominations came from a variety of Faculties of the University, from Production Engineering, through Social Sciences up to Marine Biology, mirroring the multifaceted approach to sustainability research on the campus.

The jury gave grounds for its decision with the following comments: “Martin Lukas’ dissertation stands out owing to the reflected expertise, many examples of successful transfer, and the sustainability of its research approach. The bandwidth of methods and interdisciplinarity is convincing. Martin Lukas applies cogent social and natural scientific techniques in equal measure”.

“The thesis pursues an approach that sheds new light on the problem, seeking and revealing causes on the political level. It constitutes research that is as courageous as it is relevant for everyday political research and enlightenment in the best sense of the word. Moreover, it addresses a problem of high environmental relevance, and not only for Indonesia”, said Prof.Dr. Hildegard Westphal, Director of ZMT, who hosted the prize-giving event.

“The research done by Martin Lukas makes an elementary contribution to better understanding the rapid, socio-ecological change on Java. He confutes conventional attempts at explanation, revealing them as ‘environment myths’, and sheds new light on the driving forces of change”, added Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll and Reiner Stoll, chairpersons of the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION FOR CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT.

Praise for the study’s social relevance and interdisciplinary approach

Prof.Dr.-Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter, President of the University of Bremen, praises the socio-political relevance of the thesis: “The findings produced by Martin Lukas explain the lack of ecological and social sustainability of past intervention and constitute a major contribution to further debate concerning more sustainable ecological and social management approaches”, he says.

Martin C. Lukas combines the approaches and methods applied in research on history, Earth observation, cartography, and the social sciences. For instance, he not only reconstructs the fast growing sedimentation processes in a historical perspective, but also analyzes the impact of changing land use and other environmental changes as well as their causes over the whole catchment area of the lagoon. His research stretches across a spectrum from political regulation to the repercussions of war, civil wars, and land use.

In her laudatory speech, Prof.Dr.Anna-Katharina Hornidge stressed the interdisciplinary approach evident in Martin C. Lukas’ research, saying: “The dissertation submitted by Dr. Lukas stands out especially for the profound empirical depth that provides the basis for interdisciplinary, multiperspectival analysis. With great personal commitment, Dr. Lukas performed what is often referred to as ‘field research in difficult contexts’, thus making an important contribution to breaking with disciplinary approaches based mainly on Western empiricism”.

In the evening, the prizewinner gave a graphic presentation and overview of his research results. “I hope that my disclosures concerning the numerous conflicts surrounding land and forest resources will lead to political pressure being brought to bear in an attempt to resolve the conflicts. Finding a solution to these historically rooted problem issues is not only of central importance for sustainable management of the soil, forests, catchment area, and coastal zones: It is also an urgent prerequisite to pursuing the (fragile) democratization of Indonesia”, he explained.

Dr. Martin C. Lukas went on to say: “Receiving the award is a great honor for me. I am most grateful to the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION, the sponsors, the jury, and everyone else who was involved in organizing today’s award event and who have given me so much encouragement and support – my thanks goes especially to Prof. Dr. Michael Flitner, who supervised my doctoral thesis”.

About the CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a sustainable future

The “CAMPUS AWARD: Research for a sustainable future” is awarded to early-career researchers who produce outstanding doctoral theses on the theme of sustainability using an innovative approach and use of methods to produce research findings of practical relevance. The award, which is endowed with 2,000 euro, is sponsored by the KELLNER & STOLL FOUNDATION CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT, the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), and the University of Bremen as well as the Bremen firm REETEC and ADLER Solar and the University of Bremen’s Alumni Association.

If you would like to have more information on this topic, feel free to contact:

The prizewinner:
Dr. Martin C. Lukas
artec|Research Center for Sustainability
email: martin.lukasprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de
Phone: +49 421 218-61851

Contact person ZMT:
Andrea Daschner
Leader of Press and Public Relations
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT)
email: andrea.daschnerprotect me ?!leibniz-zmtprotect me ?!.de
Phone: +49 421 23800-72

Contact person University of Bremen:
Kristina Logemann
Leader of University Press Office
University of Bremen
email: kristina.logemannprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de
Phone: +49 421 218-60155

Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll
email: campuspreisprotect me ?!t-onlineprotect me ?!.de
Phone: +49 421 230569

Gruppenbild mit Männern und Frauen bei Preisverleihung
Von links: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter, Dr. Rita Kellner-Stoll, Reiner Stoll, Prof. Dr. Hildegard Westphal, Fritz Habekuß, Dr. Martin C. Lukas, Prof. Dr. Justus Notholt und Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge.