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Session 1C: After the floods 2021

Session 1C: After the floods 2021

After the floods 2021: why and how to shape resilient infrastructures

Organisers: Jens Ivo Engels and Nadja Thiessen

Wednesday 7 September 15:30 – 16:45

Presenters and discussion panel members:

Managing Flood Risk in Times of Climate Change

Swenja Surminski, LSE London (United Kingdom)

Swenja Surminski is Managing Director Climate and Sustainability at Marsh McLennan, a member of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change – Adaptation Committee, and Chair of the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative. She also holds a research post at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

A political scientist and ecological economist by training, her work embraces environmental, social and economic perspectives, with a focus on urban communities and the private sector. Swenja is a contributing author to the IPCC, and was lead author of the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessment 2 and 3. Her work focuses on capacity building, translation and knowledge transfer between science, policy and industry, building on her work in the insurance industry and as advisor to governments, private sector and civil society, including as Visiting Academic at the Bank of England. She appears regularly in print, TV and online media.

Damages at Bridges along the Ahr River

Lisa Burghardt, RWTH Aachen (Germany)

Lisa Burghardt began studying environmental engineering at TU Darmstadt in 2015. For her Master’s degree in Sustainable Management – Water and Energy, she transferred to RWTH Aachen University and completed her Master’s thesis on water quality simulation at the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management. There she has been a Research Associate since February 2022 and works in the BMBF KAHR project (Climate Adaptation, Flood and Resilience), which focuses on the scientific monitoring of the reconstruction processes after the flood disaster of 2021. Here, she is specifically observing the damage to bridges along the Ahr River and supporting future planning processes with numerical simulations of the runoff events.

Infrastructure Failures and Coping Strategies of Citiziens during the 2021 Flood in Germany

Michaela Leštáková, TU Darmstadt (Germany)

Steffen Haesler, TU Darmstadt (Germany)

Nadja Thiessen, TU Darmstadt (Germany)

Michaela Leštáková is currently a Ph.D. student at the Chair of Fluid Systems at the Technical University of Darmstadt, where she had also obtained her M.Sc. degree in Mechanical and Process Engineering. She is a member of the LOEWE centre emergenCITY, an interdisciplinary project which zooms in on digital cities in crises. Her research focuses on resilience assessment of water distribution networks as well as on information and knowledge sharing in cities. She is also involved in the research data management project NFDI4ing that brings novel data management approaches into engineering sciences.




Steffen Haesler, M.Sc. is a research associate and PhD student at the Chair of Science and Technology for Peace and Security (PEASEC) in the Department of Computer Science at Darmstadt University of Technology. There, he is active in the LOEWE center emergenCITY.

The research interest is in the area of digital self-organization of citizens in crisis. Here, in particular, in the usability and resilience (e.g., independence from ICT infrastructure) of solutions to improve crisis resilience before a crisis, but also the management of a crisis. He studied Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Hamburg (B.Sc.) and Human-Computer Interaction at the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg (M.Sc.). During his master studies, he completed an extended research internship at the University of Central Florida. Prior to his studies, he worked as a consultant and project manager on ERP integration projects in logistics, retail and industry. In his spare time, he was involved in youth work in the scouts organization in Hamburg for a long time and was active there in various roles, from youth group leader to chairman. He was also volunteering in refugee aid in Würzburg.

Nadja Thiessen works as a postdoctoral researcher at the chair for “Modern and Contemporary History” under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Jens Ivo Engels. Her research focuses on learning from past disasters and the use of historical experiential knowledge for coping with crises.

Before joining LOEWE-Center emergenCITY, she was part of the Research Training Group KRITIS. She received the B.A. (2013), M.A. (2016), and Ph.D. (2020) degrees in History from Technical University of Darmstadt.