Nicolai Brekenfeld

University of Birmingham


Forestry on the Edge: Hydrology and nutrient spiralling at forest groundwater – surface-water interfaces


Prof. Stefan Krause, Prof. David Hannah, Dr. Nick Kettridge, Prof. Kevin Bishop, Prof. Hjalmar Laudon

PhD Summary

I am working on the biogeochemical processes in the hyporheic zone – the zone of surface-water and groundwater interaction – of a forested headwater stream in Northern Sweden and Central England. Due to strong physical and chemical gradients, those zones exhibit high biogeochemical turnover rates, which have significant impacts on the water quality. I will try to understand, how those processes are influenced by the stream water and the groundwater, respectively.

What inspires you?

I have been fascinated by various aspects of the natural world since my childhood. In particular, I have been interested in birds and beetles as well as insects in general and plants.

Previous Activity

Before my PhD I worked on modelling the dispersion of an invasive, riparian plant species in the Rhone river catchment in France, after I had finished my master thesis about the sources of fluvial phosphorus in a lowland catchment in Northern Germany. I graduated in Ecohydrology as part of an international Erasmus Mundus Master Course and did my Bachelor in Biology, focussed on Limnology, in Germany.

Why did you choose Docotoral Research?

I decided to undertake Doctoral Research, firstly, because it gives me the opportunity to get comprehensive knowledge in my field of interest and secondly, because I can contribute to the scientific and societal demands in water related environmental sciences.

Why did you choose a CENTA Studentship?

I liked the concept that postgraduates in the environmental sciences had the opportunity to meet and potentially collaborate with their fellows, which are specialised in different subjects of the broader environmental science umbrella. This is supported by a wide range of interdisciplinary research courses and trainings, which can be used by the students to enhance their projects.