Plenary Speakers

Using stable isotopes to decipher enigmatic animals

Dr. Christian Voigt is head of the Department Evolutionary Ecology at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research ( and lecturer at the Freie Universität Berlin.

His group studies how animals cope with the challenges of life, and how to best protect wildlife in an ever changing environment. In his research he targets mostly European and African wildlife. Specifically, Dr Voigt is interested in understanding human-wildlife conflicts with the ultimate goal of turning conflict into coexistence. He has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited two open-access books on conservation research ( After finishing his studies in zoology with a diploma, he conducted doctoral research at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Multiple research visits at Boston University guided him to use stable isotopes as a central method in his research to understand the physiology and ecology of animals. After postdoc stays at Boston University and Cornell University he started his research career at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, where he established the stable isotope laboratory, and where his group organizes the biennial international summer schools on stable isotopes in animal ecology.

Omnivores are a Big Dilemma: Insights from Compound Specific Amino Acid Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes with just a touch of Hydrogen Isotopes.

Dr. Noreen Tuross is the Landon T. Clay Professor in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Currently, she is focused on interpreting diets and mobility in a number of ecosystems and is interested in how the unique behavior of that most important group of omnivores-humans-is reflected in isotopic systems.

Spatial and temporal isotopic histories reveal patterns in animal migration and ecology

Dr. Hannah Vander Zanden is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Florida, where she also earned her PhD in 2012. In between, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah and then at the US Geological Survey. Her research centers on tracking animal migration patterns and trophic ecology while addressing issues in ecological theory, conservation, and management. Many of her studies have employed the analysis of stable isotopes to understand spatial distributions and resource use in a variety of organisms—often species in peril—in both marine and terrestrial environments. She has also contributed to improving methods and analytical tools for modeling geographic origin with stable isotope data.

Using Compound-Specific Stable Isotope Analysis of Fatty Acids in Ecological Studies for Site-Specificity, Food-web Untangling and Investigation of Metabolic Processes

Dr. Matthias Pilecky is post-doc at the WasserCluster Lunz Biological Research Station. His research focuses on how animals cope with changing environments and adopt their metabolism to sustain tissue functions. Specifically, Dr. Pilecky is interested in lipids as essential part of the neuronal membranes and how environmental factors influences cognitive functions. For his research, he routinely applies compound-specific stable isotopes of 2H and 13C as markers and published several peer-reviewed articles on that topic. After finishing his studies in biological chemistry, he spent several years in medical research, first in private companies after which he conducted doctoral research at the Donau-Universität Krems. After finishing his PhD he joined the research group of Dr. Martin Kainz at WasserCluster.

Tracing carbon flow through the terrestrial-aquatic-atmospheric continuum
(Virtual Plenary)

Prof. Susan Waldron is Director of Research and Skills at Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK, since January 2020, where she is responsible for research programme generation, policy, funding, and delivery in the domains of Discovery Science, Talent and Skills, and International Partnerships. Susan joined NERC after a 25-year career at the University of Glasgow where she held a chair in Biogeochemistry. Her background is in Geology and Earth Systems Processes - and particularly carbon and nutrient transfer from terrestrial to aquatic systems and in disturbed landscapes to understand carbon storage and losses and where isotope systematics have been invaluable in tracing carbon flow. Early on she was initiated into stable isotopes via an internship before turning to Earth systems science and developing techniques to analyze carbon and hydrogen stable isotopes of methane to characterize sources to methane to the atmosphere. Susan has collaborated with many ecologists on stable isotope applications before returning to her interest in tracing carbon and nutrient flows in aquatic ecosystems, and more recently drawing on natural 14C as a tracer in her ecosystem research. Her presentation will focus on field research in stressed environments to show the power of understanding generated by using stable and radiocarbon isotope measurements as tracers of carbon flows, and the importance of contextualizing this understanding for other disciplines to generate new understanding that can be used to inform environmental management.

At the interface between land, atmosphere and ocean: the Anthropocene as seen through the lens of coral skeleton stable nitrogen isotope records

Dr Nicolas Duprey is a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. Nicolas earned his PhD in paleo-oceanography and paleo-climatology at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC/Paris 6) in 2012, before subsequently moving to Hong Kong (HKU, 2012-2016). Nicolas’s research is focused on analyzing the ratio of the stable isotopes of nitrogen of the organic matter trapped inside the crystalline structure of coral skeleton. The information garnered from these ratios can be used to infer a wide variety of information; from the history of oxygen minimum zones to the subtleties of coral symbiosis. Skeletal records of coral-bound nitrogen isotopes provide an invaluable perspective on the marine Nitrogen cycle and coral biology. Beyond these insights, coral-bound nitrogen isotopes also reveal how the ocean and coral reefs respond to global changes, providing insight into the future of coral reefs. His current work focuses on characterizing the variability of the Eastern Tropical Pacific and of the Southwestern Indian Ocean by taking seawater and coral samples.