Sustainable environmental management requires interdisciplinarity


Dr. Uwe Boester

Due to his military service, the period between graduation in 2008 and the beginning of his studies in 2009 was longer than originally planned for Uwe Boester. Enough time to have a look around the study program landscape. In 2009, this look around led Uwe to the open day in Aachen at the RWTH. Actually, it was supposed to be a study of chemistry or industrial engineering. However, the presentations of geosciences and in particular georesource management left a very positive impression and as a result Uwe enrolled in the bachelor's degree program in georessourcesmanagement (GRM) in 2009. Before that, contact with geosciences had been limited to an affinity for dinosaurs and fossils as a child. However, it quickly became clear to Uwe that the interdisciplinarity and versatility of the geosciences were exactly what interested him and what he wanted to make "his" science. Hardly any other scientific discipline offers a range of subjects, methods and interdisciplinarity comparable to the geosciences. This results in diverse, exciting and sometimes very specialized occupational fields. In addition, there are opportunities to learn, research and also work at home and abroad. In addition, it is always about the big questions of humanity and/or the great challenges of our time: climate change and sustainability.

In 2012, Uwe left Aachen for Norway. There he studied two semesters (ERASMUS) at NTNU in Trondheim. He then returned to RWTH for his master's degree and completed his master's in GRM specializing in environmental management. "The mix of legal, business, geoscientific and engineering content is what makes georesource management so appealing and allows for points of connection to many fields. With increasing interdisciplinarity, it has always been my impression that this generalist education is beneficial," Uwe says today. He wrote his master's thesis at the Department of Hydrogeology in 2015.

Subsequently, Uwe stayed at the institute for his PhD with Prof. Rüde and received his doctorate in 2022 on the topic of the usability of gadolinium as an environmental tracer for surface water-groundwater interaction. Since 2021, Uwe has been working at ahu GmbH in Aachen. There he works in the fields of water management and remediation of contaminated sites. His projects include hydrogeological system characterization in post-mining and wetlands/marshes, water concept development, and contaminated site management. About his current work Uwe says: "The range of the processed projects is large, it is about many technically exciting questions that have to be answered in practice and, if necessary, implemented in concrete solutions. I really appreciate this combination of scientific and technical expertise and the implementation of my own results in practice when working in the office. Particularly due to the broad education in the GRM study (georesource management), I now feel up to the interdisciplinary challenges of the working world and new, unknown problems. The broad education of the GRM program, including legal and business courses, prepares very well for project work in practice."

For Uwe, the studies and the doctoral phase form the prerequisites for his current work. Studying geosciences is the perfect subject for anyone who wants to work in an interdisciplinary way and is interested in issues relating to climate change, climate adaptation or our planet and the environment in general. Uwe would study georesource management again at any time, because beyond the technical expertise, the view for the related subjects and other perspectives is trained. The course therefore predestines students to know and understand different disciplines and to transfer them into joint action.

When Uwe thinks back to his student days, his activities in the university self-administration as a member and chair of the student council 5.3 GeoRes play a major role. The representation of students' interests in the university committees, the discussions between the university groups and the objective interaction have shaped him. "It was a good school for cooperation in associations and institutions. Everyone is recommended to contribute to the organizational-formal functioning of the university. This distinguishes the university from a school and promotes the personal responsibility expected of academics," he says. In addition to networking well with fellow students and becoming a more informed student, committee work leads to the strengthening of interpersonal skills, and for many it is also a first "leadership task."

Aachen is a beautiful city for studying and the professional and scientific level of the RWTH is internationally recognized. It is therefore even more important to take advantage of the opportunities that it offers. Uwe recommends that students emancipate themselves from a strict schedule as early as possible in their studies. Additional lectures and seminars that meet the students' own interests and, in addition to technical aspects, promote personality development, make up the decisive part of the university education. There are all kinds of opportunities for this at the university in Aachen, and the geosciences are a place where you can underpin this in a variety of professional ways.