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Dr. Verena E. Foerster



University of Cologne
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Institute of Geography Education
Gronewaldstr. 2
D-50931 Cologne, Germany

Short profile
> Physical Geographer (Dr. rer. nat.), working in an interdisciplinary geoscientific context
> Currently: principal investigator of ICDP project Deciphering climate information from authigenic minerals
> Research Focus: climate reconstruction | establishment of climate proxies | human-environment interaction


Education and Academic Work

since 12/2016 Postdoc | University of Cologne | Full Researcher and Lecturer at Institute of Geography Education | Permanent Position (01/2019) | Part of COPA (Cologne Palaeoecology) Working Group (F. Schäbitz) | HSPDP team member | Associated member of the Collaborative Research Center CRC 806 Our Way to Europe

2014 - 2016 Postdoc | University of Potsdam | Institute of Earth and Environmental Science | Part of the Paleoclimate Dynamics Research Group (M. Trauth)

2013 - 2014 Postdoc | University of Cologne COPA Cologne Paleoecology Research Group (F. Schäbitz) | Chew Bahir Deep Drilling Project (HSPDP)

2010 - 2014 PhD student | University of Cologne | ICDP pre-study to HSPDProject

2009 - 2010 Graduate Researcher | University of Cologne | Department of Geography | Chew Bahir pilot core splitting, sampling, processing, Initial Core Description.

2007 - 2010 Junior Researcher | University of Cologne | Department of Geography Education

2004 - 2009 Studies in Geography and English at the University of Cologne | Empirical Thesis in Physical Geography (Palynology) | State Examination in Geography


Research & Projects

since 03/2018 Deciphering climate information from authigenic mineral transformations in the Chew Bahir sediment cores: Towards a continuous half-million year climate record from the Southern Ethiopian Rift | ICDP funded to V. Foerster | with cooperation partners D. Deocampo (Georgia State U) & C. Günter (U Potsdam)

since 2013 Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project | Chew Bahir site [Team member]

2013 - 2017 ICDP Project: The Chew Bahir Drilling Project: A Half-Million Year Climate Record from the Southern Ethiopian Rift, Crucible of Human Evolution [Team]

2010 - 2013 ICDP-pilot Project: Climate-vegetation feedbacks in the Chew Bahir during the last 50 kyrs in the Southern Ethiopian Rift [Team member, doctoral student]; DFG-funded: Ethiopian lakes – Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in the source region of modern man  [Team member]

2009 - 2010 Potrok Aike Maar Lake Sediment Archive Drilling Project (PASADO) ICDP-deep drilling project, southern Patagonia [undergrad.]


Field & Laboratory Campaigns, Training Workshops

2018 | 1 week: Southern Ethiopian Rift | modern analogues: Chew Bahir catchment and end-member sampling: proxy formation and catchment analysis | Field campaign

2018 | 10-days: Atlanta (Georgia) | Clay mineral identification and XRD data processing (Georgia State University) | Laboratory campaign

2015 | 3 weeks: LacCore, Minneapolis, USA | HSPDP Laboratory Campaign | core splitting |  logging | sampling | initial core description | compositing and Core Correlation

2014 | 6 weeks: Southern Ethiopia, Chew Bahir basin | deep drilling campaign - international deep drilling project: Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project | DIS | preparation, logistics, team communication & scientific organization at field site

2012 | 5 days: LacCore, Minneapolis, USA | ICDP Training Course on Lake Drilling |
Course on all relevant aspects in scientific coring in lakes and paleolakes.

2010 | 4 weeks: Ethiopia, Chew Bahir basin and Lake Chamo | scientific coring campaign and pre-study: core catcher analysis, core description, preparation of the field campaign, shipping and export

2009 | 3 weeks: GEOPOLAR Institute (University of Bremen) | International core opening party | processing | full core sampling | initial core description

2008 | 4 weeks: Southern Patagonia (Argentina) | ICDP Deep drilling campaign - International coring project: PASADO | Coring Laguna Potrok Aike | student assistant for field- and on-site analyses


Publications [peer-reviewed]

Fischer, M.L., Markowska, M., Bachofer, F., Foerster, V., Asrat, A., Zielhofer, C., Trauth, M.H. and Junginger, A., 2020. Determining the Pace and Magnitude of Lake Level Changes in Southern Ethiopia Over the Last 20,000 Years Using Lake Balance Modeling and SEBAL. Frontiers in Earth Science 8:197. doi: 10.3389/feart.2020.00197.

Russel, J., et al., 2020. ICDP workshop on the Lake Tanganyika Scientific Drilling Project: a late Miocene–present record of climate, rifting, and ecosystem evolution from the world’s oldest tropical lake. Sci. Dril., 27, 53–60, 2020,

Trauth, M.H., Asrat, A., Duesing, W., Foerster, V., Kraemer, K.H., Marwan, N., Maslin, M.A:, Schaebitz, F., 2019. Classifying past climate change in the Chew Bahir basin, southern Ethiopia, using recurrence quantification analysis. Climate Dynamics,

Foerster, V., Deocampo, D.M., Asrat, A., Günter, C., Junginger, A., Kraemer, H., Stroncik, N.A., Trauth, M.H.,2018. Towards an understanding of climate proxy formation in the Chew Bahir basin, southern Ethiopian Rift. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 501, 111-123, doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.04.009.

Trauth, M.H., Foerster, V., Junginger, A., Asrat, A., Lamb, H.F., Schaebitz, F., 2018. Abrupt or Gradual? Change Point Analysis of the Late Pleistocene-Holocene Climate Record from Chew Bahir, Southern Ethiopia. Quaternary Research (2018), 1-10, doi:10.1017/qua.2018.30.

Foerster, V., Vogelsang, R., Junginger, A., Asrat, A., Lamb, H.F., Schaebitz, F., Trauth, M.H., 2016. Reply to the comment on “Environmental change and human occupation of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya during the last 20,000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 129: 333–340”. Quaternary Science Reviews 141, 130–133, 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.003.

Foerster, V., Vogelsang, R., Junginger, A., Asrat, A., Lamb, H.F., Schaebitz, F., Trauth, M.H., 2015. Environmental Change and Human Occupation of Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya during the last 20,000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 129, 333–340.

Cohen, A.S., Campisano, C., Arrowsmith,R., Asrat, A., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Deino, A., Feibel, C., Hill†,A., Johnson, R., Kingston, J., Lamb, H., Lowenstein, T., Noren, A., Olago, D., Owen, R.B., Potts, R., Reed, K., Renaut, R., Schäbitz, F., Tiercelin, J.-J., Trauth, M.H., Wynn, J., Ivory, S., Brady, K., O’Grady, R., Rodysill, J., Githiri, J., Russell, J., Foerster, V., Dommain, R., Rucina, S., Deocampo, D., Russell, J., Billingsley, A., Beck, C., Dorenbeck, G., Dullo, L., Feary, D., Garello, D., Gromig, R., Johnson, T., Junginger, A., Karanja, M., Kimburi, E., Mbuthia, A., McCartney, T., McNulty, E., Muiruri, V., Nambiro,E., Negash, E.W., Njagi, D., Wilson, J.N., Rabideaux, N., Raub,T., Sier,M.J., Smith, P., Urban, J., Warren, M., Yadeta, M., Yost, C., Zinaye, B., 2016. The Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project: Inferring the Environmental Context of Human Evolution from Eastern African Rift Lake Deposits. Scientific Drilling 21, 1-16.

Trauth, M.H., Bergner, A.G.N., Foerster, V., Junginger, A., Maslin, M.A., Schaebitz, F., 2015. Episodes of Environmental Stability and Instability in Late Cenozoic Lake Records of Eastern Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 87, 21–31, doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.03.011.

Foerster, V., Junginger, A., Langkamp, O., Gebru, T., Asrat, A., Umer, M., Lamb, H., Wennrich, V., Rethemeyer, J., Nowaczyk, N., Trauth, M.H., Schäbitz, F., 2012. Climatic change recorded in the sediments of the Chew Bahir basin, southern Ethiopia, during the last 45,000 years, Quaternary International. Special Issue,


Invited talks

Foerster, V. (28. März 2018). Towards an environmental context of human evolution and dispersal -  Deciphering climate information from the Chew Bahir sediment cores (southern Ethiopia). Afternoon Seminar. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University (USA).

Foerster, V. (22. März 2018). Walking on sunshine or getting wet feet? New findings on the environmental context of human evolution from the Chew Bahir sediment cores Seminar. Georgia State University (USA).

Foerster, V. (29. Januar 2018). From mud and dust to curves and concepts: New findings on the environmental context of human evolution from the Chew Bahir sediment cores. University of Potsdam.

Foerster, V. and Junginger A. (27. November 2017). The eastern African paleoenvironmental context of human evolution and dispersal. Universität Bochum.

Foerster, V., (9. April 2015). Climate flickers in the crucible of Homo sapiens. Is there a connection between environmental variability and key developments in human history? “Soft Rock Lunch”, University of Minnesota.

Foerster, V., 2015. Chew Bahir: Project - Cores - Tephrochronology. Relevance of volcanic ashes for drilling projects. Session zur Tephrochronologie. Universität Potsdam.

Foerster, V., 2014. Umweltvariabilität im Spätquartär als Motor für kulturelle und technische Innovationen? 34. Jahrestagung  der  Afrikagruppe  deutscher  Geowissenschaftler/-innen (AdG) in Köln.