Department Environmental Toxicology


One of the great challenges of humanity is to protect our water and organisms living therein from physicochemical environmental contamination of toxicological concern. In light of this challenge, at the Department of Environmental toxicology we aim to understand how freshwater organisms respond to chemical stress in combination with physical and biological challenge in their environment. In particular, we seek to discover the molecular mechanisms responsible for toxicity in aquatic organisms, explore adaptive and toxicological response pathways upon exposure to stressors and study the ensuing consequences for populations and ecosystems.

The scope of our research encompasses the key aspects of stressor-organism interactions, namely stressor exposure levels, toxicokinetic processes and toxicodynamic processes. Quantification of exposure in conjunction with the development of a mechanistic understanding of the underlying processes comprise a core strength of our research. Accordingly, our interdisciplinary team encompasses expertise from physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and bioinformatics, which allow us to perform state-of-the-art experiments on different aquatic biological systems, accurate inorganic and organic chemical analysis, and analyze the resulting data with mathematical modelling.

We want our work to have meaningful consequences for environmental protection and for increasing public awareness of environmental problems and we dedicate a substantial part of our activities towards this goal. Complementary to and based on our mechanistic research, we develop methods and tools that help identify and lower toxicological risks and reduce animal testing in environmental risk assessment. We also reach out to the expert public, for instance by organizing practice-oriented courses, and to the general public by frequent communication with the media on issues of environmental concern and recent research advances.

Our department is divided into five research groups: