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Alexandra Klein: work, inspiration, and tips from her time as a guest researcher at BECC

A photograph of guest researcher Prof. Dr. Alexandra Klein

BECC regularly welcomes guest researchers to work in areas within its scientific framework, with the aim to further strengthen the research and research groups. Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein is head of the Chair of Nature Conservation and Landscape Ecology at the University of Freiburg in Germany, who recently finished her timer as a BECC guest researcher.

Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein from the University of Freiburg in Germany is an ecologist with more than 20 years of experience in bringing research to policy and society at large. She was a BECC guest researcher in November 2023 – April 2024. In this short interview she shares some of her overall experiences from her time at BECC, and gives some valuable tips from her appreciated talk at the BECC annual meeting.

What have you mainly worked on during your time as a guest researcher? 

Since I arrived in mid-November I have been busy doing many different things. For example, I have:

  • Implemented the project and prepared the Kick-off symposium of my pan-European project „RestPoll – Restauration of Pollinator habitats across European agricultural landscapes based on multi-actor participatory approaches”. The symposium had 53 participants across Europe and the US with participation from both CEC and BECC. 
  • I had to respond to more than 200 comments of the German Farmers’ association to a political report
  • I wrote to summarize the scientific facts of biodiversity changes in the agricultural landscapes of Germany. Based on these comments I had to revise the report. It was extremely helpful for me to discuss the comments of the farmers’ association with BECC and CEC researchers.
  • I have participated in writing several EU-proposals, two of them with researchers of the University of Lund. 
  • I worked on the text and figures of my crop pollination book and found a publisher. 
  • I also found the time to travel to Chile and China. In Chile I attended a workshop where, among other things, the role of ecological societies and research institutions in solving environmental problems was discussed. In China I organised two symposia.

In your experience, what has been the greatest scientific benefit of being a visiting researcher within BECC?

I would say that the high interdisciplinarity of BECC and CEC, the collaborative and inspiring atmosphere and the stakeholder perspective have all been of great value.

There are always researchers of different disciplines available to discuss research ideas and findings. Especially comfortable is that many of the researchers are working close to each other or meet in the kitchen area, creating opportunities for discussions. What is also exciting with BECC and CEC is that researchers of other research Institutions from across the globe are frequently visiting seminars or give talks, which inspired me to think outside the box and leave the comfort zone of my main research subject.

I also believe that so many early-career and high-profile researchers are visiting BECC and CEC because of the collaborative, relaxed, and inspiring atmosphere the center is providing. Finally, and overall, BECC inspires scientific breakthroughs by considering a balanced view of research across disciplines. And, even more importantly, by reflecting on stakeholder challenges and views from the bottom of the research idea to the top of the implementation of research findings.

Picture of Prof. Henrik Smith, coordinator of BECC with Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein
Prof. Henrik Smith, coordinator of BECC with Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein

At the BECC annual meeting, you gave an appreciated talk with useful tips on how researchers can make an impact on society, based on your own experience. If you were to repeat three of the most important tips, what would they be?

My talk was especially addressing ERCs (Early Career Researchers) and for them I would recommend the following three points:

  1. Follow the logics of your research out of curiosity and fascination to build up a unique research area and avoid switching research topics being unconnected to each other.
  2. Do basic and/or applied research important for society, preferably with your own research money as this gives you most flexibility to build up your unique research area.
  3. Leave your comfort zone to build up a network of researchers and stakeholders across disciplines and countries of the global north and south.

How will you continue your collaboration with BECC after you go back to the University of Freiburg?

I worked with BECC researchers before, but I found new collaborators to develop research proposals and to jointly supervise students or being part of their thesis examination board. As some BECC researchers are part of the RestPoll project, we will meet regularly after my stay in Lund. I will sign up for a BECC membership and I am planning to return for shorter research visits (up to 3 months, next in 2025) to follow up regular research exchanges.

More information

More information about Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein -
More information about RestPoll -

Interested in becoming or inviting a BECC guest researcher?

BECC researchers are welcome to apply for support through BECC funds and facilities to invite guest researchers to work in areas that fall within the scientific framework and interests of BECC. It could also be for own short guest research visits, either to a BECC-environment outside their own university or for a BECC PhD-student to an external university. Learn more on the link below:

BECC funding for guest researchers –