Dr Bastian Steudel: Be curious about nature

September 23, 2021

“I hope to establish a lab with enthusiastic students and look very much forward to do lab experiments with microcosms and field studies. Suzhou is situated in a former swamp area, between the Tai Hu and the Jangtsekiang river. Thus, this is very interesting for aquatic ecology and I am keen to explore these areas by myself during the next years. ”Dr Bastian Steudel who has just joined xi 'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University as a teacher in environmental science department said. He was born in Kassel, a town situated quite in the middle of Germany and was interested early in biology. During his biology studies at the university of Goettingen, Dr Steudel focused more on biodiversity patterns and correlated species richness and endemism patterns of more than 3000 plant and animal species from the Andean slope of Bolivia with climate factors in his diploma thesis. He then focused on the effects of biodiversity to ecosystem functioning under stress in the PHD studies and was involved in different projects, including one on the functioning of microbe communities along a humidity gradient in Chile as Postdoc.

Dr Steudel was always interested in a broad variety of topics. In his free time, he also traveled to South America a few times to study nice orchids.

“As it is very difficult to think about a single topic for me for the whole day, I use this as a recreational time. Often, I need to go out for a walk to think about how to plan my experiments and studies.”

Research field

During the first semester at XJTLU, Dr Steudel will teach Env214, Aquatic Ecology which is also the aspect that Dr Steudel most interested in. On the once hand aquatic systems are very diverse, on the other hand, aquatic ecology is often underrepresented as most areas of the world are aquatic and about half of photosynthesis is done by algae but there are much more terrestrial ecologists than those studying aquatic systems.

“The area of biodiversity- ecosystem functioning is very appealing to me. I think it is very interesting to explore the mechanism which are responsible for these biodiversity effects. This is not only of academic interest, it is very crucial for ecosystem functioning.This is a very broad topic, and I need to look at this from different angles. There are a lot of possible single approaches to address these, and I think that we should start with the most urgent.”

One threat to human health is the toxin producing cyanobacterium Microcystis. This species forms so called algae blooms in some years, sometimes producing very potential neurotoxins and hepatotoxins. Normally, a diverse ecosystem buffers against the blooming of a single species. Why this buffering effect is now more often than in the past destroyed, leading to algae blooms, is a very interesting topic to me. However, the mechanisms of ecosystem functioning need to be studied from different perspectives and he hope to continue collaboration with colleagues from different disciplines.

“In my opinion, the most important ability to do research is to be curious. This applies not only to environmental science. If you are interested in studying ecosystems or natural processes, you need to address specific questions.”

sometimes we need to think broad to study one narrow object, Dr Steudel expressed that XJTLU have a lot of different thoughts and insights which is the benefit of an international university. He mentioned that we are living in a changing world and there is urge to address a lot of environmental issues in the near future. Therefore, students need to be open so they can identify a topic in which they are really interest and gives some suggestions to the students.


“Try not to focus on the exam but ask what this topic may contribute to your interests. I expect that students should learn to be open to the vast amount of environmental topics which need to be faced in the future. First, have an open mind to the topics in the lectures and use the possibilities we offer. Second, focus on one of the topics you are interested in and continue to work on it.”

The opportunity to work in an international team was one of the main reasons to join XLTLU. Further, the research environment, regarding laboratory and the situation of the university at major aquatic structures is an el dorado for an aquatic ecologist. Dr Steudel hope to establish a team to do research on the above mentioned questions and also look very much forward.

By Luyao Wang

September 23, 2021