Lecturers and trainers

Jörg BALSIGER, PhD (Environmental Science, Policy and Management), is Swiss National Science Foundation Professor at the Department of Geography and Environment and the Institute of Environmental Sciences of the University of Geneva. Previously he held positions at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, and the European University Institute in Florence. Prof. Balsiger has a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. During several years, he worked in international development, providing expertise in forest policy and administration, donor coordination, and capacity building to nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, national ministries and the private sector in the Central and Southern Africa, East and Southeast Asia. His research is located at the intersection of international relations, political geography, and organizational sociology, with a special focus on regional environmental and sustainable development politics and policy, including in transboundary mountain regions. He currently coordinates a large research project on the nature and dynamics of pluriregional environmental governance in East/Southeast Europe and East/Southeast Asia, and he is the coordinator of the "Sustainable Caucasus" project from which emerges this Summer School.

Olga SOLOMINA is the Director of the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and an expert in paleoclimatology and glaciology. She studied glacier fluctuations and paleoclimate in the Caucasus, the Alps, Pamir-Alay, Kamchatka, Tien Shan, Altay, Polar Urals, in the Andes, in Sakhalin, in the Arctic and in Antarctica. She is a Lead Author of the 4th and 5th Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climatic Changes (Chapters “Paleoclimate” and “Cryosphere”). She also served as a vice-chair of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) and was a member of the PAGES Steering Committee. Dr. Solomina  is the author of two books and more than 100 scientific articles in Nature Geoscience, Nature Climate Change, Quaternary Science Reviews, Global and Planetary Change, Climate Dynamics, and many others.

Raisa GRACHEVA, PhD (Geography), is Leading Researcher at the Department of Soil Geography and Evolution, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. Her main specialization is soil geography; she studied soils of the Far East, the North Caucasus and Georgia, the Appalachians, East-European Plain and other regions; author of several soil maps in the Atlases of Russia and the world. Her current scientific interest is in land use transformation and its consequences for mountain society and environment. Has experience in socio-economic survey in mountain local communities, study of transformation of land use and land tenure in the Caucasus and Balkans, multidisciplinary and multi-level diagnostic of development potential of mountain regions.

Olga GLEZER, PhD (Geography), is Leading Researcher at the Department of Social and Economic Geography, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. She has extensive experience and is one of the most qualified experts in regional and local studies, geodemography, settlement patterns, geography of local governance and regional legislation. She has studied local communities in the Caucasus, Central Russia and other regions. She is Scientific Secretary of several Geographical Programs and Scientific Councils and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the journal Regional Research of Russia, published in English by Pleiades Publishing, and Executive Secretary of the journal Proceedings of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Geographical Series, published in Russian.

Tatiana KUDERINA, PhD (Geography), is Senior Researcher, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. She specializes in landscape geochemistry, water and air pollution. Some of her projects are related to the scientific assessment, diagnostics and indicating of desertification processes in countries affected by land degradation. She is a Coordinator of the Program and projects of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Kuderina has authored 30 scientific papers. Her study areas include Central Russia, Caucasus, Kamchatka, Central Asia, Altay, Arctic zone.

Alexander KOSHKAREV, PhD (Geography), is Senior Researcher, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. His main scientific interests are in GIS, digital mapping, and spatial data infrastructures. Alexander Koshkarev is author of more than 10 monographs and textbooks and hundreds of articles. He is a member of Technical Committee 394 "Geographic information/Geomatics", Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology.

Andrey MEDVEDEV, PhD (Geography), is the Head of the Cartography Department, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. He specializes in GIS, multimedia cartography, web-cartography and remote sensing; gives course in GIS-techologies in the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Geographical Faculty. Project leader and executive in charge of the programs and projects of the Russian Academy of Sciences and research foundations. Author of 50 scientific papers, 97 conference reports, 17 scientific projects. A member of two journals' editorial boards, 13 program committees, member of twocommissions in the International Cartographic Association and the International Geographic Union. His study areas include the Caucasus mountains, Central Russia, and the Arctic.

Ramiz MAMMADOV is the Director of the Institute of Geography, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Academician of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. His main scientific research interests are related with the Caspian Sea, hydrometeorology, oil pollution, landscape planning and desertification problems. Ramiz Mammadov is author of up to 300 scientific works, 10 monographs, 20 international projects and 2 atlases. He represents Azerbaijan in scientific and ecological structures of such international organizations as the United Nations, EU, UNESCO, etc.

Bettina WOLFGRAMM, PhD, is Associated Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Development and Environment (CDE), in Bern, Switzerland. Her fields of interest are: Impact assessment and monitoring of sustainable land management practices, studying the effects on the natural resources soil, water and vegetation, at local and regional level. She is experienced in transdisciplinary research approaches and knowledge management for integrated watershed management, community based land use planning and adaptation to climate change. She has field experience from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Thomas KOHLER, PhD (Geography), is Associate Director and Lecturer at the Centre for Development and Environment, and Institute of Geography, of the University of Bern; Finance and Personnel Management, Programme Director of several Programmes in Research, Outreach, and Policy Advice. The field of his research interests is mountains. Over the last 30 years he has worked in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Eritrea, Lao PDR, Nepal, Russian Federation and Georgia (Caucasus), Iceland and Switzerland.

Heino MEESSEN, PhD (Landscape ecology), is Senior Researcher at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, Switzerland. His work has mainly focused on transition processes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He specializes in applied research on nature conservation and management of large protected areas. His main concern is how to link conservation to benefits for the people living in and around large protected areas and encourage their participation in conservation management. His research includes sustainable tourism, decentralized energy efficiency, sustainable regional development in rural and mountain areas, waste management, environmental impact assessment, etc. Village-level cooperation across national borders is another major focus of Heino Meessen’s work at CDE. This includes aspects of conflict transformation through village alliances in all Central Asian countries, e.g. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. He has also worked to promote transboundary management of large protected areas as “peace parks”, e.g. between Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. In his heart, Heino Meessen has remained a conservationist. He consciously appreciates the “ecosystem services” that nature provides for humankind – be it spirituality, physical and mental health, or tourism and recreation. In his leisure time he enjoys mountain hiking, backcountry skiing, and wind surfing. He is fluent in English, Russian, and of course his native language, German.

David TARKHNISHVILI, PhD (Ecology), D.Sci, is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Director of the Institute of Ecology, and Acting Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Engineering. His research interests are population ecology/genetics, phylogeography/speciation, habitat modeling, evolution of morphology, Caucasus, relict biodiversity. He was the Head of the Georgian national commission for determining status of threatened species (National Red List commission) (2006-2009).  Graduated from Tbilisi State University (Biology, zoology) (1982). PhD in Ecology from Research Inst. of Ecology, Ural Sci. Center at Sverdlovsk (pres. Ekaterinsburg), Russia, 1987. Research – interspecific competition of amphibians. Work experience – Tbilisi State University, Vietnam Tropical Center (1990), Bangor University, UK (1996-1997, post-doctoral fellow), Zoological Research Institute and Museum Al. Koenig, Bonn, Germany (1998; 1999-2003; post-doctoral fellow, researcher).Studies mostly in ecology, biogeography, population genetics and evolution of amphibians and reptiles. Over 100 published research papers. At Ilia State since 2006, employed as a dean of the school of Life Sciences, director of the Institute of Ecology, and dean of the School of Science and Engineering.

George LOMINADZE, Dr. Sci. (Geography), is the Head of the Department of Geomorphology and Geoecology, Vakhushti Bagrationi Instiute of Geography, Tbilisi State University. His research interests are coastal processes, natural hazards, resorts and their interaction with environment. In his scientific biography a number of field studies including complex field surveys of the mountainous and coastal regions of Georgia, study of Natural-Tourist Resources of Kvemo Kartli and Javakheti and Perspectives of its Application and others. He is author of 2 monographs and about 40 articles.