Sophia Findeisen

Research themes

  • Habitat restoration and conservation
  • Biogeochemistry and ecology of grasslands, heathlands, and peatlands
  • (Microbial) community ecology and vegetation science
  • Enhanced silicate weathering, greenhouse gases  


As a PhD student, I am affiliated to the Antwerp ZOO Centre for Research and Conservation (CRC) and the Plant and Ecosystems (PLECO) research group at Antwerp University. In the nature reserve “De Zegge” I am investigating the potential of using silicate rock powder to restore acidified ecosystems and mitigate climate change. 

Research Interests

My research broadly concerns the conservation and restoration of species-rich grasslands and heathlands and their above- and belowground biodiversity. As part of my PhD, I am looking into a potential solution for the recovery of acidified ecosystems which was initially developed as climate change mitigation technique: Enhanced Silicate Weathering (ESW). This technique consists of finely ground silicate rocks being applied to the soil. As the rocks weather, CO2 reacts with the mineral surfaces and is captured from the atmosphere, while HCO3- and base cations (e.g. K+) are released into the soil where they counter acidification. Although this procedure may remedy two urgent but also disparate problems, rising CO2 levels and biodiversity loss, effects of ESW have barely been explored in an ecosystem restoration context and we will be among the first to be able to do so. 

Korte biografie

I have always been fascinated by the diversity of life on our planet and how different levels of an ecosystem interact with each other to determine ecosystem functioning. Therefore, I started my scientific career at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (Idiv) in Leipzig, Germany, where I investigated the effects of a belowground invader on soil mesofauna community composition and ecosystem functioning in a Canadian forest ecosystem and completed my BSc in Biology in 2020. I then came to Antwerp to obtain a Master’s degree in Biodiversity, Conservation and Restoration in early 2023. During my MSc, I studied plant communities in peatlands and the biogeochemical constraints for the re-introduction of four specific species. Meanwhile, I also worked for Natuurpunt vzw in practical nature management and the restoration of species-rich grasslands and peatlands. In 2023, I began my doctoral studies under the supervision of Willem-Jan Emsens, excited to explore new frontiers in ecosystem restoration.