Martin Behnisch appointed to new professorship for Spatial Information and Modelling

With a sixth joint professorship appointment, the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER) and the TUD Dresden University of Technology are strengthening their collaboration. Martin Behnisch, senior researcher at the IOER, has been appointed to the newly created Chair for Spatial Information and Modelling at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences. He is also the new head of the Research Area of the same name at the IOER

On 1 September, Dr Martin Behnisch took over as head of the Spatial Information and Modelling Research Area at the IOER. At the same time, he is now also a professor at the TUD Dresden University of Technology. In a formal ceremony at the end of August, the Rector of the TUD, Professor Ursula M. Staudinger, presented him with the certificate of appointment.

Behnisch has been working as a senior scientist at the IOER since 2011. After studying timber construction and wood processing technologies at the Berufsakademie Sachsen and architecture at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), he completed his doctorate at the KIT in 2007 on the topic of urban data mining and the question of how data mining and knowledge discovery methods can be used in conjunction with geoinformation systems to research the built environment. He also completed a postgraduate degree in Geographical Information Science and Systems at the Paris-Lodron University in Salzburg with distinction. This was followed by positions as a research assistant and lecturer at KIT and Tianjin University in China. Before joining the IOER, Martin Behnisch worked as a research assistant and a senior research associate at the Institute for Historic Building Research and Conservation at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

The focus of his research at the IOER is in the area of Spatial Data Science and GeoAI. Martin Behnisch focuses on creating insightful data and decision support services. Among other things, he was significantly involved in studies on global urban sprawl and led a project to determine the solar energy potential of building facades in Germany.  

“Geodata and spatial modelling of alternative futures will become significantly more important for science and society in the foreseeable future. We are on the way to a digital age. In view of the extent of the current global socio-ecological crisis, this can be quite advantageous. If we succeed in applying spatial information and modelling in a way that will help us achieve transformative change and make regions, cities and neighbourhoods sustainable and resilient,” explains Behnisch.

According to Martin Behnisch, a key challenge is to ensure access to information for different stakeholders and also to ensure its seamless integration into decision-making processes. “Against this background, I am particularly pleased that we at the IOER have started to build up a data infrastructure with the IOER RDC, the IOER Research Data Centre, which will meet precisely these challenges,” says Behnisch.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to recruit Martin Behnisch, a very distinguished and creative expert, to lead this highly dynamic Research Area,” emphasizes Professor Marc Wolfram, Director of the IOER. “At the same time, this additional joint professorship appointment strengthens our close cooperation with the University of Excellence TU Dresden and expands the Research Area’s opportunities for promoting young researchers.”
At the IOER, Martin Behnisch succeeds Dr Gotthard Meinel, who is retiring at the end of October having led the Research Area for more than 15 years. During this period, an important research data infrastructure (RDI) of IOER was created with the Monitor of Settlement and Open Space Development (IOER Monitor). It contains and visualises diverse information on land use and landscape development in Germany. In 2021, the IOER Monitor became the first spatial science RDI to be accredited by the German Data Forum (RatSWD). It now forms an important component of the IOER RDC, which is currently being established at the institute.

At the end of August, the new professors of the TUD Dresden University of Technology were officially appointed by Rector Professor Ursula M. Staudinger, among them Martin Behnisch from the IOER. (Photos: André Wirsig for TUD)


The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.