Sebastian Transiskus M.Sc.

Research assistant
Human Geography and Transition Research
Phone: +49 821 598 2282
Open hours: Wednesday 10:30 - 11:30 am

Research Focus

  • human migration and immobility in the face of environmental change

  • disaster risks research

  • transformation of the Global South 

  • natural resource management

  • renewable energies 

  • climate change & climate policy


Sebastian Transiskus is a human geographer who studies the impacts of climate and environmental change, environmental migration, environmental immobility, and rural adaptation. 


More project information (Lake Urmia, Iran) below.

Main Research Project

​​​​​​PhD Project (DFG-funded): Environmental Change, Migration and Immobility at Lake Urmia (Iran)


Human induced climate change and natural resource exploitation threaten societies and ecosystems worldwide. The Middle East is one of the world’s regions most affected by climate change and a dramatic shortage of one of the most essential resources – water. Lake Urmia, located in northwestern Iran and forming the world’s second largest hypersaline lake, has been drying up since the mid-1990s because of climate change and excessive water consumption in its catchment area. The socio-economic consequences of this disaster for rural livelihoods have hardly been investigated so far.


Methodologically based on in-depths interviews with rural households around Lake Urmia, this project provides important insights into the complex relationship between environmental change, local perceptions, and decisions of affected individuals and households to migrate or stay. My research shows that the degradation of land and freshwater resources, salt storms and economic decline lead to different (im)mobility outcomes.


As options for 'in-situ' adaptation are limited, internal migration is a common adaptation strategy. However, severe environmental degradation has caused the loss of personal resources, triggering poverty traps, and leaving many without the capabilities to move. My findings further illustrate how deeply contextual aspects like place attachment, attitudes to risk, and emotional wellbeing influence (im)mobility decision-making. Even in the face of disaster risk, staying put can be an active choice, illustrating why human mobility in the context of environmental change is neither simple nor linear.


© Transiskus 2019



Upcoming lectures:


  • "Losing Home to the Unknown: Environmental Degradation, Internal Migration, and Immobility at Lake Urmia (Iran)"

Biannual meeting of the Working Group on Geographical Development Theories, June 17, 2022, Vienna


  • „Environmental disaster at Lake Urmia (Iran) – When home is lost forever“

Long Night of Science, July 16, 2022, Augsburg City Hall.


  • "The Impact of Climate Change on Human Migration – Case Study Lake Urmia (Iran) and Global Perspectives".

Environmental education series, VHS Augsburger Land, September 29, 2022, Bobingen




Lectures given:


  • „Environmental Change, Migration and Immobility at Lake Urmia (Iran)“

Expert session on climate change, pandemics and the transformation of migration systems, 07.10.2021, 

GeoWoche2021, Digitaler Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geographie.


  • „Should I stay, or should I go? Environmental change, (im)mobility and place attachment at Lake Urmia (Iran)“ 

Workshop Environmental Humanities, 08.07.2021, WZU Augsburg.


  • „Water crisis at Lake Urmia (Iran): is migration the last resort?“

 Digital theme day "University Worldwide", 08.05.2021, Augsburg.


  • „Environmental Change and Migration at Lake Urmia (NW Iran)“

Conference „Environmental Humanities“,  25-26.02.2019. Umweltstation Schneefernerhaus, Zugspitze. 


  • „Environmental Degradation and Migration at Lake Urmia“

Workshop Environmental Humanities, 19.12.2019, WZU Augsburg.


  • „Effects of slow-onset environmental degradation at Lake Urmia (Iran)“

Green Roundtable „Climate Justice and Migration“, 28.11.2019, Bundestag Berlin.


  • „Environmental Change and Migration at Lake Urmia (Iran)“

Workshop Climate Justice and Migration, 27.11.2019, Heinrich Böll Foundation Berlin.


Work Experience:


  • Since 10/2017: Research Associate at the Chair of Human Geography and Resource Strategies (Augsburg University)
  • 09/2016 - 03/2017: Master degree candidate at Munich Re in the department GeoRisksReseach & Corporate Climate Centre (GEO/CCC)

  • 02/2016 - 06/2016: Internship at Munich Re in the department GeoRisksResearch & Corporate Climate Centre
  • 08/2015 - 09/2015 & 02/2015 - 04/2015: Internships at SMG Standortmarketing Gesellschaft / Regional Management of district Miesbach
  • 03/2014 - 05/2014: Internship at environmental education institution „Umweltstation Augsburg“



  • 10/2014 - 05/2017: Master of Science Geography (Augsburg University)

    Master Thesis: "Fire and storm risks for forests in the continental United States. Risk analysis and risk management solutions, taking into account vulnerability factors and climate change impacts“
  • 10/2011 - 09/2014: Bachelor of Science Geographie (Augsburg University)

    Bachelor Thesis: "Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in Europe as a resource strategy for achieving energy supply security by reducing the dependence on Russian energy imports?"


No courses available.


  • NANU! e.V. – Netzwerk Augsburg für Naturschutz und Umweltbildung
  • Klima – Climate action for all (offset your carbon footprint:



  • Schmidt, M., Gonda, R. & Transiskus, S. (2020): Environmental degradation at Lake Urmia (Iran): exploring the causes and their impacts on rural livelihoods. GeoJournal (2020). 

  • Transiskus, S. (2020): Wasserkrise und Mobilität am Urmiasee. Ein Beispiel für Trockenheit und Umweltmigration im Globalen Süden. In: Geographische Rundschau - Ausgabe 11/2020 (November).

  • Transiskus, S. (2021): Umweltmigration und Immobilität am Urmiasee (Iran). In: Schriften des Jakob-Fugger-Zentrums Augsburg.

Supervised Final Theses

Resource Strategies & Renewable Energies

  • Nord Stream 2: Political leverage or strategic component of German-European gas supply? (J. Schwarz)

  • The role of Bio-Energy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in meeting the 2°C target: a critical perspective on the technical, economic and environmental potential (J. Zanzinger)

  • The influence of  landscape aesthetics in the planning process of wind power plants on project acceptance – A Citizen Survey (F. Marzog)

  • Carbon Capture and Storage – An analysis of potentials and risks as well as a consideration of social acceptance in Germany (L. Barghoorn)

  • Energy Transformation in Morocco – Development, Challenges and Potentials (F. Schneider)


Sustainable urban and regional development

  • Effects of the „Future Prize“ of the City of Augsburg on applicants and prize winners as well as on the „Local Agenda 21“ (J. Singer)
  • The role of urban agriculture for urban development in countries with different levels of development: A comparison between Cuba and Germany (A. Hartmann)
  • Environmental Justice in Augsburg: How equitable is access to green spaces in Augsburg? (J. Pfaffenzeller)


Topics currently available for theses (inquiries by e-mail, please):


  • Discussions about a „climate passport“: crazy idea or necessary contribution to global justice?
  • Augsburg's public transport flat rate: Success model for sustainable urban development?
  • Sustainability and Consumption: A Case Study on Foodsharing in Augsburg
  • Food or waste? Action orientation of actors in the retail sector in dealing with food waste in Augsburg
  • The conflict over lignite mining at Hambacher Forst. A political-ecological perspective.
  • Effects of major sporting events on the Global South using the example of „XY“.
  • How important is sustainability in consumption among Augsburg students?
  • Celebrating as if there were a tomorrow – sustainability at festivals

Dear teacher trainees

Unfortunately, research assistants are not allowed to supervise admission essays.

Please contact Karin Thieme, Markus Hilpert and Matthias Schmidt with your inquiries.