Silvia’s current research fields are spatial development and the impact of land use on ecosystem services. She has been leading complex WSL-research programs about the progress of urban sprawl and its consequences for biodiversity and human well-being. In her work, she emphasises knowledge transfer between science and practice. She features inter- and transdisciplinary research in case studies with local stakeholders. Moreover, she is an expert in soil protection with a focus on soil restoration and soil compaction by agricultural management. Her teaching activities encompass lectures at ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and the University of Applied Sciences of Zurich. She studied environmental and geodetic engineering and accomplished her PhD in soil-bioengineering at ETH Zurich.

Professional and Research Interests

  • Spatial planning: landscape development, urbanisation
  • Ecosystem services (ESS): land use impact on ESS, ESS in urban regions, restoration of ESS
  • Soil protection: soil compaction, soil restoration, soil use and management
  • Soil bio-engineering: slope stability and erosion control
  • Science–policy interface: transdisciplinary research, research synthesis, advisory services

Curriculum Vitae


Diploma Environmental engineering, ETH Zürich, 1987 (Dipl. Kulturingenieurin ETH)

Ph.D. Soil bio-engineering, ETH Zürich, 1991 (Dr. sc. techn.)

Professional Experience

Since 2001 Research programme leader at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf

1995 – 2001 Senior researcher at the Institute of Land Improvement and Water Management, ETH Zürich

1991 – 94 Scientific employee at the Soil Protection Service of Canton Zürich

1987 – 91 Ph.D student and teaching assistant at the Institute of Land Improvement and Water Management, ETH Zürich

1985 – 87 Tutor at the Institute of Hydromechanics and Water Supply, ETH Zürich

Teaching Activities

Since 2014 Teaching position for lecture in ‘Soil, environment, vegetation’ at University of Zurich (MSc level)

2012/2013 Guest lecturer in ‘Scorecards for knowledge visualisation’ at ZHAW Wädenswil (MSc level)

2000–2008 Teaching positions for lectures in ‘Land use, land improvement’ at ETH Zürich (BSc and graduate level)

2001–2005 Teaching position for in-depth studies (semester thesis) in ‘Land resources management’ at ETH Zürich (graduate level)

1998–2005 Teaching positions for lectures in ‘Soil bio-engineering’ at ZHAW Wädenswil (advanced training course)

Scientific and Public Services

Co-chair of the WSL Landscape Research Centre, since 2012

Member of the Advisory Board for Spatial Development of the Swiss Federal Council (Eidg. Rat für Raumordnung), since 2004

Member of the Jury of Landscape Development Projects of Canton Zürich (LEK-Jury Kanton Zürich), since 2003

President of the Soil Science Society of Switzerland, 2006–2008; Board member of the Soil Science Society of Switzerland, since 2004; President of the working group Soil Protection of the Soil Science Society of Switzerland, from 2001–2004; and since 2009

Member of the executive board of the European Society for Soil Conservation (ESSC), 2004–2007

Board member of the Swiss Society of Soil Bio-Engineering, 1989–1996