From Iffeldorf to America
Yet a fascination for the Osterseen is not the only thing that Lilian Busse took with her from her studies. The topic of water and water conservation has been a constant in the biologist’s life since her time at TUM. “What could be better than spending time looking at a Bavarian alpine lake, a beautiful mountain stream or the ocean in California at sunset?” Lilian Busse asks. She is convinced that “water is our most important asset. It’s vital to protect it.”
After her studies, Lilian Busse took up research positions in many areas of water conservation. After her degree at TUM, she earned her doctorate in Berlin and received a postdoctoral fellowship from the University of California at Santa Barbara. From 2002 to 2006, she was a research associate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, one of the oldest, largest and most important marine research centers in the world. After that, she received an interesting offer from the California Environmental Protection Agency. Also here water protection was a central part of her job.
“I had planned to only stay one year in the US, but the tasks were so diverse, the challenges so exciting, and the often unbridled optimism of Americans was incredibly contagious,” says Busse. So one year in the United States turned into 17. In that time, Lilian Busse and her husband both acquired dual citizenship; the couple’s two children have spent most of their lives in the United States.
Nevertheless, Lilian Busse at some point started to feel that she wanted to come home. “We missed European culture and we wanted to be closer to our families again,” the biologist explains. A position opened up in Germany: since 2015, Lilian Busse has managed a department at the Federal Environment Agency in Dessau. Since 2021 she is Vice President of the German Federal Environmental Agency
There she is responsible for water and soil protection as well as clean air and drinking water. She draws on her scientific knowledge to advise policymakers on important decisions. “Actually, I’ve always remained faithful to science, just not at a university,” says Busse. She hopes that we can improve the condition of natural bodies of water in the coming decades and that we also do our utmost to protect the resource of water for mankind. “I would be glad if my children find something on their life path that inspires them as much as water inspires me.”
Degree in Biology 1993
Lilian Busse studied Biology at TUM and received her doctorate in Berlin in the field of technical environmental protection. She then spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
From 2002 to 2006 she worked as a research associate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, after which she worked for the California Environmental Protection Agency. Since 2015, Lilian Busse has headed the Department of Environmental Protection and Ecosystem Protection at the Federal Environment Agency in Dessau. Since 2021, she has held the position as Vice President of the German Federal Environmental Agency. There she is responsible for water and soil protection as well as clean air and clean drinking water. In September 2023, Lilian Busse was appointed Honorary Professor of Environmental Science – Policy Interaction at the TUM School of Life Sciences.
The biologist finds the best way to switch off is to go hiking or skiing in the mountains and she would like to travel once in her life to the Antarctic. She has two adult children and lives with her family in Berlin.