by Staff Writers
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Jun 24, 2011
Barbara Lenz is the only woman to head one of the 34 research institutes and facilities of the German Aerospace Center. She is also the only female professor of Transport Geography in Germany, holding a special DLR professorship at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Since 1 January 2007, Barbara Lenz has been in charge of the DLR Institute of Transport Research in Adlershof, located to the south of Berlin.
From Stuttgart to Berlin
"In particular, we worked extensively on the subject of production site development in the age of globalisation as well as at the role to be played by transport and logistics. It is exciting to see the way that different markets are interconnected and the functions played by innovations in the transport and logistics sector - they not only facilitate international production but are, to an increasing extent, the catalyst."
It therefore seemed appropriate for Barbara Lenz to start her time with DLR in Berlin by examining the relationship between the topology and the resultant transport requirements and traffic trends.
From newspaper publisher to university
After obtaining her high school leaving certificate - the German Abitur - she completed a two-year voluntary placement at a newspaper-publishing house in the Stuttgart region. On completion of her studies, Barbara Lenz spent the requisite probation period in the educational sector, working as a teacher in a private school before having the opportunity to return to university to complete her doctorate and qualify as a professor.
Making intelligent use of car, bus and rail
Of course, she would not like to live without a car entirely: "every mode of transport has its place, but we need to be prepared to consider alternatives and think about the mode of transport most appropriate for each type of journey. Sometimes, walking is the most flexible way of getting around," she says with a laugh.
For Barbara Lenz, even this conscious decision makes a contribution towards achieving the goal of sustainable mobility. And that is a significant objective: "understanding transport is not enough. Instead, it is more important to research ways - be it through the use of technology or through changing behaviour - of reducing the negative environmental impact of transport."
This scientist and scientific manager is convinced that sustainability is about more than just protecting the environment. When she leaves work in the evening, she enjoys a 15 to 20 minute bicycle ride home, instead of driving. "Since I am in no hurry, I can relax a bit, just as I do on Sundays when my husband and I stroll in and around Berlin," she comments.
Mobility behaviour and transport demand
The scientist particularly values the way that the DLR institutes collaborate with one another. "We are all investigating similar research subjects, but we are tackling them from different perspectives."
Barbara Lenz has now been a transport researcher at DLR for almost ten years. Will she be putting in another ten? She nods in agreement: "yes, I can certainly imagine that happening. There is still a great deal to do. For example, we are currently working on 'DLR Transport Scenarios 2030'.
We want to examine all modes of transport in detail - from walking and cycling through to motorised transport by car, truck, bus and rail - with their implications for the environment, economy and society, and to clearly show where the 'control levers' are located within this system. I can only plan this; if my colleagues don't bring their commitment and intelligence to bear on these issues, none of it will come through. But that is precisely what they do!"
A 'boss' with team spirit
Once a year, she discovers an entirely new kind of mobility: "I take three weeks of vacation at one time, without a mobile phone, laptop or appointments calendar - and when I return, even though the world has not stopped, nothing has really changed," she adds.
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