About Ellis Penning

Dr. Ellis Penning is an expert in the field of Nature based Solutions and ecohydraulic research with over 20 years of experience. She leads the Deltares strategic research program on Nature Based Solutions and carries out a variety of projects related to this subject, both in the national and international context. An aquatic ecologist by training, Ellis Penning is specifically focusing on the role of vegetation in aquatic systems, both from a flood risk and environmental quality point of view and how knowledge related to the natural dynamics of this vegetation helps in the assessment and design of Nature based Solutions (NbS) within a catchment scale perspective.

Part of her work focusses on providing new evidence on the functioning of NbS via measured data using remote sensing, field monitoring and flume experiments. Specifically, a sound understanding of the interaction between vegetation and its surrounding environment helps to create a better understanding of the overall system functioning and provides the basis for better management of these systems. Next to this the linkage between technical functioning and the socio-economic and governance aspects of the design, implementation and management of NbS is part of her research.

Ellis Penning is the Deltares project lead for various NbS projects that specifically provide this linkage. She currently leads the Dutch research project on sponge functioning of landscapes – evaluating NBS on their merits for floods AND droughts AND biodiversity and has been involved in various Ecoshape projects, such as the Ecoshape Pilot on Vegetated Sandy Foreshores along the Houtribdijk in the large shallow Lake Markermeer and the project ‘Working with Uncertainties of Nature-based Solutions. She has also worked on projects assessing of the role of woody floodplain vegetation in reducing wave impact on the dikes along parts of the Rhine river, and developed new techniques for spatial mapping of vegetation in streams and rivers using new remote monitoring techniques to provide water managers with more accurate insight in the amount and location of vegetation in their area to improve the management of this vegetation for both flood risk management and ecological values.

Ellis Penning is the coordinator of the EU project SpongeScapes and active in various other EU projects related to the implementation of the EU Green Deal and the Water Framework Directive (a.o. Danube4all, REXUS and MERLIN) and has extensive experience in international cooperation in Europe, North America and Asia. At present she chairs the International Steering Committee of the River Experiment Centre of the Korean Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology and leads the Deltares contribution to the joint project on vegetated flows in this unique large outdoor flume facility. She also leads the IAHR Working Group on Nature-based Solutions.

Working experience

  1. Deltares

    Expert Nature-based Solutions en aquatische ecologie, programmatrekker stratgegisch onderzoek Deltares naar Nature-based Solutions

    2013 - present
  2. Deltares

    Part-time PhD position

    2007 - 2012
  3. Deltares

    Researcher/Advisor Aquatic Ecology

    2001 - 2013

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