The team is currently being put together - at present Philipp leads a team of several PhD students and two research assistants in Wuppertal, as well as several jointly supervised PhD students and postdocs in Oxford, at ETH Zurich and RWTH Aachen University.

PhD Students

Eileen P. Lara

Eileen Lara is an ambitious and highly self-motivated electrical engineer with great zeal for excellence in service delivery. In her years of work, she has gathered a wealth of experience in solar PV design and installation, energy auditing, energy policy and project management. She has been principal investigator on several research projects with partners across the globe and is also one of the few female Certified Energy Auditors (CEA) in Uganda.

On top of these skills Eileen is also a certified business trainer with the Work for Life program with which skill she uses to equip and mentor women, especially in business. She has since mentored several women in both business and energy skills in Uganda.  In 2019, Eileen was nominated to be the pioneer chair for the Women in Renewable Energy Association Uganda (WREAU) with which she won the best women renewable energy group award of the year and Micro Grid Academy (MGA) Young talent of the year award 2020.

For her PhD research, Eileen is looking at sustainable business model innovations in Sub Saharan Africa for increased rural electrification. The main research question in this research is what is Sub Saharan Africa missing to reach 100% electrification? I shall be taking a deep dive in the strengths and weaknesses of different models using a case study approach to ascertain their level of sustainability and gender integration. This research will also assess the impact of private sector led business models on economic development.

Contact: lara[at]


Melin Niedermayer

Melin, a current PhD candidate, holds a bachelor's degree in Business Management and Economics from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany, and a master's degree in International Management from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands. During academic journey, she further broadened her global perspective through extensive international experiences in the USA, Peru, France, and the Czech Republic. These varied experiences have enriched her understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and economic systems, and have greatly shaped her academic and professional trajectory.

Transitioning from academia to industry, Melin honed her practical expertise as a consultant at McKinsey & Company. In this role, she consulted with domestic and international clients in the public sector and financial services. Furthermore, she was involved in firm initiatives aimed at fostering local startup ecosystems as well as generating insights from engagements with high-growth startups.

Currently, Melin’s PhD research focuses on the exploration of entreprenurial ecosystems within low and lower-middle-income countries. Her research seeks to explore how these ecosystems operate, what challenges they face, and how they can be optimized to promote economic growth, social and sustainable development, underscoring her commitment to fostering global entrepreneurial progress and economic equity.

Contact: niedermayer[at]

Rosebella Nyumba

Rosebella is a zealous researcher and development practitioner who advocates for the use of research-generated evidence to influence policy, foster inclusion and inform development. Her interests revolve around frugal innovation of products, services, technologies, and processes, business model innovation and sustainability, energy access and sustainability, social interactions in society, and the creation of conducive urban spaces specifically in informal settlements. 

She has garnered extensive experience in research, having worked as a Research Consultant for the following organizations/institutions; The Institute for Development studies at the University of Nairobi, Twaweza Communications, Radboud University, True North, and the International Centre for Frugal Innovation hosted by Nuvoni Center for Innovation Research on a number of multidisciplinary research and evaluation projects. The most recent projects she has been engaged in include Innovation Histories for Frugal products and services, Community, Urban Resilience and Sustainability, inclusivity, and governance of mini-grids in sub-Saharan Africa.  

She holds a master’s degree in development studies from the Institute for Development Studies, at the University of Nairobi. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral studies at Bergische Universität Wuppertal, focusing on Business Model Sustainability in Sub-Saharan Africa, where she seeks to interrogate the type of business models used by entrepreneurs in the energy, food, water, and health domains, I identify and examine innovation ecosystems favourable for the development of sustainable business models for entrepreneurs and examine business model innovation as a survival/resilience mechanism for frugal innovators.  


  • Fransen, J., Hati, B., Van Stapele, N., Kiriro, S., Nyumba, R., 2022 The resilience of informal settlements in Nairobi: multiple pathways and coping strategies. Forthcoming.
  • Fransen, J., Hati, B., Van Tuijl, E., Nyumba, R., Onsongo, E., 2022 Community vitality and frugal practices in informal settlements: Insights from Nairobi Forthcoming.



Sven Werner

Student Assistants

Felix Neubauer

Felix has been working at Chair of Sustainability Management since July 2022. Since October 2021, he has been studying Sustainability Management in the Master's program in Wuppertal and is expected to graduate at the beginning of 2024. 

Prior to that, he completed a dual bachelor's degree in business administration with a major in commerce. His partner company was a DIY store and his university was in Heidenheim (Baden-Württemberg). Particularly in view of the Corona pandemic and the associated lockdown, Felix was able to gain particularly resilience-promoting experience in stationary retail at this time.

Felix's tasks at the chair are wide-ranging. He supports Philipp as well as the rest of the team with research tasks, creates presentations and teaching materials and also takes care of the website.


Anne-Marie Thomas

Anne-Marie joined the team of the Chair of Sustainability Management in July 2023 as a student assistant. Curently she is pursuing a Master's degree in Sustainability Management at the University of Wuppertal and working as a project controller at Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a major in controlling and taxation from FH Aachen University and gained some international experience in the USA and Belgium during and prior to her studies.

Anne-Marie mainly supports the research team in current projects.

Contact: anne-marie.thomas[at]

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