we4DRR members in focus: Maria Papathoma-Köhle

screenshot of zoom webinar
Foto: we4DRR

On June 15th, 2023, the first spring webinar we4DRR members in focus was held online. Maria Papathoma-Köhle from the BOKU gave insights about her career, research topics, and personal views on work and life.

Maria currently is a senior postdoctoral fellow (“Elise Richter” fellowship 2016-2021) at the Institute of Mountain Risk Engineering at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. Her research focuses on the physical vulnerability of buildings to natural hazards (floods and wildfire), their resilience, institutional vulnerability issues, and spatial patterns of vulnerability. Further research interests include recovery and reconstruction following natural hazard events (Build Back Better) and vulnerability of remote areas to natural hazards.


  • As a child I wanted to become: a shepherd, living a stress-free life and later on an architect for the sake of being creative.
  • My perfect work day starts with: coffee with my colleagues
  • The three most important things on my office desk are: smartphone,, fruit and my analog agenda planner
  • I restore my energy by: walking – to slow me down
  • My secret of success is: finding the right balance between being humble and ambitious

On networking, decisions, and well-being

Maria often seeks advice from friends outside her work bubble because she appreciates different points of view on problems from people with different (professional) backgrounds. At work, she keeps her distance from people that have a negative influence on her life and builds networks that operate under honest relationships. Family support is also very important to her, as they have to allow her time and show understanding during stressful periods

Maria believes there are certain turning points in your life where you have to make decisions and the outcome may not always be the easiest path. For her, such a point was moving to Austria without speaking German or having a network and to start from scratch and reinvent herself at the age of 31. But leaving your comfort zone can be very rewarding!

To survive her everyday routine, Maria takes care of herself by eating healthy food, keeping physically active, and sleeping well (not always possible). Maria cycles everywhere and walks a lot. She also tries to surround herself with positive people and work colleagues and tackles life with a good sense of humour. Maria also advises rewarding yourself after a tough day with something pleasant, such as going to the movies or having a nice evening with friends.

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