Prof. Dr. Martin Elsner



Academic Career and Research Areas

Professor Elsner (b. 1972) develops analytical methods to investigate the fate of chemicals and microorganisms in complex systems. Besides laser analysis, particle analysis, and bio-analytics, research at the Institute of Hydrochemistry is focused on compound-specific isotope analysis to measure isotope effects at natural abundance. Through innovative analytical methods, the Institute contributes to improvements in the management of chemicals in the environment, helps to establish the self-purification potential of natural systems and helps to optimize turnover in technical systems.
Professor Elsner studied chemistry at the University of Freiburg and at ETH Zürich, where he earned his doctorate in environmental sciences in 2003. After postdoctoral research stays at EAWAG and at the University of Toronto, he became leader of a research unit at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, Institute of Groundwater Ecology (2006-17) and completed his lecturer qualification in Analytical Chemistry and Environmental Chemistry at the University of Tübingen in 2011. In 2017 Professor Elsner was appointed to the Chair of Analytical Chemistry and Water Chemistry and was made director of the Institute of Hydrochemistry at TUM.


  • Member of the Young Academy of Europe (2015)
  • ERC Consolidator Grant (2013)
  • Water Chemistry Prize of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) (2013)
  • Selected for the “Helmholtz Academy” for Executives (2011)
  • Helmholtz Young Researcher Grant (2006)

Kundu K, Marozava S, Ehrl B, Merl-Pham J, Griebler Ch, Elsner M: “Defining lower limits of biodegradation – atrazine degradation regulated by mass transfer and maintenance demand in Arthrobacter aurescens TC1”. The ISME Journal. 2019; 13: 2236–2251.


Ehrl B, Kundu K, Gharasoo M, Marozava S, Elsner M: “Rate-Limiting Mass Transfer in Micropollutant Degradation Revealed by Isotope Fractionation in Chemostat”. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019; 53: 1197–1205.


Heckel B, McNeill K, Elsner M: “Chlorinated Ethene Reactivity with Vitamin B12 Is Governed by Cobalamin Chloroethylcarbanions as Crossroads of Competing Pathways”. ACS Catalysis. 2018; 8: 3054−3066.


Fenner K, Canonica S, Wackett LP, Elsner M: “Evaluating Pesticide Degradation in the Environment: Blind Spots and Emerging Opportunities”. Science. 2013; 341(6147): 752-758.


Elsner M, Zwank L, Hunkeler D, Schwarzenbach RP: “A new concept linking observable stable isotope fractionation to transformation pathways of organic pollutants”. Environmental Science & Technology. 2005; 39(18): 6896-6916.