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apl. Prof. Dr. Barbara Sponholz

Barbara Sponholz’s work focuses on the areas of gender equality and teacher training as well as on university-community partnerships.


Born in Karlsruhe in 1960, Barbara Sponholz studied geography, geology, and botany at the University of Würzburg. She completed her doctorate on geomorphology in 1988 and earned a Habilitation in 1997.

Her career at the University of Würzburg was interrupted by research visits to West Africa as well as periods spent as a research fellow at the Centre de Géomorphologie in Caen, France (1990-1991) and an interim professor for physical geography at the University of Passau (2002/2003).

Research interests

Barbara Sponholz has been involved in Africa research since 1986. Her original research interest was in the area of silicate karst in the Central Sahara. In 1990, she initiated the study of fulgurites in paleoclimatology.

A member of an interdisciplinary research unit working at the interface of medicine and the geosciences, Barbara Sponholz has been investigating the causes of rickets disease in Central Nigeria and other regions of Africa since 2008.

From 2009 to 2012, she headed the Forum Africa Centre at the University of Würzburg. Another research interest of hers is in the area of historical landscape studies.