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Björn Conrad

Vice President Research

Björn Conrad is the Vice President of MERICS. He coordinates the institute’s research agenda and its outreach to political and economic decision-makers. His own expertise is in the areas of economic innovation and environmental policy.

He previously served as Climate Change and Environment Officer at the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), managing numerous environmental projects in China and its neighbouring countries. Prior to that, he worked for the Global Environment Facility at the World Bank in Washington, DC. In 2008 he initiated the Berlin-based Global Public Policy Institute’s China Programme. In 2014, Conrad was appointed member of the expert committee tasked with drafting a China Strategy for the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

After completing his studies in Sinology, Political Science and Economics in Germany and China, Conrad received a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, specialising in environmental policy and economics.




Kristin Shi-Kupfer

Director of the Research Area on Public Policy and Society   

Kristin Shi-Kupfer heads MERICS’ research on politics, society and the media. She is an expert on media policy, civil society, religious policy and ideology in China. 

She previously worked as a research associate at the University of Freiburg’s Institute for Sinology. She earned her PhD from Ruhr University Bochum with a thesis on spiritual and religious groups in China after 1978. From 2007 to 2011 she was the China correspondent for the Austrian news magazine Profil, the German Protestant Press Agency epd, and Südwest Presse in Beijing. She also worked as a freelance contributor for other media like ZEIT Online, tageszeitung (taz), and Deutsche Welle in China. 




Claudia Wessling

Director of Communications

Claudia Wessling is the acting head of the MERICS communications department. Wessling previously worked at the foreign policy desk of news agency Agence France-Presse in Berlin. From 2010 to 2015 she reported on German politics as an AFP correspondent. Also a freelance science reporter, she specialises in mathematics, information technology, and digitisation, and has written for publications such as Heise Technology Review, Tagesspiegel, and Handelsblatt. Wessling gained experience as a press officer at the representative office of Taiwan in Germany. She studied Chinese, Indonesian, and economics in Bonn, Wuhu and Yogyakarta, before training as a science journalist in Berlin.


  • Stiftung Mercator