Manuel Baer

PhD Candidate in GIScience

I am a PhD candidate in the Geocomputation Group at the University of Zurich exploring novel methods of gamification in landscape perception and preference research. Besides being psyched about space im also mad about mapping, devious with drones and wild about windsurfing!

Window Expeditions: Mystical landscapes and where to find them

The world is a multidimensional collage of people, perceptions and places, stitched into the fabric of time. Individual threads intertwining and splicing into senses, perceptions, associations and preferences. How we as individuals experience the world, specifically the (in)finite variety of

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Social vs. Digital – A Matter of Mindset

Since early this year, the world has collectively experienced an extraordinary transition. Nothing new to humankind, but new for many. We had to adjust to new rules and regulations about how we interact with others. We had to worry about

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Baer, M. F. & Purves, R. S. Window Expeditions: A playful approach to crowdsourcing natural language descriptions of everyday lived landscapes. Applied Geography. Volume 148, November 2022.

Hartmann, M. C. & Koblet, O. & Baer, M. F. & Purves, R. S. Automated motif identification: Analysing Flickr images to identify popular viewpoints in Europe’s protected areas. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and TourismVolume 37, March 2022.


Thibault, M. & Baer, M. F. Urban Gamification during Lockdown and Social Isolation – From the Teddy Bear Challenge to Window Expeditions. GamiFIN21. 2021.

Wartmann, F. M. & Bär, M. F. & Hegetschweiler, K. T. & Fischer,  C. & Hunziker, M. & Purves, R. SAssessing the potential of social media for estimating recreational use of urban and peri-urban forests. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 2021.


Baer, M. F. & Wartmann, F. M. & Purves, R. S. StarBorn: Towards making in‐situ land cover data generation fun with a location‐based game. Transaction in GIS. 2019; 00: 1– 21.

  • Presentation
  • Workshop
  • Research Visit
  • Publication
  • Collaboration
  • Application


Zurich, Switzerland

Assessing the potential of social media for estimating recreational use of forests

Accepted and published paper as second author exploring social media and recreational use of forests.

Levi, Finland

GamiFIN Paper Presentation

Presentation of our accepted paper regarding gamification during lockdown and social isolation at GamiFIN.

Zurich, Switzerland

Urban Gamification during Lockdown and Social Isolation

Accepted and published conference paper as second author exploring how playful practices were adopted during COVID.

Levi, Finland

Collaboration for publication

Collaboration on a paper with a member of the Gamification Group.


Zürich, Switzerland


Attendance of the course on Storyboarding as a research tool.

Zürich, Switzerland

Advanced Citizen Science

Attendance of the course on advanced methods and approaches in citizen science.

Zürich, Switzerland

Publish or Perish

Attendance of the scientific writing course “Publish or Perish”.

Zürich, Switzerland


Presentation at the HSGYM Hochschultag: “Coming Home”.

Zürich, Switzerland

Landscape Ecology

Attendance of the ETHz course on landscape ecology.

Zürich, Switzerland

Window Expeditions

Development of Window Expeditions to crowdsource landscape descriptions while reducing the feeling of isolation during lockdown.

Zürich, Switzerland


Minimal help on Maximilian Hartmann’s ShopSensor project.

Levi, Finland

GamiFIN Poster Presentation

Presentation of my accepted poster regarding a location based game for landscape perception and preference research at GamiFIN.

Levi, Finland

GamiFIN Doctoral Consortium

Presentation and discussion of my research with PhDs and a panel of experts at the (online) GamiFIN conference.

Zurich, Switzerland

Citizen Science Winter School

An interesting and intense week of learning about public participation in research and discussing the future of “Citizen Science” in Academia.


Zurich, Switzerland

URPP Language and Space Scientific Advisory Board

Presentation of my research in the Spatial References Focus Group in the University Research Priority Programm Language and Space

Zurich, Switzerland


After months of planning we informed visitors of the Scientifica19 about our research.

Zurich, Switzerland

StarBorn: Towards making in‐situ land cover data generation fun with a location‐based game.

Accepted and published paper exploring the advantages and limitations of using a location based game as a means of collecting land cover data

Zurich, Switzerland

URPP Language and Space Funding Evaluation

Presentation of the planned future of the Spatial References Focus Group in the University Research Priority Programm Language and Space

Zurich, Switzerland

PhD Concept Talk

Presentation of my PhD concept to the department and guests


Zurich, Switzerland

Mapathon – Polygons Against Poverty

Scientific input presentation

Melbourne, Australia


Presentation of my accepted extended abstract at the GIScience 2018 conference in Melbourne

Berlin, Germany

Coding Geographic

Participation in the workshop Coding’Geographic

Edinburgh, Scotland​

Collaboration for publication

Research visit to the Institute of Geography at the University of Edinburgh to work on a publication

Zurich, Switzerland

Who is behind your data? A conversation across geographic disciplines

Presentation of my work in crowdsourcing

Zurich, Switzerland

Citizen Science in Linguistics

Presentation of my experiences in Citizen Science relevant for linguists.


2018 - Present

PhD Candidate

I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Geocomputation Group at the University of Zurich. My main focus is gamification of crowdsourcing in landscape perception and preference research. 

2017 - 2018

Research Assistant

I worked as a research assistant in the Geocomputation Unit of the University of Zurich. Tasks involved administrative work, aid in research and writing papers.

2015 - 2017

Freelance GIS Specialist

I completed various contract work projects as a self employed freelancer specialising in web-design and geographic information systems

2013 - 2015

GeoplanTeam AG

At GeoplanTeam AG I was employed as a part time geographic information system specialist and worked on a variety of projects.  I used a multitude of tools including AutoCAD 3D, Spatial Databases, Leaflet, d3.js



MSc in GIScience University of Zurich

with distinction


BSc Geography University of Bern

magna cum laude


Swiss German
Novice Native
Standard German
Novice Native
Novice Native
Novice Native