I have worked as an academic and a practitioner on conflict, security and transnational organised crime, especially drug trafficking, as well as peace building, terrorism and governance. I am particularly interested in the role that violent non-state groups play in these dynamics. I have been awarded the 2015 Cedric Smith Prize for the Best Work in Peace and Conflict Research.
I am Director of Studies at the Changing Character of War Programme, Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, and at the Department of Politics and International Relations, and affiliate at the Latin American Centre, all University of Oxford. I am also Research Associate at the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding, Graduate Institute Geneva. I recently completed a collaborative research project on peace communities in Colombia’s borderlands with FLACSO Quito. I also teach tutorials at the University of Oxford, supervise students and and work as a consultant on topics related to violent non-state actors, organised crime, conflict and peacebuilding, as well as the Colombian peace process/post-conflict. I am member of the International Advisory Committee of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) in the field of Security and Rule of Law, serve as an expert for Oxford Analytica, and as Coordinator of the International Network for Conflict and Peace Research on Colombia.
I hold a doctorate from the Department of International Development and at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. In my doctoral research I analysed arrangements of convenience among violent non-state actors in the borderlands of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela and their impact on citizen security. As a Drugs, Security and Democracy Fellow, sponsored by the Social Science Research Council and Open Society Foundations, I conducted over one year of extensive fieldwork in Colombia’s crisis-affected borderlands during which I interviewed, among others, ex-combatants, displaced people, military and police officials, drug traffickers, civil society leaders as well as staff of NGOs and of international organisations. I was visiting researcher at universities in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
A German citizen, I grew up in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Southern Germany. I obtained a BA double degree in German-Spanish Studies/International Politics from the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain, and the University of Regensburg, Germany and a MA in International Relations with Distinction from King’s College London’s Department of War Studies. I am co-founder of a peace, security and development consulting service and previously worked for UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the German Development Organisation InWEnt (now GIZ) as well as the German Embassy in San José, Costa Rica. I have published journal articles, book chapters and policy briefs and have also written blog posts in English, Spanish and German on violent non-state actors, citizen security, transnational organised crime and borderlands.