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ACONA Fellows 2020-2021*

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Amina Afzal

Associate Member, Canadian Pugwash Group

Amina is an Associate Member of the Canadian Pugwash Group. Previously, she served as a senior non-resident fellow at the Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII), as well as the SSII’s Director General from 2018 - 2019. Amina graduated with an M.A. in Non Proliferation Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In addition, She holds a MSc in Defence & Strategic Studies from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad. She contributes regularly to various local and international publications including the Stimson Centre’s online publication South Asian Voices, The Diplomat, and Express Tribune.

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Iskander Akylbayev   

Executive Director, Kazakhstan Council on International Relations

Iskander is the Executive Director of the Kazakhstan Council on International Relations (KCIR). He is also an Asia 21 Fellow, Atlantic Council Millennium Leadership Fellow, Rumsfeld Fellow, and CSIS Pacific Forum Fellow. Previously, Iskander worked as a foreign policy analyst for the Qazaqstan Radio and Television Corporation and as a senior fellow at the Institute of Diplomacy of the Academy of Public Administration. Iskander has also held a fellowship at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies and is an alumnus of the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) program, where he was awarded a scholarship. Iskander received his M.A. in international area studies from the University of Tsukuba. He speaks Kazakh, Russian, Turkish, and Japanese.


Álfrún Perla Baldursdóttir

Consular Service Officer, Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Álfrún Perla is a Consular Service Officer at the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs focusing on Crisis Response. At the Ministry she has worked on European Affairs and has been part of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit as a political advisor for NATO´s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan. Before joining the Ministry, Álfrún worked for the Icelandic Institute for International Affairs. Álfrún holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, a Master’s Degree in Conflict Studies and was awarded a Chevening Scholarship funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for her studies completed in the United Kingdom.

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Logan Brandt

Mid-Career Cadre, Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Nuclear Issues

Logan recently completed training as an instructor of physics at the United States Air Force Academy, where he taught nuclear and introductory physics courses, conducted research, and performed other duties. Previously, Logan was the Branch Chief overseeing material collection operations and in-field analysis efforts to monitor various nuclear test ban treaties for the Air Force. He deployed six times to various locations around the world performing nuclear treaty monitoring and verification work, including deployments leading the verification response for North Korean nuclear tests in 2016. Logan holds a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Physics from the United States Air Force Academy.

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Jessica Bufford

Program Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative

Jessica joined the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in January 2019 as a program officer for the Materials Risk Management program. She manages efforts to strengthen fissile material and radioactive source security around the world through policy advocacy and strengthening nuclear security institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Previously, Jessica worked in the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security, supporting legal frameworks for nuclear security and facilitating coordination with other international organizations. She also worked on materials management and minimization at the US Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration, and worked previously at NTI as a Herbert J. Scoville Fellow.

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Maria Chepurina

External Relations Officer, Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization

Maria coordinates advocacy and disarmament cooperation projects for Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia at the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). She works on advancing the prohibition of nuclear testing, NPT, disarmament youth education and sustainable development for disarmament. From 2011 to 2017, Maria served at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), leading the Helsinki+40 Working Group on the Future of the OSCE and subsequently as the first-ever female Advisor to the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Maria holds a PhD in International Relations from the MGIMO University and is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris. Maria has authored papers on strategy and cooperation issues, and has written extensively on Central Asia.

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Marianne (Nari) Fisher

Visiting Research Fellow, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation (VCDNP)

Marianne Nari Fisher is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation (VCDNP). Prior to this, she was based at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and previously worked for the United States Department of Energy, including national laboratories. She holds degrees from Sciences Po (MA) and the University of Washington (BA).


María Garzón Maceda

Policy Leader Fellow, European University Institute

María has a strong professional focus on global security, disarmament, and non-proliferation issues. She is a Policy Leader Fellow at the School of Transnational Governance of the European University Institute. Previously, María worked for ten years at the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specifically on implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention. In her line of work, she has also collaborated with international organizations and NGOs. María graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires and holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute in Geneva.

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Alexander Graef

Researcher, Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg

Alexander is a researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH). His academic background is in Cultural Studies and International Relations. He received his PhD in 2019 from the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) for his thesis on the network of Russian experts and think tanks in foreign and security policy, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. He has previously collaborated on various projects with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FLEET-network) and is currently working on the future of the Open Skies treaty, CSBM in Europe, and Russian military strategy.

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Oleg Krivolapov

Research Fellow, Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies

Oleg is a research fellow at the Department for Military-Political Research at the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (ISKRAN). His research interests include U.S. missile defense policy and related issues including, U.S.-Russia relations, arms control, strategic stability, and regional security. In 2017, Oleg held a position as a scholar at CISSM. Oleg’s Political Science PhD thesis research concerned discussions in the U.S. surrounding missile defense policy between 2009-2016.

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Brynja-Huld Oskarsdottir

Strategic Communications Expert

Brynja-Huld is a strategic communications professional with a special focus in political communications. She holds a Bachelor degree in philosophy and a MSc in Security Studies from University College London. Her academic interest is grounded in political identity and terrorism. She recently returned from a year in Afghanistan where she monitored the Afghan peace process daily through her work as a Strategic Communications Officer for NATO. Prior to her Afghanistan experience Brynja worked as a risk analyst for Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre in London and as a Campaign and Communications Manager for UN Women and UNICEF. Currently she is part-time lecturing on terrorism at the University of Iceland and supervising undergraduate dissertation on terrorism and international security.

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Kanica Rakhra 

Consultant, Disarmament and International Security Affairs Division, Indian Ministry of External Affairs

Kanica is a senior consultant in the Disarmament and International Security Affairs (D&ISA) Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. She completed her PhD on India and Iran's Nuclear Programs at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. She has participated as a speaker on issues of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control at national and international conferences and was, most recently, a visiting fellow at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

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Maria Roskoshnaya

Chief Export Control Officer, ROSATOM Group

Maria is the Head of Export Control Department at the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom. Previously, Maria held positions there as the leader of the export control team and as the Project Manager of the CIS and Central & Eastern Europe division. In addition, Maria has experience as an adviser to the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control in the Russian government. Maria is a certified Export Control Specialist and holds her PhD from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO).

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Victoria Sanchez

Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State

Victoria is a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S Department of State within the Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance. Previously, she was an NNSA graduate fellow in the same office, served as a nonproliferation analyst at the Pentagon for the CWMD and Proliferation Policy Division of Army Staff, and worked as a nuclear energy and nonproliferation analyst for multinational corporations and foreign governments. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in international affairs from the University of Georgia, and an M.A. and PhD from the University of Delaware in political science and international relations. Her doctoral research focused on comparative policy change following nuclear accidents.

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Benjamin Schaller

Research Fellow, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway

Benjamin is a research fellow and recent PhD graduate at the Centre for Peace Studies at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. His research interests include arms control and military confidence-building, NATO-Russia relations, Arctic security, and Nordic Defence Cooperation. Between 2015-2016, he worked as a desk officer at the German Federal Foreign Office where he was responsible for policies in the area of arms control and military security, in connection with the German chairmanship of the OSCE in 2016.

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Astan Tugov

Second Secretary, Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Astan is the Second Secretary at the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. His main areas of focus include, strategic stability issues, the New START Treaty implementation, and the P5 format cooperation. Astan is a graduate of MGIMO University.

*The bios are respective for the 2020-2021 Fellowship year. They will not be updated after June, 2021. 
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