ACONA Fellows 2022-2023

Mayra Ameneiros Headshot.jpg

Mayra Ameneiros 

Research Associate, King's College London

Mayra is specialized in Biosecurity, Biorisk Management, WMD, Science Diplomacy and Global Health Security. She is a Research Associate at King´s College London, Centre for Science and Security Studies, at the Department of War Studies, where she works to increase public awareness of high-containment labs around the world, to ensure safe, secure and responsible pathogen research. Ameneiros is an “Emerging Leader in Biosecurity” Fellow at Johns Hopkins University´s Center for Health Security, a Director of Strategic Engagement & Development at Biopreparedness Int, Senior Advisor at PandemicTech, and Advisory Board member at Merrick & Co. Ameneiros is the Deputy Coordinator for the Next Generation Global Health Security Network where she serves as a liaison to the Global Health Security Agenda Consortium and the Biological Weapons Convention NGO working group. She holds a MSc in Biochemistry and a postgraduate degree in international security, disarmament, and non-proliferation of WMD. During the last years, she has delivered presentations at various international organizations such as NTI, UNIDIR; BWC; UNODA, among others.

Esson Anzaku.jpg

Esson Anzaku

Foreign Service Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria 

Esson is a Foreign Service Officer at the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he assists with the development and implementation of foreign policy. He had previously worked with the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, where he assisted in maintaining Nigeria’s obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear materials and peaceful use of nuclear technology, including physical security, safeguard and emergency preparedness. He holds a masters in Energy and Environmental Management and a Bachelor's degree in Biology.

Ance Headshot.jpeg

Ance Baura 

Diplomat, Permanent Mission of Latvia to the United Nations 

Ance Baura is a diplomat at the Permanent Mission of Latvia to the United Nations. Previously, Ance worked as an expert in the Arms control division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. She is also an Alumna of the United Nations 2018 Disarmament Fellowship Programme.

Derbilova_Acona_headshot_edited.jpg

Katia Derbilova 

PhD Candidate, Institute of World Economy and International Relations

Katia is a PhD candidate at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, where she compares and contrasts the prospects of transport integration projects initiated by the US, India and China in the Asia Pacific region. Katia previously worked in Southeast Asia and researched the economic impact of internal conflict in Myanmar and Indonesia, as well as volunteered in the deep South of Thailand. Katia holds a BA from the Moscow State University and an MPhil from the University of Oxford. She is a Future Energy Leader of the World Energy Council.

Nikita Degtyarev Headshot.JPG

Nikita Degtyarev

Research Consultant, Open Nuclear Network (ONN)

Nikita is an Analyst for Open Nuclear Network (ONN), where he works on the testing of tools for open-source data analysis and the development of interactive databases on missiles and sanctions. His research interests include nuclear risk reduction, nuclear non-proliferation, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and NATO nuclear policy. Nikita holds a bachelor’s degree from Ural Federal University (Yekaterinburg) and a dual Master’s degree from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), majoring in global security, nuclear policy and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mohammad Eslami Headshot.jpg

Mohammad Eslami 

International Relations Researcher, Research Center for Political Science (CICP)

Mohammad Eslami is currently a researcher at the Research Centre for Political Science (CICP) at the University of Minho in Portugal where he investigates Iran's Strategic Culture and its Ballistic Missle Program. His research interests are primarily related to International Security, Arms control, Nuclear Proliferation, and Middle East Studies. He is also the leading editor of the project "The Arms Race in the Middle East and Its Implications for regional and International Security". This project brings together over 40 outstanding scholars from leading universities in the US, UK, Australia, and Middle Eastern countries to address the proliferation of conventional and unconventional weapons Middle East. He published in International Affairs, Third World Quarterly, and Spanish Journal of Political Science, and several book chapters in books published by Springers and Palgrave Macmillan, among others.

Jingjie He Headshot.jpg

Jingjie He

PhD Candidate, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 

Jingjie is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a visiting scholar with the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Her current research explores the impact of Middle Eastern wars on the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Previously, Jingjie had research experience in several world-renowned think tanks in China and Israel. Aside from her academic career, Jingjie is also a certified international business analyst with over seven years of experience in hi-tech, homeland security, and defense industries. Jingjie holds an MA in Political Science (Security and Diplomacy Studies) from Tel Aviv University and a BA in International Relations (International Diplomacy, Security, and Peace Studies) from the University of British Columbia.

Ekaterina Lapanovich Headshot.jpg

Ekaterina Lapanovich

Assistant, Ural Federal University (UrFU)

Ekaterina Lapanovich is a PhD Candidate and an Assistant at the Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Ural Federal University. She holds Bachelor’s degree in Oriental and African Studies and Master’s degree in International Relations, both from Ural Federal University. Ekaterina researches and teaches in the areas of international security. Her particular focus is on nuclear deterrence, nuclear disarmament and the ban treaty. Ekaterina is a member of the CTBTO Youth Group and the Young Deep Cuts Commission (YDCC). In 2021-2022, she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP).

Laura Lepsy Headshot.jpg

Laura Lepsy 

Junior Expert and Researcher on Arms Control Matters 

Laura is a junior expert and resarcher on arms control matters ranging from small arms and light weapons to conventional arms control in the OSCE-area. She has worked on these issues for the German Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Defense. In her Master's, she studied international relations with a focus on international law at TU Dresden. She holds a B.A. in Governance from University College Freiburg. Her research interests include norm dynamics in internatianal security and the role of coercion in arms control.

Thomas MacDonald.jpg

Thomas MacDonald

Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Thomas D. MacDonald is a fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has an interdisciplinary scientific background which he applies to interesting technical problems which are interwoven with political concerns. His current research focuses on the survivability of nuclear forces in the face of emerging and disruptive technologies as well as the verification of nuclear arms control and nonproliferation agreements. He completed his PhD in nuclear science and engineering at MIT.

Acona logo white v1_edited.jpg

Tetiana Melnyk

Political Advisor (APA), European Parliament 

Tetiana is an accredited parliamentary assistant on political affairs to the MEP Marek Balt, European Parliament as well as a Research Consultant at the Odessa Center for Nonproliferation (OdCNP). Tetiana holds a Ph.D. in Political Sciences (2021), MA degree in EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies, College of Europe (2018) and MA degree in international relations, Odessa I.I. Mechnikov University(2015). Dr. Melnyk made number of fellowships including CNS at MIIS; NATO, Ukrainian embassy in Latvia, EU mission to Ukraine etc and is an author of a number of international and Ukrainian publications. Her scientific interests include: Nuclear deterrence, weapons, strategy and policy; arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament in conjunction with European and Euro-Atlantic security; EU transition to green energy and climate neutrality.

Kristine Madden Headshot.jpg

Kristine Madden 

Nuclear Safeguards Experts, International Atomic Energy Agency

Kristine is a nuclear expert and international civil servant specializing in nonproliferation, nuclear energy, IAEA safeguards, and gender mainstreaming. Kristine holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge, where her dissertation focused on identifying factors for success in the negotiation of nuclear arms control treaties. Kristine also holds a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences from the University of Michigan.

Tomas Nagy.jpg

Tomáš Nagy

Senior Policy Advisor, Ministry of Defense of the Slovak Republic 

Tomáš is Senior Policy Advisor to Deputy Minister of Defence of the Slovak Republic. His professional focus is on transatlantic cooperation, regional security and nuclear affairs. Tomáš is alumnus of Metropolitan University Prague, Sciences Po Paris and University of St Andrews where he majored in global security, nuclear policy and US politics. Prior to his public service he was in charge of the defence policy portfolio at the GLOBSEC Policy Institute. Currently, he is also a Re.ThinkCEE Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US working on regional security cooperation.

Alain Ponce Blancas Headshot.JPG

Alain Ponce Blancas 

Research and Communication Officer, Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL)

Alain currently serves as Research and Communication Officer at the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL). He previously worked at the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs where he dealt with nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and export control issues. Alain holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a dual Master’s degree from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

Helen Inga von Ernst_edited.jpg

Helen von Ernst 

Head of Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland

Helen Inga is the Head of Human Rights at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Iceland. Prior to this role, she worked on human rights and gender issues at Iceland’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. Helen Inga holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Law from the University of Iceland and a MSc in International Relations from London School of Economics and Political Science.

Kathryn Zander Headshot.jpeg

Kate Zander 

Distinguished Analyst, Analytic Services, Inc.

Kate is a Distinguished Analyst at Analytic Services, Inc., supporting the U.S. Secretary of Defense's Threat Reduction and Arms Control Office. In this capacity, she provides advice and subject matter expertise to assist in the implementation and oversight of arms control agreements and threat reduction programs, chemical and biological weapons elimination missions, and the development of capabilities to counter WMD. Kate’s previous experience includes assisting the U.S. National Defense University and Project on National Security Reform in extensive examinations of U.S. capabilities to create whole-of-government solutions to national security challenges. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs and International Studies from Miami University and a Masters in Communication from George Mason University.