PhD doctoral researchers

A research degree is a unique opportunity to develop new skills, develop problem-solving abilities and make a valuable contribution to new knowledge.

Current Doctoral Researchers in the centre:

Ana Alecsandru

alecsandru-anaThesis title: The Role of Trusting Relationships in Shaping the Level of Verification in Arms Control Agreements: United States – Russia Strategic Nuclear Arms Control
Working group memberships: Trust, International Political Psychology

Ana completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Bath in 2012 before being awarded a full bursary to study a Masters in IR (Security Studies) at Birmingham. Ana has completed internships at NATO (Brussels) in the WMD Non-Proliferation Centre and at the British Embassy in Bucharest in the Political Section. She has also worked for one year on a project for the European Commission in Brussels. Before joining POLSIS and the ICCS in September 2014, Ana was the research assistant on the ‘Challenges to Trust-Building in Nuclear Worlds’ project for Prof. Nicholas Wheeler. For her doctoral research, she was awarded a 1+3 studentship by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The European Leadership Network is her PhD’s collaborating partner to ensure the research remains applied and relevant.

Donatella Bonansinga 

Donatella BonansingaThesis titleAffective Perceptions and Populist Securitization Narratives: A Psychological Approach
Working group memberships: International Political Psychology 

Profile: Donatella has a background in political science, international relations and European politics. She has completed a Bachelor and two Masters at the University of Catania in Italy and the Belgian Université de Liège, in different languages. Before joining the ICCS and POLSIS, she held a project manager position at a Prague-based think tank working in the field of international education and research. Her PhD project, funded by the ESRC, unpacks the emotional and psychological appeals of populist media messages and tests their effects on citizens’ perceptions and internalisation of security practices.

Chiara Cervasio

Thesis Title: Status and Security Dilemmas in Sino-India Relations
Chiara-230x230Working Group Memberships: Trust (co-convenor) and International Political Psychology

Chiara has a background in Political Science and International Relations (BSc + MSc). Before completing her bachelor in 2014, she has worked as an intern at the European University Institute, Fiesole (FI). She obtained her Master in 2017 specializing in Politics of Contemporary Asia and writing a dissertation on the Security Dilemma in Sino-India relations. At the ICCS, she co-convenes the Trust in World Politics working group and she actively collaborates in organising seminars and other activities. At POLSIS, she has organised the inaugural POLSIS first year PhD Conference in 2018. Her research was awarded a PhD fees and bursary from the School of Government and Society (the University of Birmingham). Chiara also won the “Best Poster Award” at the University of Birmingham Research Poster Conference 2018. 

Scott Edwards

edwards-scottThesis title: Institutionalising Trust: ASEAN and the culture of Southeast Asian Diplomacy
Working group memberships: Trust, International Political Psychology

Profile: Scott is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Birmingham. His doctoral research seeks to analyse the dynamics of trust within ASEAN, and particularly whether interpersonal links within ASEAN encourages the formation of wider trust and a collective identity. He is also interested in Southeast Asian security and politics, after having resided in Malaysia, and has produced work for Transparency International in the areas of defence and security. He can speak Malay and Indonesian.

Sumedh Rao

rao-sumedhThesis title: Trust and Cooperation as Social Identity in Northern Ireland
Working group memberships: Trust, International Political Psychology

Profile: Sumedh joined the ICCS in 2015 having worked as Research Fellow with GSDRC since 2010. He has worked as a policy analyst and researcher with the OECD, DFID, ODI and Development Initiatives. He has produced work for multilateral agencies (World Bank, UNDP, EC, WHO, OECD, Commonwealth Secretariat, UNECA, UNPBSO, UNESCO), bilateral agencies (DFID, Australia DFAT), governmental bodies (UK FCO, South Africa CoGTA), and non-governmental organisations (Amnesty International, U4 Resource Centre, International Justice Mission, Development Initiatives, Plan UK).

Alice Spilman

Thesis title: Conceptions of Responsibility Among Nuclear Weapons Possessorsspilman-alice
Working group memberships: Trust, Responsible Nuclear Sovereignty

Alice was awarded a 1st class BA in Politics from Newcastle University in 2016. From there Alice joined the ICCS at the University of Birmingham on the MSc Global Cooperation and Security, graduating with a Distinction in 2017. During her first year with the ICCS Alice competed in the University’s delegation to the International Model NATO Conference in Washington DC, undertook an intensive module at The University of Delhi, India, in South Asian security and began looking into Responsible Nuclear Sovereignty on an ICCS work experience placement. One year on, Alice has returned to the ICCS to complete a 1+3 ESRC studentship on Conceptions of Responsibility Among Nuclear Weapon Possessors in collaboration with the British American Security Information Council (BASIC).

Thomas Stocks

stocks-thomasThesis title: Exploring the Support for Different Human Rights Contextualisations in the UK
Working group memberships: Trust, International Political Psychology

Profile: Thomas studied politics at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he focused mainly on political theory, human rights, and the politics of ecology. During his MA at the University of Sheffield, he began focusing more directly on human rights, while also completing modules on international law and research methods training. Here, he completed an independent research project on the rights experiences of LGBT+ people in the United Kingdom which was recently published. After this project, he received ESRC funding to complete a PhD at the University of Birmingham, which explores differences in perceptions of human rights relating to different specific groups in the United Kingdom.


Joshua Baker

Joshua completed his PhD with the ICCS, entitled 'Imagining empathy: counterfactual methods and the US-Iran security dilemma', in March 2017. He is currently a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Leicester. He is principally interested in integrating multi-disciplinary research on empathy, trust, and emotions with IR work on international conflict, diplomacy, and nuclear politics. To this end, he is currently researching role of empathy in promoting cooperation between adversaries in international politics, using the US-Iran nuclear conflict as a case study. He is also researching Brazil and Turkey's failed attempt to mediate between the United States and Iran in 2010, as well as the relationship between security dilemma theorising and multidisciplinary research on empathy. 

He can be contacted at or


Lindsay Clark


Lindsay completed her PhD thesis ‘Ghostly Warriors: Gender, Haunting, and Military Technologies’ in 2016. From April 2017 – October 2018, Lindsay was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at University of New South Wales, Canberra working on the project ‘New Technologies and the Ethics of War’ with Prof. Toni Erskine. In December 2018 she joined the University of Southampton as a Research Fellow on the European Research Council-funded project ‘Emergent Ethics of Drone Violence: Toward a Comprehensive Governance Framework (DRONETHICS)’ under principal investigator Prof. Christian Enemark (more information here). She has published in the International Feminist Journal of Politics and has a book forthcoming in 2019 with the Routledge Gender and Security Studies Series. Lindsay’s current role profile can be found here. Lindsay tweets @lindsayclark_


Clark, Lindsay C. (2018) Grim reapers: ghostly narratives of masculinity and killing in drone warfare, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 20:4, 602-623, DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2018.1503553

Rhys Crilley

criley-rhysThe Visual Politics of Legitimation in the Digital Age: The Cases of the British Army and the Syrian Opposition.
September 2012 - May 2016.

Rhys completed in 2016 in the Department of Politics and International Studies, and the ICCS at the University of Birmingham. His PhD research explored how political actors use images on social media sites to claim legitimacy for the use of force, and analysed two case studies of the British Army and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. In 2016 he was awarded the International Studies Association International Communication Section's Best Paper Award. He has since published in International Affairs, Media, War and Conflict, Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, Critical Studies on TerrorismCritical Studies on Security and Critical Military Studies, alongside several book chapters for edited collections. After finishing his PhD Rhys was appointed as a one year teaching fellow in Intelligence and International Security at the University of Warwick. He is now a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Global Media and Communication at The Open University, where he is currently working on the AHRC funded 'Reframing Russia' project. He is also currently turning his PhD into a monograph for a university press. Rhys tweets at @rhyscrilley.


Manor, I. & Crilley, R. (2018) The aesthetics of violent extremist and counter violent extremist communication. in Bjola, C. & Pamment, J. Countering Online Propaganda and Extremism: The Dark Side of Digital Diplomacy (London: Routledge) pp.121-139

Manor, I. & Crilley, R. (2018) Visually framing the Gaza War of 2014: The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on TwitterMedia, War and Conflict, 11(4) pp.369-391.

Crilley, R. (2018) International Relations in the age of 'post-truth' politicsInternational Affairs, 94(1), pp.417-425.

Crilley, R. & Chatterje-Doody, P. (2018) Security studies in the age of 'post-truth' politics: In defense of poststructuralismCritical Studies on Security, Online First 

Crilley, R. (2017) Seeing Syria: The Visual Politics of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces on FacebookMiddle East Journal of Culture and Communication10(2-3), pp.133-158.

da Silva, R. and Crilley, R. (2017) “Talk about terror in our back gardens”: an analysis of online comments about British foreign fighters in SyriaCritical Studies on Terrorism10(1), pp.162-186.

Crilley, R. & de Silva, R. (2016) '"Talk about terror in our back gardens": An analysis of online comments about British foreign fighters in Syria' Critical Studies on Terrorism.

Crilley, R. (2016) 'Like and Share Forces: Making Sense of Military Social Media Sites' in Shepherd, L. & Hamilton, C. (eds) Understanding Popular Culture and World Politics in the Digital Age (London; Routledge) pp.51-67.

Crilley, R. (2016) 'Counter-recruitment and anti-military organising: Lessons from the field' Critical Military Studies, 2 (2).

Crilley, R. (2015) 'Seeing Strategic Narratives?', Critical Studies on Security, 3 (3), 331-333.

Daniel Pinheiro Rio Tinto de Matos

Thesis title: Tracing the Security Dilemma in Civil Wars: how fear and insecurity can lead to intra-state violence?

Daniel completed his PhD thesis 'Tracing the security dilemma in civil wars: how fear and insecurity can lead to intra-state violence' in the Department of Politics and International Studies, and the ICCS at the University of Birmingham. His doctoral thesis is evaluates the performance of the Security Dilemma as an explanation for the outbreak of violence in civil wars, drawing from the cases of post-decolonisation violence in Angola and Mozambique. Daniel also holds a Master in Political Science and International Relations at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Lisbon’s New University (NOVA-FCSH) and a BA in International Relations from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

Currently, Daniel is a Nuclear Security Fellow with the School of International Relations, FGV-SP, where he is working on a project on the impact of armed violence and criminal activities on the nuclear security challenges and policies, particularly looking at Brazil's context. Previously, he has contributed to the Brazilian Naval War College (EGN), the Brazilian Peace Operations Joint Training Center (CCOPAB), the Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI), the Portuguese Institute for National Defence (IDN) and Oxford Analytica. His broad research interests include International Relations Theory, International Security, Conflict Studies, Defence Studies, Political Violence, Civil Wars & Intra-State Conflicts, Nuclear Politics, The Changing Character of War, Insurgencies & Asymmetric Warfare, Peace Operations, Civil Defence & Safety, Strategy on Conventional (Air, Land & Sea) & Non-Conventional (NBC, Remote, Cyber, Space) Environments, Case-study Methodology and Process Tracing Techniques. His regional expertise covers sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Daniel tweets at @driotinto and can be also contacted at

More Information: Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS)