The DRN committee is run by a group of passionate defence and security researchers. Hannah West is the Chair, closely supported by Dan Leightley, Lucy Robinson, Lucie Pebay, Sally Coulthard, Veronika Poniscjakova, Georgie Eckersley, Migena Pengili, Jeff Tibbett, Andre Carvalho, Stephen Johnson, Tamiris Santos, Shannon Hill, Robb Bloomfield, Ann Bajo, Rupak Rattanmoj Pathak, and Baris Celik.

Former DRN committee members, Jemma Humphries, Emily Clifford, Lucy Wray, Dr Sophy Antrobus, Clare Stevens, Allyson Edwards, Sorina Toltica, Claire Lee, Gav Topley and Ben Hodges retain a valuable role in offering guidance and mentoring to the current team. We would like to acknowledge the hard work of Bethany Cuffe-Fuller, Tomos Evans and Jane Christie in helping to set up our network.

Get to know the committee and their current research areas. . .

Image Description Hannah West
University of Bath
Twitter: @hannah_r_west
Role: Chair.

I am a Research Associate at Newcastle University working on the ESRC project 'Conflict, Intimacy and Military Wives: A Lively Geopolitics', led by Dr Alice Cree and using participatory theatre as method. My doctoral research explored how the British Army has attempted to control women’s war labour and how women have negotiated their participation, through the lens of the British counterinsurgency campaigns of Malaya, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Through my research I am committed to uncovering women's stories of conflict, whether as military partners or as combatants, in order to question gendered understandings of how we know war.

Drawing on my background as a former servicewoman, I have employed creative methods, from music, video and photography to help me to reflect on my own military service and to navigate my - sometimes awkward - position in relation to feminism and military power. These reflections have led me to writing variously on the critical voice of the veteran researcher, critical thinking in the Armed Forces and the ethics of military research.

Image Description Dr Daniel Leightley
King's Centre for Military Health Research
Twitter: @DrDaniel
Role: Website Coordinator.

Daniel is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the King’s Centre for Military Health Research. His research focuses on the interface between machine learning and mobile health technologies, specifically focused on diagnosis, treatment, intervention and management of physical and mental health conditions in the Armed Forces community.

Image Description Robb Bloomfield
The University of Buckingham
Twitter: @rebloomfield
Role: Website Coordinator

Robb is a PhD student at the University of Buckingham investigating the  concept of cyber peacekeepers, and specifically the feasibility of  conducting UN-style peace enforcement operations in cyberspace - his previous research looked at contemporary British cyber defence capability.  Robb holds a BSc(Hons) in IT and Computing, and an MA in Modern War Studies and Contemporary Military History.  In his 'spare' time, Robb is a member of the Army Reserve and a retained volunteer with the Army Cadets.

Image Description Dr Veronika Poniscjakova
University of Portsmouth
RAF College academic team
Twitter: @VPoniscjakova
Role: Events manager.

Dr Veronika Poniscjakova is a Senior Teaching Fellow within the Portsmouth Military Education team (University of Portsmouth), working with the RAF. She completed her PhD in International Relations at the University of Nottingham, where she researched political violence in Israel. Her other research and teaching interests include war and politics, NATO, military strategy, Israel and the Middle East, and international relations.

Image Description Tamiris Santos
Cranfield University
Twitter: @tamispsantos
Role: Newsletter Coordinator

Tamiris is a PhD student at Cranfield University (Shrivenham campus),  and a Postdoc research associate at the Federal University of Rio Grande  do Sul (UFRGS), in Brazil, holding a PhD in Strategic Studies in the  same institution. Her current research agenda focuses on designing a  model addressing interoperability within military operations and across  the defence sector as means to understand and measure military  effectiveness, using complexity theory and systems modelling.

Image Description Lucie Pebay
University of Bath
Twitter: @LuciePebay
Role: Secretary & Events manager.

Lucie Pebay is a third year URSA funded Ph.D Student in Politics,  Languages and International Studies. Prior to starting her PhD at Bath  University, she earned a Masters in English Studies back in her home  country France, and a Masters in Strategic Studies at the University of  Aberdeen. Lucie is interested in security and strategic studies in  particular strategic culture, military transformation, and the future of  warfare. Her previous research project looked into the strategic  relevance of interventionism through an analysis of recent French  military interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is now working on her  thesis focusing on the contemporary transformation of the French land  army. Identifying core drivers and shapers of transformation, her  research relies on interview-based qualitative research to offer a  better understanding of the contemporary French army model and its  recent and ongoing transformations.

Image Description Sally Coulthard

Sally Coulthard, during her transition from a career in military education, training and personnel strategy, Sally completed an MSc in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture at Coventry University, graduating with Distinction. As a result of presentations on the masters programme, from the welfare and justice sectors, both using horticultural therapy effectively with military personnel, she recognised that it was culturally suited to a military cohort and was keen to increase access to this particular avenue of community based mental health support. Awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2019, Sally travelled to Denmark and the USA to study best practice.  

As a  result of the Fellowship, as well as the experience gained by coordinating a Nature Based Therapy (NBT) pilot programme in Northern Ireland in 2019,  Sally has founded the Defence Gardens Scheme (DGS) which is currently expanding to selected sites in England.   Further details of her research and DGS can be found at:  

The DGS NI programmes have recently been awarded funding for delivery 2020-22 from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund. These funded interventions will form the basis of further research and evaluation in the field of NBT and its potential mental health recovery benefits for the armed forces community.

Image Description Lucy Robinson
University of Oxford
Twitter: @LucyGBRobinson
Role: Twitter Manager

Lucy is a third-year DPhil candidate in Education at the University of Oxford, funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council's Grand Union DTP studentship. Her DPhil research aims to engage in a meaningful and creative way with service children to explore how military life has shaped their experiences of education and sense of self. By choosing this focus, the research seeks to widen and nuance current understanding of service children’s educational experiences in addition to furthering knowledge into how service children see themselves. As a result of this, it is hoped that the research will support in developing the professional body of knowledge and understanding of this group of children in schools and help inform the Service Pupil Premium (SPP) funding choices in addition to wider school practice.

Before embarking on her DPhil at Oxford, Lucy completed her PGCE and MEd in Primary Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Alongside her role as Twitter Manager for the DRN, Lucy is a Trustee for the Armed Forces Education Trust (AFET) – a grant-giving charity for service children.

Image Description Georgie Eckersley
Keele University
Twitter: @georgiese1
Role: Committee Member

Georgie is a Teaching Fellow in Physiotherapy and is a second year, part-time, PhD student at Keele University. Her research focuses on transition from Armed Forces service and what helps or hinders this process. This research utilises a mixed method approach and will explore aspects of mental health and quality of life. Georgie is also an Armed Forces Charity Trustee in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Image Description Migena “Megghi” Pengili
University of Leeds
Role: Committee Member

Megghi  is a PhD candidate in Politics  and International Studies at the University of Leeds.Her project is  about “The challenge of public-private partnerships for the  organisational innovation of defence policy: the 5-D epistemic influence  of the Italian and Israeli industries”.The focus is the  non-technological innovation of defence, specifically the organisational  innovation, which pertains to the institutions, governance tools and  policy performance. The investigation seeks to closely explore this type  of innovation by looking at how public institutions and their industry  partners (here Italian and Israeli) mobilise, organise and control  knowledge.  Megghi is a non-resident fellow at the Blavatnik Center for  Interdisciplinary Cyber Research, Tel Aviv University. Since January 2022, she is engaged as the assistant editor for the Civil Wars Journal.

Image Description Major Jeff Tibbett
University of Northumbria, Newcastle Business School
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Twitter: @TheGrumpyLE
Role: Committee Member

Jeff has completed a Doctorate in Business Administration and Master of Science, both focussed on Military Leadership. He is now completing an MSc in Strategic Leadership. For his DBA, Jeff explored the presence of elements of Dark Leadership traits within Officer Cadets at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Image Description André L. V. C. Carvalho
King's College London
Twitter: @carvalhoandre

André is an MPhil/PhD student at the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London. His research will address military transformation as causal mechanism for greater deterrence capabilities in East Asia, focusing on the cases of Japan and Taiwan. One of the objectives of his research is to propose a force design towards a joint Japan-Taiwan A2/AD system along the First Island Chain. His research interests are grand strategy, realist theory of IR, force design, military transformation, air power, rocket & missile artillery, and deterrence.

Image Description Ann Bajo

Ann Bajo was a former Division Chief at the Social Healing and Peacebuilding Department of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU). She managed the healing and reconciliation (H&R) program for indigenous peoples in conflict-affected areas in the Philippines. The H&R program aims to promote social cohesion and rebuild relationships between former rebels, their family and community, and the national government.

Before working in the Office of the President, she was a Senior Defense Analyst at the Office for Strategic Studies and Strategy Management, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). She has written several internally published works, including Challenges to Military Operations in Urban Terrain in the Philippines; China’s Military Militia, the Philippine’s Counterstrategy, and the AFP Joint Special Operations Doctrine.

Apart from her research work, Ann was also involved in several strategic planning initiatives of the AFP. Some of the projects she worked on include the Philippine Army’s Capability Plan, the Philippine Army’s Strategic Assessment, the AFP’s Joint Force Operating Concept, the AFP’s National Military Strategy and, the AFP’s internal security campaign called Development Support Security Plan “Kapayapaan.”

She participated in the Command Post Exercises for US-PHIL BALIKATAN (2017-2018) and the Network of ASEAN Defense and Security Institutions.

In 2017, Ann worked with the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) and was sent to Marawi to document the military operations during the Marawi crisis. In 2019, she was deployed to Maguindanao to conduct a study on the decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and to Sulu to support the Philippine Army with their CVE and counterterrorism efforts. Currently, she is working with the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in developing their Joint Special Operations Operating Concept.

She is also the founder of a start-up social enterprise called the Coffee Press Co. that supports communities that are victims of armed conflict by selling locally produced coffee from Sulu, Philippines.

Ann Bajo received her M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of the Philippines and B.A. in International Studies from De La Salle University-Manila. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at University of Portsmouth. Her research project examines Malaysia’s role in insurgent conflicts in the Philippines (Mindanao) and Thailand (Pattani).

Image Description Baris Celik

I am teaching and researching at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Sheffield. I teach a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules in areas including security, defence, international relations, and Middle East politics. I research security, defence and diplomacy in Europe from an international relations, history, and sociology perspective. My research in these areas have been published in a number of academic outlets.

Image Description Tegan Harrison
Role: Committee Secretary
Website: Cardiff University

Tegan is PhD student of Politics and International Relations at Cardiff University. Her research looks at the securitization of outer space through the case of the UN agenda item, 'the prevention of an arms race in outer space' (PAROS). In this context, the project focuses on the framing of security since the 1980s-present and across various PAROS initiatives. Tegan's research interests also include the intersection of space and nuclear security issues, specifically, the use of satellites for arms control verification and monitoring and the impact of open source intelligence for this purpose. In addition, Tegan works as a PGR tutor. She holds a BSc Sociology and an MA Security from Loughborough University.

Image Description Rupak Rattanmoj Pathak

Rupak is doing her masters in international relations from University of Portsmouth. Her research interest mainly lies in the security studies and her dissertation is on ‘Deterrence in the field of cyber,’ and to understand the applicability of concept of deterrence in the cyber domain and to emphasize the emergence of cyber threat as a non-military threat to the national security. In future also she wants to build her career and experience in the field of security and military studies through field work or further research. She is currently also working as a team member in the national museum of royal navy, Portsmouth. She holds her masters in political science and Bachelors in political science and history from University of Delhi, India. Rupak have experience in working and volunteering with NGOs and different organization back in India. Apart from her academic interest, she is also a trained Indian classical dancer and have immense interest in art, culture, music and books.

Former Committee Members and Mentors

Image Description Emily Clifford
University of Exeter
Role: Membership administrator and Newsletter coordinator.

I am a PhD student at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, funded by the South West Doctoral Training Partnership through the Economic and Social Research Council. My work focuses on the Sahel, in particular taking a feminist post-colonial perspective on current military and humanitarian intervention in the region and women’s experiences of it. I am also researching the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, with an eye to better understanding and addressing gender-based violence and sex trafficking in war zones.

Image Description Jemma Humphries
University of Bath
Twitter: @Jemma_H41
Role: Website coordinator.

"The British army, Culture and COIN" My thesis explores the dissonance between how British army literatures and individual soldiers understood and used cultural knowledge and skills to conduct counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. My research investigates how the organisational cultures of the British army may have contributed to this dissonance, analysing how different values and beliefs may impact on the acceptance and deployment of cultural understanding within counterinsurgency, and defence engagement operations in the future.

Image Description Lucy Wray
Brunel University London
Role: Twitter manager.

I am a PhD Researcher at Brunel University London using Photo-elicitation to gather the personal stories of military to civilian transition. I am a registered Occupational Therapist and frame my around the activities, occupations, people conduct everyday and the meaning those occupations have.

Previously I have worked for a charity supporting individuals back into work, dementia care, worked in military mental health research and have been a member of the Royal Naval Reserve. My experiences have given me the professional aspiration to use research as a platform for the participant voice, in particular during periods of change and with the use of creative and accessible research methods.

Image Description Sorina Toltica
University of Portsmouth,
School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature
Twitter: @SorinaToltica
Role: Committee Member

Sorina Toltica is a PhD researcher at the School of Area Studies, History, Politics and Literature, University of Portsmouth. Her current work is funded by South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership, analysing challenges of remote warfare in counterinsurgency, with a particular focus on UK military presence in Lake Chad Basin. Other research interests include conflict prevention and African Regional Organisations.

Sorina holds a BA in Languages and European Studies, an MA International Relations at the University of Portsmouth and a Masters in Social Research Methods at the University of Southampton. She has previously worked for DFID as UKRI Policy Intern and West Africa Network for Peacebuilding Senegal (WANEP) on the Early Warning and Early Response Network (WARN).

Image Description Dr Sophy Antrobus
Twitter: @DrSophyAntrobus

Dr Sophy Antrobus lectures in history and international relations with the University of Portsmouth. She completed her PhD with the Department of History at the University of Exeter in November 2019 and is an Honorary Research Fellow with her former department. She has been researching the political fight for the RAF from its inception in 1917 to the end of the 1920s. Prior to her PhD, Sophy served for twenty years in the RAF, including on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is a founding member of the Defence Research Network.

Image Description Clare Stevens
University of Bristol
Twitter: @ClareStevens86
Role: Committee Member

"Clare Stevens is based at the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) and the University of Bristol. She is also an Assistant Teacher in Politics and Sociology and is completing an interdisciplinary Ph.D. thesis on the strategic use and misuse of cyberspace by state and non-state actors. Using the idea of “boundary work” as an organizing heuristic for her analysis, she is investigating  how the ways that U.S. state actors talk about cybersecurity and cyber operations are shaping or challenging understandings of “old” strategic concepts, social categories and boundaries."

Image Description Gavin Topley
University of Cambridge
Twitter: @gavtopley
Role: Committee Member

Investigating junior soldier’s perspectives on the social impact of the British Army policy of training child soldiers (16+). Particular focus on risk of harm trajectories and social mobility.

Image Description Allyson Edwards
Swansea University
Twitter: @AllysonEdwards1

"Allyson Edwards is a final year doctoral candidate at Swansea University. Her doctoral thesis, "Russia on a throne of bayonets: Militarisation without the Military in Yeltsin's Russia, 1990-2000 was fully funded by the ESRC Wales-DTP and aims to solve the puzzle of how, why, and if militarisation of society and culture can proceed in the absence of a strong military, and what are the consequences of this process. Her research is based on extensive fieldwork in Russian archives and libraries. Allyson is a teaching fellow at Warwick University and course convenor of the history module offered on Warwick's International Foundation Programme."

Image Description Ben Hodges
University of Northampton
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @interwarintell
Role: Twitter manager.

“British Army intelligence 1923-1940” My thesis uses prosopography to investigate how the army imagined, recruited, trained and developed the men and doctrine required for its intelligence function. It raises questions about professionalism, capability and perceptions of intelligence work. Ultimately it will assess how it performed during the challenge of war in 1940.