Staff & Interns

Andreas Persbo

Executive Director | Editor-in-Chief

International law | Verification

Mr Andreas Persbo is the Executive Director of the London-based Verification Research. Training and Information Centre. He has been working on a range of issues at the centre for more than a decade. His focus has been on on-site inspections, with a particular emphasis on on-site inspections of warhead dismantlement, fissile material controls and monitoring, and CTBT inspection methodology.

Mr Persbo holds a juris kandidat from Stockholm University, Sweden, as well as a diploma in Nuclear Law from the University of Montpellier I, France. Before VERTIC, Andreas has worked with the British American Security Information Council. Before that, he served at a Swedish District Court. In the early 1990s, he completed two tours of duty as a United Nations Peacekeeper: in Lebanon and Former Yugoslavia.

His latest publications are Persbo, Andreas, ‘Verification requirements’ in Lodgaard, Sverre, ed. Stable Nuclear Zero: The Vision and Its Implications for Disarmament Policy. S.l.: Routledge, 2016; and Persbo, Andreas and Drobrysz, Sonia, ‘Strengthening the IAEA verification capabilities’ in Nuclear Weapons: Strengthening the International Legal Regime. Edited by Ida Caracciolo, Marco Pedrazzi and Talitha Vassalli Di Dachenhausen. Utrecht: Eleven International Publishing, 2016.

View his public profile (which includes publications) on Linked-in.

Based in London, United Kingdom.

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Angela Woodward

Deputy Executive Director | Acting Programme Director for Special Projects

International law | Verification | Implementation | Enforcement

Angela Woodward was appointed Deputy Executive Director in October 2014. She joined VERTIC in April 1999 and held a succession of posts, including Executive Director from 2007-2009 when she stepped down to return to live in New Zealand, from where she managed the NIM Programme from 2009-2014.

She is the editor-in-chief of VERTIC’s publication series. She specialises in the legal, policy and technology aspects of arms control and disarmament verification, primarily in the biological, chemical and conventional weapons fields. She has published and spoken widely on BTWC implementation and verification. In 2005 she initiated VERTIC’s programme to provide legislative assistance for national implementation of the BTWC.

In addition to her VERTIC work, she has served on New Zealand’s Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control (PACDAC) since 2011 and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the School of Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She is also a UK expert to the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation and Centres of Excellence Initiative. Angela was an adviser to the chair of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Verification in All its Aspects in 2006, and from April 2006 to March 2007 she was the Legal Coordinator for the EU Joint Action on the BTWC (2006/184/CFSP).

During January 1998 to April 1999 she worked for the Programme for Promoting Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PPNN) at the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies, University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Angela holds an LLM in Public International Law (Merit) and a post-graduate certificate in higher education (PGCHE) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, and a BA (Hons) in Political Science and an LLB from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

Based in London, United Kingdom.

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Dr Sonia Drobysz

Programme Director for National Implementation

International law | Verification | Implementation

Sonia is the Programme Director for VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures programme where she works on the national implementation of international instruments related to nuclear security, UNSC Resolution 1540 and the Biological Weapons Convention. She analyses legislation, provides legal advice on draft laws and regulations, assists in legislative drafting, raises awareness and publishes on the international and national legal framework for non-proliferation and nuclear security. She also contributed to the development of legislation drafting tools, such as VERTIC’s online BWC Legislation Drafting Assistant and National Legislation Implementation Kit on Nuclear Security.

Sonia holds a PhD in international law from University Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne. Her thesis looked at the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. She also holds a master degree in international law and international organisations from University Paris I, and a university diploma in international nuclear law from University Montpellier 1/ OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. Sonia attended the public international law session of The Hague Academy of International Law in 2009.

Sonia formerly taught international relations, international law and constitutional law at the Sorbonne University. She was also an associate research fellow at the French Centre for International Security and Arms Control Studies (CESIM) where she worked and published on the IAEA safeguards system.

She speaks English, French and Spanish.

Based in Paris, France.

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Larry MacFaul

Programme Director for Verification and Monitoring

International Relations | Verification

Larry is the Programme Director for the Verification and Monitoring Programme where he works on arms control, security, environment and trade issues. He has published and spoken widely on these areas. Larry carries out analysis, project development and management, and government capacity-building. His work has covered a range of issues including illicit trafficking in radioactive materials, nuclear safeguards, nuclear disarmament verification, conventional arms trade controls, the UN climate change treaty, and illegal production and trade in natural resources. He works with governments, international organisations, businesses, research institutes and other stakeholders.

Larry is a member of the editorial board for the international journal Climate Law.

Larry holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a BA Hons from Oxford University.

Based in London, United Kingdom.

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Yasemin Balci

Senior Legal Officer

International law | Implementation

Yasemin Balci is a Senior Legal Officer for VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures Programme. She provides legal advice on the legislative implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention, UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and agreements related to nuclear security.

Yasemin holds an LLM in international law from the University of Cambridge, where she studied on a Huygens Scholarship. She finished her honours undergraduate degree at University College Utrecht and obtained her law degree from the University of Amsterdam. She has a university diploma in international nuclear law from University Montpellier 1/OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.

Yasemin formerly worked as a Legal Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in the private legal sector in London, and as a policy officer at Cordaid, an international development NGO in The Hague.

She speaks Dutch, English, (intermediate) French and Turkish.

Based in London, United Kingdom.

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Alberto Muti

Senior Researcher

International Relations | Verification

Alberto Muti is a Senior Researcher for VERTIC’s Verification and Monitoring Programme. He leads the programme’s work on IAEA Safeguards and Nuclear Security, and carries out research and analysis on DPRK, nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear verification. He has also contributed to projects on other issues, including chemical security, biological weapons verification, and conventional and cyber security.

Alberto’s work and expertise encompass planning and delivering capacity-building programmes, conducting workshops, designing tabletop simulations and “serious games” for research and training purposes, and developing innovative tools to facilitate and enhance research and analytical work.

Alberto holds a Master’s Degree in Non-Proliferation and International Security for King’s College London. In the past, he has worked for King’s College London’s Center for Science and Security Studies, focusing on Nuclear Security training and education.

Based in London, United Kingdom.

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Noel Stott

Senior Researcher

International Relations | Verification

Noel Stott joined VERTIC in November 2016 after more than 14 years as a Senior Researcher and then Senior Research Fellow at the South African-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS). He has extensive experience in all aspects of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation having worked on the challenges facing African states by the proliferation of conventional weapons. In particular, Mr Stott has knowledge of small arms and light weapons. In 2007, he established and led ISS’ programme on ‘Africa’s Development and the Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction’. This programme aimed to enhance Africa’s role in international efforts to strengthen weapons of mass destruction disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives in the context of Africa’s developmental imperatives through the provision of primary research, policy recommendations and training activities.

Recent publications include: Amelia Broodryk and Noël Stott, ‘Progress towards securing Africa’s nuclear resources’, ISS Research Report, March 2012; Noël Stott, ‘The Treaty of Pelindaba: Towards the full implementation of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty’, ISS Research Report, March 2011; Nicolas Kasprzyk, Mothepa Shadung and Noël Stott (eds), ‘Towards the 2016 Comprehensive Review: former experts assess UNSC Resolution 1540’, ISS Monograph No. 19, October 2015; Nicolas Kasprzyk, Emmanuelle Maitre, Xavier Pasco and Noël Stott, ‘The Hague Code of Conduct regulates ballistic missiles. How will African states benefit from subscribing?’, ISS Policy Brief, 29 September 2016; Annie DuPre, Nicolas Kasprzyk and Noël Stott, ‘Cooperation between African states and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’, ISS Research Report, November 2016; Sarah Parker, Nelson Alusala, Mothepa Shadung and Noël Stott, ‘National implementation of selected arms control instruments: a legislative guide for African states’, ISS Research Report, December 2016.

Based in London, United Kingdom, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Leanna Burnard

Legal Officer

International Law | Implementation

Leanna Burnard serves as a Legal Officer for VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures Programme. She advises states on the implementation of their international legal obligations concerning biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and materials.

Before joining the programme, Leanna acquired extensive experience, working both with international and domestic law. For instance, she provided legal assistance to REDRESS, a London-based non-governmental organisation, on matters relating to domestic and international prosecutions for torture. In Australia, Leanna worked in criminal defence law as a Managing Solicitor at the Aboriginal Legal Service. She also worked as a Research Officer in the Attorney General’s Department in Sydney. Leanna undertook internships and volunteered in international law and human rights in the Netherlands, the West Bank, India, South Africa, and on Christmas Island.

Leanna holds an LL.M in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights from the Geneva Academy, as well as two bachelor’s degrees in law and journalism from Sydney, Australia.

She is based in VERTIC’s London office.

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Celeste Donovan


International Relations | Enforcement

Celeste joined VERTIC in May 2018 as a Researcher for the Special Projects team.

Celeste holds a Master’s degree (Distinction) from the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago and an Honours degree (First Class) in Diplomacy and International Relations and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Canterbury, both in New Zealand.

Celeste previously worked as a Licensing Assessor and an Adviser for the Financial Markets Authority in New Zealand, involved in developing the new licensing regime and providing advice and ensuring compliance with the financial adviser’s regime. She has held several positions conducting research, project management, communications, stakeholder management and staff development in the political sector in New Zealand. She was also a Research Scholar at Statistics New Zealand.

Based in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Elena Gai


International Relations | Verification

Elena is a Researcher in the Verification and Monitoring Programme, where she conducts research and analysis on non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control with a particular focus on nuclear issues.

Before joining VERTIC, Elena served in the Office of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the Italian G7 Presidency. She was also a delegation member during the sessions of the Group of Governmental Experts on Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons or Other Nuclear Explosive Devices and the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations.

In the past, she had the opportunity to sharpen her knowledge of nuclear non-proliferation related topics at the NATO Nuclear Policy Directorate, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation, the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-proliferation, the Arms Control Association and the United Nations First Committee on Disarmament.

Elena graduated cum laude both in International Relations and European Studies (MA) and in International Studies (BA) at the University of Florence. She also holds a Master’s Diploma in Diplomatic Studies from The Italian Society for the International Organisation (SIOI) and is a member of the ‘Réseau Nucléaire et Stratégie – Nouvelle Génération’ (Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique).

She is fluent in Italian, English and French and has an upper-intermediate level of Russian and Spanish.

Elena’s based at VERTIC’s London office.

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Cristina Rotaru


International Relations | Enforcement

Cristina joined VERTIC in July 2018 as a Researcher in the Special Projects team.

Her last role was with Content Enablers, a U.S.-based compliance training company for which she provided expertise to industry, predominantly in the aerospace and defence sector, on international trade regulations, with a specific focus on export controls, sanctions and embargoes, and import restrictions.

Previously, Cristina worked as a Research Associate for Project Alpha at King’s College London to understand and counter illicit nuclear proliferation-related trade and activities, and as Principal Researcher for the World Export Controls Review (WorldECR), a London-based publication covering global issues around export controls and sanctions. Her academic background is in international conflict regulation and security, for which she obtained an MA in Conflict Resolution from King’s College London. She also holds two Bachelor degrees, in Journalism and Political Science, from the University of Vienna (Austria), as well as a certification in Middle Eastern Studies from Bilgi University Istanbul (Turkey).

She is fluent in Romanian, German, and English, and has working proficiency in Spanish, and French.

Cristina is based in London.

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Thomas Brown

Associate Legal Officer

International Law | Implementation

Thomas joined VERTIC in April 2019 and works as an Associate Legal Officer for VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures Programme. He advises states on the implementation of their international legal obligations concerning biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and materials.

Thomas holds an Advanced LLM in Public International Law from the University of Leiden. He also holds an undergraduate degree in Law and Criminology from the University of Sheffield, and completed the International and European Legal Studies Programme at the University of Antwerp.

He has previous experience working as a Research Fellow for the international law NGO Adalah, in the private legal sector in London, and has volunteered as a writer for a number of legal organisations.

Based in London, United Kingdom

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Julia Masterson


International Relations

Julia is an MA candidate in Non-Proliferation and International Security at King’s College London, where she is currently writing her dissertation on Brazil’s contribution to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. She holds a BA in International Affairs and Security Policy from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and has previously interned at the Centre for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction (CSWMD) and the National Security Archive.

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Helen Cummins


Helen joined Vertic in September 2017 as Administrator. She provides office management and support to all the team.

Helen’s career to date has chiefly been in Banking and where she was responsible for managing operations, creating business procedures, streamlining processes and building controls.

Based in London, United Kingdom.

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