Former Staff

Former Staff

An overview of BIGS former employees, research and visiting fellows.

BIGS Alumni

Dr. Constance P. Baban was a Senior Research Fellow and Project Leader at the Brandenburg Institute for Society and Security (BIGS) in Potsdam, where she headed the project “RiskViz – Providing a Risk Situation Picture of Industrial IT Security in Germany" funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. She holds a PhD (“summa cum laude") and a Master of Arts (“magna cum laude") in Applied Linguistics, Political Science, and Media & Communication Science from Leibniz Universität Hannover. Her PhD thesis on Germany’s political security discourse from 2001 to 2009 has been published by Springer VS in 2013. Constance has several years of professional experience in academia and research, the public sector as well as in the field of security affairs, technology and digitization. She is also a Non-Resident Fellow in the Foreign and Domestic Policy Program at AICGS at Johns Hopkins University – a transatlantic think tank based in Washington, DC. Moreover, she holds the position of Vice-Chairman of the Young British Chamber of Commerce in Germany / Berlin-Brandenburg Region, a BCCG membership network of young business executives.

Tyson Barker was a Senior Research Fellow at BIGS from May 2016 to Feburary 2017. Prior to that, he served as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the US State Department in Washington, D.C. from 2014 to 2015. Prior to joining State, he worked for 6 years at the Bertelsmann Foundation, most recently as the Director for Trans-Atlantic Relations where his portfolio included the European-American economic relationship, US-EU cooperation, the Congressional European Parliament Initiative (CEPI) and tracking rising political leaders in the US and Europe. He has written for numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Politico, the Atlantic, National Interest and Spiegel.

Anne-Sophie Belzile graduated from Laval University, Quebec, in Public Communications. She has worked in the political field for more than 7 years, starting at the provincial level working for the Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety for Quebec, and more recently in Ottawa, Canada’s Capital City, at the Federal level. In Ottawa, Anne-Sophie worked for the Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition in the Senate of Canada, the official Opposition Leader’s Office in the House of Commons, and later on for a Member of Parliament, as an Executive Assistant and Policy Advisor. Anne-Sophie also took part in two National General Elections, where she worked in the war room (2008) and as part of the core group travelling with the Leader across Canada (2011). Before joining BIGS’ team as a Visiting Fellow in October 2012, she worked for the head of a party group in the Canadian House of Commons. At BIGS Anne-Sophie is conducting a comparative study of various like-minded states concerning security aspects in development.

Alexis Below was a Junior Research Fellow at BIGS from August 2012 to May 2016, where he was working on selected issues at the interface between foreign, development and security policy. He studied International Relations, International Economics and Conflict Management in Dresden, Beijing, Bologna and Washington, D.C., receiving his Master of Arts from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in 2011. Prior to joining BIGS, Alexis worked for the nongovernmental organization Partners for Democratic Change and as a consultant for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). He also gained professional experience working for, among others, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), the Federal Foreign Office, and The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). At BIGS, Alexis worked on the collaborative research project fit4sec, the competence center for security and technology, funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education, where he was focusing on vocational training and university-level education for civil security.

Dr. Annamarie Bindenagel Šehović is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at GGI’s Peace & Security Section as well as the European Center for Global Education, where she coordinates the blended learning course (with Georgetown University) on Transatlantic Approaches to Global Peace, Security and Diplomacy. Her research and expertise focuses on human security and global insecurities, with particular emphases on health security, non-citizen rights, and security in Africa.

Dr. Šehović is also Associate Fellow at the Potsdam Center for Policy and Management (PCPM). In the winter term (2017/2018) she was Acting Professor, Chair of International Relations at the University of Potsdam, Germany. Previously, she was Research Associate at PAIS, the University of Warwick, UK, and lecturer in international relations at the University of Erfurt, Germany, and at the Willy-Brandt-School of Public Policy. She is a consultant at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and Senior Anaylst at In on Africa (IOA), based in South Africa. She is also the founder of Bindenagel Consulting, cc in South Africa.

Dr. Wolfgang Bretschneider was a Senior Research Fellow at BIGS from 2018 to 2019. He is particularly interested in regulatory, welfare economic and institutional issues of internal security and worked, among others, in the BMBF project “The Order of the Security Market (OSiMa)". Bretschneider studied economics and music in Leipzig and received his doctorate in economics from the University of Leipzig in 2016. He is a member of the Schumpeter Centre for the Study of Social and Economic Change (JSEC) at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena.

Dr. Stefano Casertano studied Business and Economics at the L.u.i.s.s.-Guido Carli University and in 2008 received an M.B.A. from Columbia University (New York). In 2011 he got his Ph.D. at Potsdam University in International Politics with his thesis “Peace and Conflict in Oil and Gas Rich Regions. Analyzing the Patterns of Resource Related Nationalism". From January 2011 till Dezember 2012 Stefano was “Senior Research Fellow" at BIGS. His research focus is the security of energy supply, with special interest on the new developments of renewables. He is still connected with BIGS as a non-resident fellow.

Svenja Gottschling studied Public Administration in Konstanz, London and Potsdam. Her major fields were International Relations and International Organisations and Administration. During her studies she did an eight month internship at the UN in New York and worked as an assistant at the Goethe Institute in Berlin. She wrote her diploma thesis about Hindu Fundamentalism in India. After her studies she worked as a freelancer for the Department of Foreign Affairs and for a social welfare company. Svenja Gottschling worked as Team Assistant at BIGS from May 2013 until May 2015.

Yvonne Gruchmann studied economics at the University of Gothenburg as well as at the University of Potsdam with a focus in statistics. She was a teaching and research assistant for Public Finance at the University of Potsdam and worked at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), the European Institute for International Economic Relations (EIIW) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Yvonne was a Research Fellow at BIGS since September 2013. She worked at the WISIND project, where the team at BIGS was designing an economic survey for the security industry. In collaboration with the DIW, the WISIND project generates new data for a security index that seeks to measure security. Since 2015 Yvonne was involved with RiskViz, a project aiming to detect the cyber-risk on cyber-physical systems of critical infrastructure. Her focus within the project rest with risk modelling.

Dr. S. Chase Gummer worked as Senior Research Fellow at BIGS from 2012 until 2014. He has worked at the Office of Global Affairs and Public Policy at Daimler Chrysler AG and taught international history at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service Qatar in Doha, Qatar. He earned his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. from Georgetown University. He has written widely on issues relating to international economics, economic history, as well as the politics of the European Union. Dr. Gummer now works for the Wall Street Journal in Germany.

Vera Joschko studied a double-bachelor-degree in Sociology and Arabic-Islamic Studies at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität and, successfully, obtained her master degree ‘Modern South- and Southeast Asian studies’ at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She also worked as a student assistant at the Student Service Center of the Humboldt-Universität. Before commencing her studies, Vera Joschko, completed an apprenticeship as a certified retail merchant and worked as a project assistant in a recruitment consulting. From August 2015 to March 2017, Vera worked at the BIGS as office management.

Alexandra Korn worked at BIGS as a Junior Research Fellow from September 2017 till March 2020. She worked on the pilot project “Integration at eye level – peer mediation of values for refugees”, which is funded under the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth’s program Demokratie leben!. The project aimed at complementing existing methods of value mediation in integration by means of creating a platform for dialogue on equal footing, based on peer group and theatre education approaches.

After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in European Studies from Maastricht University, she gathered first working experience in public relations at the United Nations Association of Germany in Berlin. Subsequently, she completed a traineeship in public affairs at European media network EurActiv and most recently worked as a Program Manager for the European Foundation for Democracy. 

Kristin Krüger was employed as Office Manager and as Research Associate. She monitored and supported the institute’s scientific work, organized BIGS events and worked on her own projects. Kristin studied German and sociology at the University of Rostock. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she continued her studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in the fields of sociology and political science, where she developed her interest in security policy. She wrote her master’s thesis on the independence process of violent non-state actors.

Nadine Lehnigk holds a diplom degree in public administration from the University of Potsdam. During her studies, she interned in Brussels and worked at the German Bundestag, as well as in several positions in the Brandenburg state government. She has been a Junior Research Fellow at BIGS from April 2010 till July 2011. Her first research project was the completion of a study for State of Brandenburg about security in public transportation. Her research interests include administrative reform as well as security networks and communications processes in public administration.

Dr. Christopher Paun was a Senior Research Fellow at BIGS in Potsdam from December 2016 to February 2018. His main research interest is cooperation for the provision of security, including international, inter-agency and public-private cooperation. In his PhD thesis he analyzed law enforcement cooperation by comparing several global public-private partnerships against intellectual property crimes, for example involving Interpol, the World Customs Organization and the World Health Organization. He completed his doctoral research at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), after having studied International Relations, Political Science and Cultural Studies in Frankfurt (Oder), Potsdam, Berlin and Washington D.C.

Dr. Paun has several years of experience in academia, journalism and politics. For example, he has been working as a freelance journalist for a London-based legal publisher, analyzing and ranking law firms in multiple countries and legal areas. Before that, he worked in the German parliament, where he provided research and advice on foreign and security policy for a Member of Parliament.

Anna C. Peters worked as junior research fellow at BIGS and was part of the German-Indian research project “SenSE4Metro – increasing safety in subways and subway stations in emergency situations or during disasters”. Within “BERKoS – building European consortia for security research” she analysed the difficulties of managing EU research consortia and seeked to derive strategies for the successful management of them. Prior to this, she was involved in the research project “RiskViz – Providing a risk situation picture of industrial IT security in Germany".

Anna completed a Bachelor’s degree in International Business in Cologne and the Philippines. After working for McKinsey & Co., she completed a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Potsdam as well as a Master’s degree in International Climate Policy and Sustainable Development at the University of Leeds. At the University of Leeds she worked, among others, on climate change-induced natural disasters and adaptation to climate change in developing and emerging countries. Her research interests include disaster risk reduction and the climate-security nexus.

Dr. Svenja Post was a Senior Research Fellow at BIGS from September 2013 to May 2016, where she was working on comprehensive crisis management issues and emerging security challenges. Svenja holds a graduate degree in political science, law, and peace and conflict studies from the Philipps University in Marburg. She received a doctorate from the Helmut Schmidt University of the Federal Armed Forces in Hamburg. In her doctoral thesis, Svenja looked at the challenges comprehensive crisis management poses for the European Union and its member states. She also was a guest researcher at the German Council on Foreign Relations and DAAD Research Fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC. Before her doctorate studies, she assisted the European and Transatlantic Security Programme of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Svenja also is an active member of Women In International Security Germany (

Alexander Ritzmann has been working for almost 20 years in the fields of democracy promotion and prevention of violent extremism. From 2017 to 2020, he was Senior Research Fellow at the Brandenburg Institute for Society and Security (BIGS), where he headed, among other things, the project “Integration at Eye Level", which was funded by the federal “Living Democracy" programme and focused on a discourse of values among and with refugees. At the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), he co-constructs and moderates the “International Forum for Expert Exchange on Countering Islamist Extremism" (InFoEx). He advises the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Berlin in particular on questions of Internet regulation (e.g. NetzDG) and on strategies against extremist/terrorist actors and content online. From 2015 to 2020 Alexander Ritzmann was a member of the Steering Committee of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) of the European Commission (DG HOME) and co-chair of its Working Group on Communication and Narratives. As a Non-Resident Fellow, he will continue to be available to the BIGS for questions in the field of terrorism, radicalisation and extremism.

Dr. Dennis Schmidt-Bordemann was a Senior Research Fellow at BIGS from April to December 2014. He studied Medieval and Modern History, Political Science and Journalism at the University of Leipzig. In 2011 he earned his PhD with a Study on “Anxiety and Trust as Parameter of Politics. The Precedent of American Anticommunism, 1945-1952". Dennis Schmidt-Bordemann worked several years in German parliamentary and party organizations and is well versed in matters of political process, political communication and campaigning. At the BIGS he worked for the WISIND project, designing an economic survey for the security industry.

Therese Skrzypietz was a Research Fellow at BIGS since January 2011 and was particularly concerned with the use of modern techniques in the airspace in support of civil security. Since January 2012, she analyzed the security industry for the security indicator project and measured the level of security provision generated by the security industry in form of goods and services. Therese studied business administration at the University of Münster. After completing her master’s degree in September 2009, she was a Research Fellow at the Institute and Seminar for Transport Economics at the University of Cologne and worked on research projects in the area of transport economics and was teaching students.

Dr. Thorsten Wetzling was a Senior Research Fellow at BIGS from September 2013 until December 2015. He worked on the collaborative research project fit4sec, the competence center for security and technology, funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education. Within the project, Thorsten was focusing on capacity building for research and science on civil security. Before coming to Potsdam in September 2013, Thorsten worked as Senior Fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Advisor for the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) on various projects related to data privacy in transatlantic relations, civil-military affairs and security sector governance in Morocco and Tunisia. From 2009 until 2011, Thorsten was a Transatlantic Post-Doctoral Fellow for International Relations and Security (TAPIR) working at the French Institute for International Relations (ifri) in Paris, the RAND Corporation in Arlington, VA. and the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Axel Woeller studied law and politics in Marburg, Windhoek and Oxford. He holds a PhD from Leipzig University. Since his studies he focused on European and International law as well as International security issues and terrorism. Since 2007 he works for members of the German federal parliament as an Executive Assistant and Policy Advisor. At BIGS he was a Senior Research Felllow from January till August 2013 where he was focusing especially on legal and budget aspects of civil security.

Past Visiting Fellows

Tristen Müller

Dr. Ron A. Porter

Soumitra Singh

Jonathan Vrijma