Meet the Team

Shield is run by a dedicated team of volunteers:


Ashley Ryan – Founder and Manager
Ashley, an undergraduate on the War Studies BA programme at King’s College London, founded the Shield blog. A mature student, she is transitioning her career into the defence field. Her research interests include military history, defence and security. She was awarded Third (Equal) Prize in RUSI’s 2016 Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize competition.

Ethan Hermanson – Managing Editor
Ethan is an American international student working towards a War Studies BA at King’s College London. Ethan was one of Shield’s first editors, acting in that role for a year before being promoted to his current position as Managing Editor. He is particularly interested in counter-insurgency, the evolution of small-unit tactics, and illustrating the human cost of war. On graduating, Ethan hopes to pursue a career as a combat correspondent; when not doing work for Shield, he can be found skulking near protests, police actions, and other disturbances with his camera.


Conor Hannigan – Editor
Conor is an International Relations MA candidate at King’s College London with an interest in questions of security, nationalism and identity. Conor previously received a BA (Hons) in Political Studies and Economics from Queen’s University in Canada. His past research has focused on debates surrounding ethnic and cultural identity in America during the First World War and the influence of these factors on foreign policy decisions, as well as English national identity in the context of Brexit. He has presented findings from this research at domestic and international conferences. Currently, he is interested in the political psychology of state identity.

Miriam Aitken – Editor
Miriam is an undergraduate student working towards a BA in International Relations at King’s College London. She has been actively involved in the European Youth Parliament for several years and has participated in and organised various conferences on a regional, national and international level. Prior to King’s, she studied in Switzerland and Canada and she is currently an exchange student at Hong Kong University. Her research interests include critical security studies, gender and identity politics.


Mathilde Aupetit – Staff Writer
Mathilde is an undergraduate student in the department of War Studies at King’s College London (KCL). She is currently studying in Tokyo as an exchange student. Prior to studying International Relations at KCL, she studied in Paris. Her main interests include learning languages and discovering new cultures, as well as studying the politics and philosophies of Asia. She is committed to a transnational understanding of security and defence, as well as the impact of these topics on people in their everyday lives.

Constantin Ghika – Staff Writer
Constantin is an undergraduate student in the department of War Studies at King’s College London. The multicultural environment in which he grew up (his mother is French and his father is Romanian), as well as his family’s military background, gave him a passion for international defence and security issues. His favourite topics are insurgency, counter-insurgency, terrorism, nuclear weapons, military strategy and military history, among others. In his free time, Constantin enjoys reading, playing video games and doing sports.

Habiba Paracha – Staff Writer
Habiba is a British-American Pakistani student on the International Relations BA programme at King’s College London. Her research interests include international migration and Islamist extremist terrorism. She also finds the history of South-East Asia and the Middle East thought-provoking. Although she has lived in London for most of her life, her multicultural background allows her a breadth of insight into non-Western perspectives on defence and security issues. Outside of her studies, Habiba is an avid yogi and gym-goer.

Rafaela Piyioti
Rafaela is an undergraduate on the War Studies and Philosophy BA programme at King’s College London. Rafaela was part of her high school’s newspaper editorial team, where she wrote about ancient Greek history and current political events in Cyprus and Greece. As a child, she remembers her mother working in the university of Cyprus and writing about the Cyprus Issue. Rafaela has inherited her mother’s passion regarding security and defence, and she explores this interest through the War Studies element of her degree. Her Philosophy modules are an opportunity for her to combine her love for the arts with security studies. In the future, Rafaela would like to undertake a law conversion degree, with an ultimate view to working in a field where she can focus on the abolition of human trafficking. In her free time, Rafaela loves to travel and learn about new cultures.

Drishti Suri
Drishti is an aspiring barrister and human rights activist and is currently pursuing a BA in International Relations at the War Studies department of King’s College London. Her interest lies in analysing security issues through a legal and political prism. She enjoys reading about insurgency, counter-insurgency, the political history of the Middle East and North Africa, and refugee crises. Drishti particularly enjoys studying the link between nationalism and security issues and maintains a special focus on the Kashmir conflict and issues of nationalism in India in her work. Apart from matters of politics and law, she is interested in learning new languages and is currently learning Arabic.

Olivia Adams – Staff Writer
Olivia has recently completed her undergraduate degree in International Relations at King’s College London, specialising in the Middle East. Her research interests include counterterrorism, insurgency and Islamist extremism. Olivia is particularly interested in how matters of security and defence interact with gender, and her undergraduate dissertation focused on the multifaceted role of female suicide bombers within Al-Qa’ida in Iraq. Having lived and studied in Australia for a number of years, Olivia is also intrigued by matters of Australian defence and security policy, particularly with regard to refugees and asylum seekers. In her free time, Olivia is learning Arabic in the hope of travelling and learning more about Middle Eastern cultures and traditions.

Pedro Lagonegro – Staff Writer
Pedro is a postgraduate student in the Intelligence and International Security MA programme at King’s College London (KCL), in the War Studies department. His ongoing dissertation research focuses on assessing educationally-based soft-power strategies to counter prejudice and extremism within the Israel-Palestine conflict. Pedro has six years’ experience in the private sector and eight years within the public sector, both academically and professionally. He currently works as Project Manager for KCL’s School of Security Studies. His writing experience includes summary reports on sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council, concept papers for different NGOs, and an academic piece published by the King’s Centre for Strategic Communications blog. Pedro holds a bachelor’s in Business Administration and a minor in Political Science from the University of North Texas. He also holds an MBA from the University of Geneva, where he specialised in the management of international organisations and non-profit institutions.

Hyoin (Ellen) Rhee – Staff Writer
Hyoin Rhee, who also goes by the name of Ellen, is a Korean undergraduate studying towards a War Studies BA at King’s College London. After having studied in both South Korea and the United States, she wanted to move to London to experience new things, and is absolutely loving the city. Ellen has always been interested in interactions between individuals and bigger communities, such as societies and nations. Her other research interests include migration, refugee crises, counter-insurgency, defence, and the security situation in the Korean peninsula. In her free time, Ellen likes to play the piano and read foreign travel advice. Last, but by no means least, she loves hedgehogs.

Aylin Matlé – Staff Writer
Aylin, who is from Germany, is currently working towards a PhD on the role of the US in NATO during the Obama presidency. In addition, she is a research assistant at the division of Political Dialogue and Analysis at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Berlin. Before starting her PhD, Aylin worked as an academic assistant at the Chair of International Relations and European Politics at Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg. In that capacity, she taught courses on transatlantic relations and international organisations. Prior to that position, she completed an MA in War Studies at King’s College London in 2014. Aylin is a member of Germany and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Working Group of Young Foreign Policy Experts.

Archie Brown
Archie is reading History at King’s College London. His research interests are migration, the relationship between gender and war, and the impacts of globalisation on security discourses. Archie is fascinated by the modern history of South and South-East Asia, and how this has shaped state roles in contemporary security discourses. Outside security, he is particularly interested in the debate around the concept of ‘New Wars’. Archie’s intended career path is that of either security or diplomacy, with a particular focus on China. Outside his studies, he enjoys taking trips and exploring London through museums and galleries.

Aahan Upadhyaya
Aahan is a second-year undergraduate pursing a degree in International Relations. As a student from India, he is dedicated to the exchange of ideas on different platforms to gain new perspectives. His research interests include counterterrorism, counter-insurgency and military ethics. An avid debater, he believes that (due to the rise of counterterrorism legislation), citizens’ privacy is being encroached upon. As an aspiring barrister, he wishes to take action to protect privacy and human rights. Aahan is an active member of several student-led societies, as well as being a regular delegate in Model UN conferences across the UK. Apart from his academic interests, he is a football fanatic and enjoys boxing. You can find Aahan, a pop-culturist, bingeing on TV series at unusual hours.