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Dr Imogen Parsons
(Acting) Director, Terrorism and Conflict / Senior Research Fellow
Dr Imogen Parsons is Senior Research Fellow and (Acting) Director of the Terrorism and Conflict group, on secondment from the UK civil service. She brings around twenty years of experience of working in and on conflict, including Afghanistan, Libya, DRC and Sahel, and is focussing her current research on international intervention in conflict and fragile states as well as supporting the group’s work on countering violent extremism.
Prior to joining RUSI, she was Head of the Joint Sahel Department, a fully integrated FCO/DFID Department overseeing the UK’s diplomatic and development engagement across Sahel. Previously she led DFID’s humanitarian research and innovation team including establishing new programmes on conflict and protection, protracted displacement, innovation in conflict zones and resilience to natural disasters, working in partnership with the World Bank, Global Challenges Canada, UK Research Councils and others. From 2013-15 she led DFID’s Africa humanitarian and conflict unit, overseeing the UK’s responses to crises across the continent including Mali, the Central African Republic, Burundi and the regional humanitarian response to the South Sudan crisis, as well as setting up the first long-term resilience programmes in Sahel. She also led lessons work on Afghanistan in the UK Stabilisation Unit in 2010, and served in the Ministry of Defence including stints in Kabul in 2006-7 as an adviser to General the Lord Richards of Herstmonceux (then Commander ISAF), and in 2009 in the private office of General the Lord Houghton of Richmond (then Vice Chief of the Defence Staff). She also took a previous career break in 2011-13 to get back into the field, leading emergency responses for Save the Children including in Libya, DRC and the Horn of Africa.
She holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics, focussed on Conflict and State Building in Angola. While researching her PhD she carried out extensive fieldwork and published her findings on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants, return of displaced people and community reintegration and reconciliation in the immediate post-war Angola. She also has a Masters degree in Development Studies from SOAS, and studied modern languages at Cambridge.