UCL Institute of the Americas


Verena Braehler

PhD Security and Human Rights, 2010-2014

Verena Braehler

My PhD research focused on security, human rights and organised crime in Rio de Janeiro. I stayed a whole year in Brazil doing field research. I did my own survey in six different neighbourhoods, interviewed policemen, favela residents and drug traffickers, and joined a movement for young urban leaders. It was an incredibly adventurous and rewarding time (you can read my thesis here).

Before I realised three and a half incredible years had flown by and it was time to submit my thesis. Throughout all these years I received great support both from my supervisor Dr Par Engstrom and from the other staff members and UCL in general. It was also due to this support that we were able to set up the UCL Americas Research Network.

After I submitted my thesis I moved to Vienna to do a four-month internship at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), working on juvenile justice and violence against children. I had been applying for the internship for several years and was very relieved when it turned out to be even better than what I had anticipated.

Finding a proper full-time job was not easy but after a couple of months I found a job as a Research Manager at the British Equality and Human Rights Commission. My job is very challenging and every day I am using the skills I acquired during my studies at UCL.

I would definitely recommend anyone with a passion for Latin America to pursue a postgraduate degree at the Institute of the Americas. The teaching is among the best in the world, the professors are very friendly and the atmosphere is very personal due to the overall small number of students.

Please visit our Researching Security website if you are interested in doing research on security, violence and organised crime in Latin America.