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03 January 2020

Living Abroad - Spotlight on: Ukraine

Iryna Iarema (MA International Peace & Security, 2016) is from Ukraine. She is an expert in environmental policy as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security and risk mitigation.

An image of a church in Ukraine

[This article is from the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of InTouch, your alumni magazine]

Having earned her BSc and MSc in natural sciences at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Iryna began her career at Ukraine’s Ministry of Environment and later joined the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. ‘I soon understood that, to advance in my career, I needed knowledge in international studies, law or politics. That’s when I decided to go to King’s.’

Iryna specialised in international law and conflict; CBRN terrorism; and the science and security of nuclear and biological weapons. After graduating, she moved to the US for a nuclear security research internship at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, before returning to Kyiv to join the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine. Iryna is now in her dream job, working for the United Nations on its CBRN programme.

A nuclear past

Ukraine is known for its nuclear history. In 1986, while under rule of the Soviet Union, it was the location of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Iryna told us, ‘Ukraine has never given up nuclear energy, even after the Chernobyl disaster. This is partly because people saw the reason for the tragedy as the regime rather than nuclear energy itself. The disaster rightfully provoked international attention to the importance of ensuring the safe and secure operation of nuclear installations. It also helped develop a policy of transparency – something I started to explore at King’s. With the official handover to the Ukrainian authorities of the New Safe Confinement structure, which shields the destroyed reactor of the Chernobyl power plant, Ukraine can start cleanup works that were not possible before. It is also symbolic that the construction project in Chernobyl is the largest-ever international cooperation in the field of nuclear safety. Today, Chernobyl is also a nature reserve, solar farm and site for prospective nuclear waste storage.’

Iryna attended a local alumni meet up
Iryna attended a local alumni meet up

Connect locally

King's alumni groups can be found around the world. Connect with local alumni via our International groups page.

Iryna recently attended the first King’s alumni event in Ukraine. ‘I was happy to take part in our first event. The alumni community consists of bright and friendly individuals, who work in completely different fields: business, politics, education, etc. Finding true friends, and like minds for a joint initiative, or just getting relief after a busy working day are reasons for joining a local alumni group. And, as we say, “Once King’s – Forever King’s!”.’

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