Sara Hellmüller joined swisspeace in December 2009. She works as a senior researcher and senior program officer in the Mediation program. She is also the regional focal point for Syria and in charge of the annual CAS course on National Dialogue and Peace Mediation. Sara holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Basel. Her doctoral research focused on how the interaction between local and international peacebuilding actors in DR Congo influences the effectiveness of their programs. In 2013, she was a visiting scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University in New York and an affiliate doctoral student at the University of Bunia in Ituri (DR Congo). Before joining swisspeace, she worked with the United Nations Development Program in eastern DR Congo, the Swiss Embassy in Nigeria and with local NGOs in Mongolia and South Africa. She holds a first MA in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva and a second MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Boston. Sara has a certificate in mediation from Mediation Works Incorporated in Boston.