Alex Dehgan


Alex Dehgan is the CEO and co-founder of Conservation X Labs, a startup for tech innovation for conservation and development.  Dr. Dehgan recently served as the Chief Scientist at USAID, with rank of Assistant Administrator, and founded the Global Development Lab.  Prior to USAID, Alex worked in multiple positions within the Office of the Secretary, and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, at the Dept. of State.  At State, Alex developed political and science diplomacy strategies towards addressing our most challenging foreign policy issues in Iraq, Egypt, and the greater Islamic world, including engagement with Iran under the Obama Administration with Amb. Dennis Ross.  As head of the Wildlife Conservation Society Afghanistan Program, Alex helped create Afghanistan’s first national park.

He is the author of The Snow Leopard Project and Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation (The Hatchett Group, 2019).


Paul Bunje


Paul Bunje

Paul Bunje is the co-founder of Conservation X Labs. He brings substantial expertise in technology, conservation, science policy, and broad public engagement to the mission of transforming conservation through innovation.  Paul is also Chief Scientist and Principal at the XPRIZE Foundation. Paul was the founding Executive Director of the UCLA Center for Climate Change Solutions and the founding Managing Director of the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability. Dr. Bunje is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans, and serves as an advisor and board member to several environmental organizations. In 2013, the American Association for the Advancement of Science selected Paul as one of its “40 at 40” fellows, to recognize individuals who have made exemplary dedication to applying science to serve society.




Shah Selbe

Shah Selbe is the Chief Technology Officer for Conservation X Labs, and oversees technology development.  He is an engineer, conservation technologist, and technology expert working to identify and implement innovative approaches to conservation. This work began at Stanford University in 2009 and he has since worked with a number of influential nonprofits and government organizations worldwide (Center for Ocean Solutions, Monterey Bay Aquarium, New England Aquarium, National Geographic Society, Waitt Institute, Pew Environment Group, and many more). This work, now called Conservify, was honored as 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalist, 2011 Savannah Ocean Exchange Gulfstream Navigator Finalist, 2011 Katerva Award Nominee, and most recently, this work resulted in him being named a National Geographic 2013 Emerging Explorer.


Barbara Martinez

Open innovation director

Barbara Martinez is the Open Innovation Director for Conservation X Labs. She leads challenges and Make for the Planet competitions, including the Blue Economy Challenge to re-engineer aquaculture.  She was as a science policy fellow in the Office of the Science Advisor and the Office of Research and Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she led the creation of a policy to streamline the implementation of citizen science projects for federal scientists. Previously, Barbara spent much of her time in a laboratory or remote field sites studying endocrine disruption in prairie voles, seed dispersal by lemurs, seed dispersal by hornbills and monkeys, and songbird behavior. Barbara has her PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota with a minor in Development Studies and Social Change and a BS in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. 


David baisch

Molecular innovations director


David Baisch’s expertise is in DNA sequencing technologies, DNA barcoding, marine population genetics, biological oceanography, and field sampling design. David has spent the last ten years analyzing mitochondrial DNA sequences in phylogenetic analyses on Atlantic salmonids, collecting catch composition information and DNA samples while working on commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea and Northern Pacific Ocean, working in regulatory biology in the Detroit District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, leading field studies in marine systems in Canadian near-shore ecosystems, and teaching as a professor on conservation biology in the Pacific Northwest. David received his MS in Biology-Population Genetics and his BS in Biology-Aquatic Sciences with a minor in Chemistry from Grand Valley State University.   


Cassie Ann Hoffman

Social Scientist & Field Director

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Cassie Hoffman is currently the Platform Manager of the Digital Makerspace and manages the development and community development around the Digital Makerspace, supports market research for conservation innovations, and aids company operations and field programming. She is a social scientist with expertise in market mechanisms for conservation, community development, and social marketing and behavior change. She has field experience promoting alternative financing mechanisms for conservation in the Nevado de Colima National Park in Mexico and social marketing programs promoting water and energy conservation in Jordan. She is an advanced Spanish speaker and holds a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University, with a focus in environmental economics and policy, and a certificate in International Development Policy.


Tom Quigley

Community Manager


As the Community Manager for the Digital Makerspace, Tom brings to the team a unique blend of digital marketing, conservation fieldwork, project management, and questionable facial hair. Tom’s conservation work has taken him from Australia to Madagascar to the Cayman Islands, working in marsupial rehabilitation, coral reef research, and ocean science education (though never at the same time). In 2015 he became Employee #2 at Real Vision, a video-on-demand startup for investing and finance, and he managed operations, analytics, and marketing campaigns generating millions in revenue. An avid outdoor sport enthusiast and explorer, his proudest moments include hitchhiking 4,000+ km through Australia and holding his breath for 5:26 while freediving. Tom holds a BS in Biology from Emory University.


Chad Gallinat

Senior Program Manager


Chad Gallinat is the Senior Program Manager responsible for Conservation X Lab’s Cooling Grand Challenge. He has a PhD in Materials Engineering and 9 years of experience working as both a research scientist advancing important clean energy technologies as well as an energy policy advisor managing and coordinating global energy efficiency policy activities between government officials, industry partners, and other stakeholders. Before joining CX Labs he managed a range of multilateral and bilateral energy efficiency efforts designed to engage the public- and private-sectors, including the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Advanced Cooling and Global Lighting Challenges. Chad has experience in the private sector and with a national laboratory performing fundamental scientific research and analysis improving the energy efficiency of a variety of advanced functional materials. Chad is passionate about improving people’s lives by accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies that are climate friendly and economically viable.


Hal Holmes



Although his work was originally related to applications in medicine, Hal Holmes has found the challenges facing conservation to be exceedingly more urgent, impactful, and underserved. As a PhD student, Hal developed microfluidic and microelectromechanical systems for DNA analysis. His work now focuses on applying his engineering background and experience towards solutions for conservation. At Conservation X Labs, Hal identifies and develops technologies from academia and industry that can be translated to meet pressing conservation problems. Hal was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2012, an NDSEG Fellow in 2014, and a Schmidt Science Fellow in 2018. He received his PhD from the University of Washington in 2018 and his Bachelor's degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from Michigan Technological University in 2013.


Jay Sullivan

Open Innovation Research Fellow


Jay Sullivan is the Open Innovation Research Fellow at Conservation X Labs where he researches critical conservation and development problems and helps develop insight to build corresponding open innovation competitions, challenges, and prizes.  Previously, he completed a Fulbright scholarship in Malaysia, interned in the Obama White House’s Office of Social Innovation, and worked on access to education in Uganda.  As a student, he co-founded the You Don’t Say? Campaign, a global social media campaign on language and inclusion.  Jay also serves as a mentor for Clinton Global Initiative University.  He graduated from Duke University in 2016.



Sam Kelly

Conservation Technology Program Manager


Sam Kelly is the Conservation Technology Program Manager at Conservation X Labs. He is a mechanical engineering graduate from Duke University and focuses on identifying and developing new technology opportunities with impacts in conservation. During his time at Duke, Sam founded Conservation Tech – a student organization which develops conservation technology and hosts the annual Blueprint ideathon. As an engineer, Sam has expertise in physical, electronic and hardware design for conservation technology projects spanning a marine animal tag to a variety of autonomous vehicle platforms (under, on, and above water).