Alex Dehgan is the CEO and co-founder of Conservation X Labs. Dr. Dehgan recently served as the Chief Scientist at USAID, with rank of Assistant Administrator, and co-founded the Global Development Lab. He is also the Chanler Innovator at Duke University and served as Duke’s inaugural David Rubenstein Fellow. 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, where he used science & conservation as a diplomatic tool for engagement with countries in the Islamic world, including Iran. As head of the Wildlife Conservation Society Afghanistan Program, Alex helped create Afghanistan’s first national park. Dr. Dehgan holds a Ph.D and M.Sc. from The University of Chicago’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology, where he focused on understanding and predicting extinction in animals with complex behaviors. Alex also holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings, and a B.S. from Duke University.
He is the author of The Snow Leopard Project and Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation (The Hatchett Group, 2019).
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
LEAD, CONSERVATION PRODUCT ENGINEERING
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.
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.
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).
Tina Kuklenski-Miller is the Operations Director responsible for Conservation X Labs finance and administration activities. She has over 25 years domestic and international executive non-profit experience, including living in Kenya and Nigeria. She co-founded 3 organizations, including Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA), and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Hawaii Chapter. She is an active member of her community. She received the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist (2014), during her 8 years as Assistant Scout Leader and Committee member for Boy Scout Troop 149 she completed two 50 mile one day hikes and hiked with a team of scouts through Philmont Scout Ranch. She served 10 years as an advisor to the Arlington County School Board, earning her the 2018 Arlington School Board Honored Citizens Award. She also enjoys raising silk worms and experimenting with natural dyes and fibers. She has a BS degree from the University of Kansas and a MS degree from Hawaii Pacific University.
Research scientist - fluidic systems
Cifeng pursued his Ph.D in the Mechanical Engineering Department of University of Washington. His research focused on using integrated microfluidic platform for real-time cell/droplet manipulation and study. After graduation, he joined San Jose based invitro diagnostic instrument start up for the research and developing of next generation droplet digital PCR system, utilizing his expertise in droplet microfluidics and high-performance thermal control inside microfluidic device. He received his PhD from the University of Washington in 2017 and his bachelor’s degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from Tsinghua University in 2011.
Molecular Lab Manager
Misa Winters has a strong background in the development and optimization of DNA assays for ancient, low-template or degraded samples for the purpose of species identification, population genetics and sample origin. Most projects have used the approach of analyzing wildlife genetics to inform the habits and movements of human counterparts across time and space to inform anthropological or conservation based questions. After being a member of the UW Center for Conservation Biology for 5 years, she has a deep appreciation for the many urgent conservation challenges facing our world, and is a proud contributor to the tracking of poached African elephant ivory seizures. Misa received an MS in Biology and BS in Biotechnology from Washington State University.
Open Innovation program fellow
Devin Nieusma is an Open Innovation Program Fellow at Conservation X Labs. As a student, she participated in an innovation fellowship and was a writing consultant for science and engineering students. Devin has experience in public, private, and non-profit sectors, working for a city planning department, environmental policy non-profit, and an urban design predictive analytics startup called State of Place. At State of Place, she managed a partnership with the City of Durham and worked with local governments to understand their needs and communicate the value of data analytics. She is passionate about leveraging partnerships, data, and innovation towards conservation and sustainability. She graduated from Duke University in 2019.