ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Alex Dehgan has worked on wildlife conservation and foreign policy in settings as diverse as Saddam Hussein's poolhouse in Iraq while under fire, in the western reaches of the Himalayans in post-conflict Afghanistan, the leech and predator-filled rainforests of southeastern Madagascar, Central & South America, the chaos of the collapsing halls of the Kremlin, former Soviet weapons labs in Central Asia, and the conservative and staid halls of the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History. As a scientist, he has had the opportunity to work on an equally diversity of subjects ranging from predicting species extinction in lemurs, interspecies heart transplants, links between infectious diseases and forest fragmentation, and addressing development challenges around the world. He is now using his scientific acumen to rebuild ecosystems destroyed by man, and human societies destroyed by politics and war.
Alex Dehgan is currently the CEO & co-founder of Conservation X Labs, an innovation and technology startup focused on conservation, where he is working to transform conservation. Under Alex’s leadership, Conservation X Labs has developed new technologies, launched the first set of Grand Challenges for Conservation on aquaculture, water, cooling technology, and fungal pathogens, developed the first mass collaboration & engineering platform for new sustainability solutions, and ran the first conservation technology accelerator. Alex also serves as the Chanler Innovator at Duke University where he teaches technology innovation for addressing the sustainable development goals.
Dr. Alex Dehgan recently served as the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, with rank of Assistant Administrator, founded and headed the Office of Science and Technology, and created the vision for and helped launch the Global Development Lab, the Agency’s DARPA for Development. As the Agency’s first chief scientist in two decades, Dr. Dehgan implemented President Obama’s promise to restore science and technology to its rightful place within USAID. Alex was the architect of a number of new Agency institutions, including the Grand Challenges for Development program, Agency partnerships with universities (HESN) and federal science agencies (PEER), the independent office of science and technology (OST), the position of the Agency geographer and the GeoCenter, and data for development programs, and the Global Development Lab. In less than four years, Alex built OST from scratch to an 80-person office, a $100 M dollar research program, and leveraged or raised $500 million dollars from other donors and partners. Alex was also part of the founding team for the Agency’s Policy, Planning, and Learning Bureau (PPL). Alex rebuilt technical capabilities in the Agency by putting scientists, physicians, and engineers directly into USAID missions and technical bureaus, and led efforts for the Agency’s research policy and first ever scientific integrity policy.
Prior to coming to USAID, Alex worked in multiple positions at the Department of State, including the Policy Planning Staff, the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Science Adviser (STAS), and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. At State, Alex developed political and science diplomacy strategies towards addressing our most challenging foreign policy issues in Iran, Iraq, and the greater Islamic world, including helping initiating the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran through science diplomacy working with Amb. Dennis Ross, and serving as a liaison to the late Amb. Richard Holbrooke.
Alex Dehgan was the founding Afghanistan Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan Biodiversity Conservation Program. Through his leadership, WCS led efforts to create Afghanistan’s first national park, conducted the first comprehensive biological surveys of the country in 30 years, helped develop Afghanistan’s biodiversity conservation laws and policies, and curtailed illegal wildlife trade on US and ISAF military bases.
Dr. Dehgan holds a Ph.D and M.Sc. from The University of Chicago’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology, where he focused on extinction and adaptation of 12 lemur species during environmental change in tropical forests in Madagascar. He also holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings, and a B.S. from Duke University. He was chosen as an “Icon of Science” by Seed Magazine in 2005, received the World Technology Award for Policy in 2011, and has been recognized through multiple awards from the Departments of State and Defense, and USAID. In 2013, AAAS selected Alex as one of its 40@40 fellows out of 2,600 AAAS Science Policy Fellows as “an individual who has made exemplary dedication to applying science to serve society, was creative, innovative, and collaborative problem solvers in addressing global challenges, and was an uncommon ambassador for the role of science and technology.”