Alex Dehgan is the co-founder of the startup Conservation X Labs. He is also a senior visiting fellow at Duke University, and is currently writing a book about his adventures helping create the first national park in Afghanistan, called the Snow Leopard Startup.
Alex has previously served as Chief Scientist for USAID where he conceptualized, created, and helped launch the US Global Development Lab, helped create Afghanistan's first national park as co-founder and head of the WCS Afghanistan Program, helped rebuild science in Iraq, and lived in a tent for 2.5 years in Madagascar’s rainforests studying extinction in lemurs. 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, inter-species heart transplants, links between infectious diseases and forest fragmentation, and addressing development challenges around the world. He has traveled to more than 80 countries on six continents, and is waiting to collect enough frequent flyer miles to Antarctica.
In the pursuit of conservation and science, Alex has collected a wide variety of tropical diseases including five bouts of malaria, including barely surviving cerebral malaria in a tent in the middle of the Malagasy rainforest, shistosomiasis, giardia, bacterial and amoebic dysentery, and various parasites infesting and pupating on his skin. During an episode of malaria which occurred in Chicago, months after he had returned to the US, Alex was the featured tropical medicine teaching patient at the University of Chicago. Alex proudly displays a photo of the malaria parasites bursting his red blood cells.
Of the international awards and recognitions he has won, he is most proud of beating out 10,000 applicants to be one of 10 finalists as an assistant to the Most Interesting Man in the World.