Cheikh Mbow holds academic degrees from Cheikh Anta Diop University and University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He has been on the academic and research faculty at Cheikh Anta Diop University and Michigan State University. He has worked as a Senior Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and a Member of the Science Committee of Future Earth. Cheikh is a regional expert on disturbances of savanna vegetative systems, particularly the impact of bush fires and other land cover changes in rural areas. He has experience with above-ground in situ carbon stock assessments, vegetation inventory the use for carbon models, and the monitoring of vegetative communities.
Margaret Ann Chapman, MBA, MA is the Director of Finance and Administration. She oversees the daily operations and financial health and planning of START. Prior to this position, Margaret was the Institute Administrator and Fiscal Manager for the George Washington University Cancer Institute and various positions at the Pew Charitable Trusts. She has her Masters in Business Administration and Masters in European and Eurasian Studies from the George Washington University. In addition to her work at START, Margaret serves as the Treasurer for Triage Cancer and the immediate past president of the board of directors for Street Sense, a Washington, DC, non-profit helping create economic opportunities for the district’s homeless population.
Mary Thompson-Hall joined START in 2015 as a program specialist working primarily on the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project, part of the broader Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in geography from the University of South Carolina where her research focused on intersections of conservation and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, Mary worked with World Bank and African Development Bank experts on participatory adaptation fieldwork for the Zambian Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), and also co-authored a USAID commissioned report on gender and climate change adaptation. Most recently, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Basque Center for Climate Change (BC3) in Bilbao, Spain on topics relating to agricultural biodiversity and climate change adaptation.
Mariama joined START in June 2018 as Program Specialist leading a project on energy transformations for strengthening capacities for addressing complex sustainability challenges in West Africa. She previously worked for the Directorate of Green Financings and Partnerships in the Senegalese Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Prior to that, she worked as post-doctoral researcher at the Institut des Sciences de l’Environnement, Université Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (UCAD), Senegal, where she coordinated the activities of the research unit. She was also an activity leader in the project One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA) Senegal for which she supervised the training of local communities in surveillance, diagnosis, and biosafety and biosecurity. She holds a PhD in Climate Change and Biodiversity from WASCAL Graduate Research Program of Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Clay joined START in June 2018 as Administrative Assistant. Prior to this position, Clay was the Director of the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program at A Wider Circle, a non-profit program chiefly responsible for redistributing furniture donations to families experiencing poverty. He holds a BA in Public Policy from The College of William & Mary.
Hassan Virji has been involved with START since its inception in 1992, and served as START’s Executive Director from 2008 to 2016.
Prior to joining START, in his role as Executive Secretary of the US Inter-agency Subcommittee on Global Change Research he contributed to set up the US Global Change Research Program during early 1990s. Before then, he was Deputy Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and Associate Director of the Climate Dynamics Program of the US National Science Foundation.
Hassan is a member of the Governing Boards of the International Centers of excellence located at CSIR/South Africa and the Academia Sinica/Taipei, UK-based Education, Learning, and Research for Humanitarian Assistance, the Civilian Research and Development Foundation of USA and the Manila Observatory located at Ateneo de Manila University. He is a permanent member of the National Research Council of the US National Academies.
He serves on the editorial boards of “Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability”, “Advances in Climate Change Research”, and “Climate, Disasters, and Development”.
Hassan is a graduate of the Universities of Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Wisconsin in Madison.