Jon Padgham joined START in 2008, and has been START’S Executive Director since 2020. At START, Jon has led or co-led several science capacity development projects in Africa and Asia that engaged early career researchers. His work helped strengthen analytical skills for applying climate model projections to adaptation decision making and helped advance understanding of climate change adaptation in drylands and of urban food systems. His experience in capacity development includes scientific writing, science communication across disciplines, persuasive communications of science to policy and other stakeholder communities, research and assessment methods, building links to global science assessments, and building mentorship bridges between junior and senior academics. Prior to joining START, Jon worked at the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development on climate change adaptation initiatives. He holds a PhD in Soil Science from Cornell University in the US.
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 as a Program Specialist in June 2018, where she is leading the Promoting Gains in Renewable Energy – West Africa (ProGREEN) project. She is coordinating and implementing project activities, and co-designing the capacity development and communication products. She develops and maintains collaborative relationships with potential partners in order to broaden START’s visibility and develop new programmatic opportunities in West Africa. She also works with other START initiatives as needed. Very passionate about environmental change, knowledge sharing, science-policy interface, and capacity development, she previously worked for the Senegalese Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development’s Directorate of Green Financings and Partnerships to improve the development of the green economy and create green jobs that empower youth and women under a Changing Climate. 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 has a PhD in Climate Change and Biodiversity from WASCAL Graduate Research Program of Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and a DEA in Crop Protection from the National School of Agriculture ENSA, Thies, Senegal.
Cheikh Mbow served as START’s Executive Director from 2016 to 2019. He 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.
Roland Fuchs led START’s work and activities until 2008. Prior to joining START he served as Professor of Geography. Roland Fuchs has held various positions within academia and international organizations. Prior to joining START he served as Professor of Geography and Department Chair at the University of Hawaii and later Vice-Rector of the United Nations University in Japan. He has also served as President of the International Geographical Union (IGU) and Secretary-General of the Pacific Science Association (PSA). During his career he has been associated with a number of institutions, including Moscow State University, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, National Taiwan University, Clark University, Ohio State University, and the East-West Center. His research has focused on urbanization and global change.