Meet our staff



Professor Tim Allen

Tim Allen is the Director of the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa. He is also a Professor of Development Anthropology and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.  Tim has training as a historian and development economist.

He works at the intersections of accountability, criminal justice, social healing, health care, international development and humanitarian assistance. He has conducted research on the Uganda / South Sudan border since the 1980s; and has also researched in many other African countries, including Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ghana. Much of his work has focussed on issues of humanitarian crisis, including mass forced displacement, armed conflict and the ways in which populations manage in extreme circumstances

Tim joined the LSE in 1997.




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 Margaret Ainley

Post-Docotoral Researcher

Maggie is what some have called a reluctant academic.  Driven by an inordinate sense of purpose to better understand the nature of leadership and governance on the African continent and in her home country Kenya, she recently undertook her PhD studies in International Relations at the London School of Economics.  Her thesis; ‘A Re-Imagining of the State in Africa’ sought to move away from the traditionally state-centred analysis of politics and state in Africa, focusing instead, on the role of ideas in shaping state formation processes on the same.

Prior to joining the LSE, Maggie worked as a research consultant at the Institute for Security Studies and thereafter, joined the Kenya Institute of Governance where she led a series of nationwide workshops on Collaborative Leadership and Dialogue in Kenya in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme.   This programme was aimed at supporting the transformation of Kenya’s leadership.  Bringing together key leaders in government, civil society and the public sector, it developed effective and holistic strategies for managing and resolving differences while building inclusive processes that advance governance.   
Maggie is an ESRC scholar and currently, a post-doctoral researcher at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa at the LSE.





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Natasha Koverola Commissiong
Grants Programme Officer and CPAID ODA Impact Officer

Natasha Koverola Commissiong is the Grants Programme Officer at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa. She holds an MSc in Anthropology and International Development from the London School of Economics.

Before joining FLCA, Natasha worked at Harvard University Center for African Studies and as a researcher on projects in Lesotho, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Brazil. Her expertise includes race, ethnicity and gender in Africa and the diaspora. She has also worked with high-risk youth in inner-city schools in Los Angeles. Natasha is fluent in Portuguese and is also an artist.

She joined LSE In October 2017.






Gemma Edom

Projects Associate

Gemma Edom is the Projects Associate at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa.

Gemma has recently completed a BSc in Social Anthropology at LSE, where her dissertation investigated moralised hierarchies in aid interventions across Uganda.

Prior to joining FLCA, Gemma held positions in fundraising and grants across the third and public sectors. Gemma has also worked as a researcher on projects in Zimbabwe, South Africa and in the UK. 

Gemma joined LSE in April 2018.





Martha Geiger
Manager, Centre for Public Authority and International Development and Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa

Martha Geiger is the CPAID and FLCA Centre Manager at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa in the Institute of Global Affairs (IGA) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Martha holds an MA in Geography and International Development from the University of Guelph in Canada.

Martha gained valuable research, project management, and leadership experience in Canada, UK, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Botswana. Prior to joining LSE, she worked as a senior research associate at the University of Bristol where she led a study in Ethiopia investigating socio-economic factors affecting animal owning communities. Martha has also held research-focused roles at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the World Wildlife Fund. 

Martha joined LSE in the summer of 2016. 




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Stephen Johnson
Programme Officer, Programme for African Leadership

Stephen Johnson is the Programme Officer for The Programme for African Leadership at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa, a networking and skills development initiative for LSE post graduate students from Africa.

He has previously worked as a research coordinator in Johannesburg, South Africa for a civil society organisation focused on researching and assessing government performance and governance quality across the continent. His research focused on defence, security and political instability. He has also worked for higher education institutions in South Africa and the United Kingdom including the University of Cape Town, King’s College and Birkbeck College.

Stephen joined LSE in November 2017.




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Yovanka Paquete Perdigao
Communications and Events Officer

Yovanka Paquete Perdigao is the Communications and Events Officer at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa. She holds an Msc  in Violence, Conflict and Development from SOAS, University of London.

Prior to joining the FLCA, Yovanka worked in programming, fundraising and communications at the Africa Centre, Africa Research Institute and the Royal African Society.  Interested in lusophone literature, migration issues and politics of memory, Yovanka has written a number of fiction and non-fiction pieces, which have been featured on the Guardian, Brittle Paper, AFREADA, etc. She regularly edits and translates literary works as a freelancer. Yovanka speaks French and Portuguese fluently.

Yovanka joined LSE in November 2017.





Syerramia Willoughby
Communications and Events Manager
Editor, Africa at LSE blog

Syerramia Willoughby is the Editor of the Africa at LSE blog and Communications and Events Manager at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa.

Prior to working at the FLCA, Syerramia worked for nine years as a radio journalist for BBC Africa and BBC Radio. 

Syerramia joined LSE in May 2011.






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Dr Gianluca Iazzolino
Postdoctoral researcher, A Tale of Two Valleys

Gianluca is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa. He works with Dr Laura Mann in an ESRC-funded project, A Tale of Two Green Valleys which uses a political economy approach to examine data value chains in agriculture in Kenya’s Rift Valley and California’s Central Valley. 

His main research interests are ICTs, digital finance and informal economy and focuses on the relationship of technological innovation and power dynamics, and processes of inclusion and exclusion.






CPAID researcher Grace Akello

 Dr Grace Akello

Dr Grace Akello is a Ruth Glass Memorial Fellow in the Department of International Development and FLCA Visiting Professor.

She will spend the next four months at LSE working as part of research team in the Centre for Public Authority and International Development.

Dr Akello is a medical anthropologist and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Gulu University in Uganda where she convenes that master of medical anthropology course.

Her research interests focus on the interplay between culture, health and illness particularly during conflict, complex emergencies and natural disasters. Her work has been published in a range of journals including Social Science and Medicine and Intervention. 




LSE Visiting Fellow, Michael Amoah

Dr Michael Amoah

Dr Michael Amoah specializes in African Politics, International Politics of Africa, Foreign Policy, Conflict and Security. He also has interests in International Political Economy, Development Studies and International Development. 

His publications include ‘Nationalism Globalization, and Africa’ (Palgrave Macmillan 2011) and 'A Decade of Ghana: Politics, Economy and Society 2004-2013' (Brill 2015). His forthcoming research monograph is entitled ‘The New Pan-Africanism: Globalisation and the Nation-State in Africa’ (I B Tauris 2018).





Dr Rochelle Burgess

Dr Rochelle Burgess is a community health psychologist who specialises in community mobilisation in global health, with an emphasis on gender, ethnicity and power dynamics. Over the past 10 years her projects have focused community participation, gender and mental health in South Africa. Previous projects include work on HIV in Kenya, South Africa and Swaziland. Her current research interests include: the role of health systems in supporting community mobilisation; Structural violence and mental health in post-conflict settings; and transformative research methods in global health.




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Dr Rebecca Tapscott

Dr Rebecca Tapscott is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, focusing on the relationship between violence and governance in illiberal democratic regimes.

Her current project examines strategic unpredictability as a non-traditional mode of state governance in Uganda through a study of citizens’ lived experiences of (in)security. Rebecca also has extensive field experience, having worked since 2010 on projects in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Niger, and Nepal, for several development non-government organizations and research projects.

Rebecca holds a PhD from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and previously worked as a researcher for the Justice and Security Research Programme at the LSE.





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