Staff Profiles

Leif Stenberg

On 1 April 2017, Dr Leif Stenberg took up the position as the Director of AKU-ISMC in London. He received his PhD in History of Religions from Lund University, Sweden. Prior to joining ISMC, he was an Assistant Professor in History of Religions at Uppsala University, a visiting scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and at the Institut Français d’Études Arabes de Damas (IFEAD) in Damascus, Syria. He also worked at Växjö University but since 2001, he held a position at Lund University in Islamology and then became an Associate Professor. Stenberg was the Head of Islamology at Lund University. In 2007, he was appointed Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at LU. He was a full Professor in Islamology at LU. In 2017, he worked as a full Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the Aga Khan University. Stenberg has been the President of the Nordic Society of Middle Eastern Studies and a member of the World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES) Council. He has also been the Vice-President of the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies (EURAMES) since 2014. He has ​ been serving at the Expert Committee of Humanities and Social Sciences, Research Council of Norway.​ 

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3840

​David Taylor​

Dr Taylor was appointed as the Head of Educational P​rogrammes in 2017. He was Vice Provost of the Aga Khan University from 2002-2008. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at SOAS, where he became Dean and then Pro-Director with responsibility for teaching. He has been a Visiting Fellow at Panjab University in Chandigarh (India), Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, and the Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.​​


Telephone:  +44 (0)20 7380 3836


Razia Velji

Razia Velji has worked at ISMC since 2003; she is currently Manager, Academic Planning & Research Development and has also served as Head of Administration (Jan 2005 - Jan 2006) and Interim Student Affairs Officer (April to August 2008). Prior to joining ISMC, Ms Velji worked at the University’s Institute for Educational Development (IED) in Pakistan and at the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada where she was responsible for the Foundation's national development education initiatives; while at the Foundation she also managed a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency for programmes in education and agriculture in Tajikistan. Ms Velji has a Master's degree from Harvard University in Education Administration, Planning and Policy. She is also a qualified teacher and holds a BA (English Literature) and BEd from the University of British Columbia.​​

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 38​​67​​​​

​Bushra Shaikha

Bushra ​​​joined ISMC in April 2016​ as Senior Assistant, Educational Programmes ​and became Assistant Registrar in September 2016​.​ She holds an MBA in Educational Management from IoBM (Institute of Business Management, Karachi), an MBA in HR and a BBA in Marketing. Prior to joining ISMC, she worked as Senior Programme Administrator and Developer at Nixor (Karachi) and as English teacher at Bay View High School (Karachi).​


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3860

Jyoti Alfino

Jyoti Alfino joined ISMC in June 2017 as Coordinator, Academic Programmes and Director’s Office. Prior to joining ISMC, Jyoti was an MSc Programme Administrator at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for five and a half years. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Westminster.


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3843

Dr Walid Ghali

Dr Walid Ghali is a chartered librarian of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). He joined the AKU-ISMC in July 2012 and was appointed as Head Librarian for the joint library of the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and the Institute of Ismaili Studies in February 2014. Prior to that, he worked in various librarian roles at the American University in Cairo. In addition, he held several consultancy roles in and outside Egypt, such as Ministry of Endowment, Qatar University and the Supreme Council for Culture in Kuwait. Walid received his PhD in Library Science from Cairo University. He has also completed all course work for the Master's in Islamic Studies and a postgraduate diploma in Executive Management from the American University in Cairo. His research interests include: Arabic literature; Islamic manuscripts; bibliographies; sufism; and the history of writing.  ​​

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3852​


Waseem Farooq

Waseem is working as Librarian at the joint Library of the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and the Institute of Ismaili Studies. He joined in 2005, prior to which he was Arabic Cataloguer and Leading Library Assistant at the British Library. Waseem has a BA (Hons) degree in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Durham, an MA in Historical Research Methods from SOAS and MA in Library and Information Studies from UCL. His research interests include: early Islamic history, Islamic historiography, Arabic papyrology, and Islamic law and hadith studies. ​

Contact Details


​Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3868​

Pedro Sanchez Rodriguez

Pedro joined the ISMC as Assistant Librarian in September 2016, focusing on systems management and technology application in the library. Pedro holds an MA in Librarianship from the University of Sheffield and an honours degree in Information Science (Licenciado en Documentacion) from the University of Granada in Spain. Pedro worked in various research and academic libraries prior to joining the ISMC; ranging from library support to management roles. His professional interests include bibliometrics and scholarly publications impact, open acces strategies and open source library management systems. Pedro also enjoys cataloguing, indexing, classifying and building thesauri.​

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3863

​Alex Leach

Alex joined the ISMC in November 2010 and is a Library Assistant for the joint library of the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3864​

Charlotte Whiting​

Dr Charlotte Whiting joined AKU-ISMC in 2012. She is Manager of the Institute’s Publications Department as well as the Governance in Muslim Contexts Programme. Previously, Dr Whiting was Deputy Manager of the Iraq Programme at the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA), an initiative working to build research capacity at Iraqi universities. She completed her BA, MPhil and PhD in Archaeology at the Universities of Cambridge and Durham, followed by a Post-doctoral Research Fellowship at the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) in Amman, Jordan. She was Director of the South Jordan Iron Age II Survey Project, Director of Excavations at Khirbet al-Dabba and Manager of the Tel Jezreel Post-excavation and Publication Project. She has also worked as the ceramic specialist on several other surveys and excavations throughout the Middle East. Whilst at CBRL, she was an Aylwin M. Cotton Foundation Fellow and recipient of awards from the Russell Trust and the Mediterranean Archaeological Trust. She is author of Complexity and Diversity in the Iron Age Southern Levant (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2007), as well as articles and book chapters on the historiography and politics of Iron Age archaeology in the Middle East, the theory and methodology of Iron Age archaeology in the Levant, and multi-period ceramic assemblages from Jordan.

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3869​

Alexandra Khan

Alexandra Khan is Manager, Marketing and Professional Programmes. She joined ISMC in April 2014. ​She is a member of the Chartered Institute for Public Relations and has a broad range of experience in education​ communications, including consultancy work for the Department for Education, the London Borough of Camden, University of East London and for a specialist education communications agency.

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3847

Dawn Barnes

Dawn Barnes is Manager, Marketing, Communications and Professional Programmes as maternity cover for Alexandra Khan (until September 2017). Dawn holds a BA joint honours degree in English and French and a Professional Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. She is a member of the Institute of Leadership & Management and has varied experience in communications, marketing, public relations and public affairs for the public, charity and private sectors. Dawn spent over three years working for Russell Group universities before joining the Aga Khan University in 2016.

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3847

Layal Mohammad

Layal Mohammad is Co-ordinator, Marketing, Communications and Professional Programmes. She joined ISMC in March 2017. She holds a BA in English Literature from Al-Baath University, Syria, where she was honoured on numerous occasions for academic achievement. She also received the Academic Excellence Award. She studied an MA in English Linguistics in Syria then​ an MA in Muslim Cultures at AKU-ISMC in London. Prior to her current position, she worked as a volunteer in an institution for children with special needs, as an English language instructor and as a translator and office administrator for ARBEET for Engineering and Consulting Company in Syria. She also worked for the MCA and KITAB projects at ISMC in London.

Contact Details​


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3839​

Saima Faisal Ali

Saima Faisal Ali is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD. She holds an honours degree in Business Administration and an MBA with majors in Human Resource Management. She completed the CIPD Professional Development Scheme in 2010 and is currently working as the HR Manager, at the ISMC. Saima joined the ISMC in September 2005, prior to which, she worked within the Aga Khan Development Network in Karachi, including the Aga Khan Education Services and The First Microfinance Bank. 

Contact Details


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3854​

Mohamad Meqdad​

Mohamad Meqdad is the Arabic Editor of the Muslim Civilisations Abstracts Project, which he joined in 2010. He received an MA in Muslim Cultures from the Aga Khan University - Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and ​holds a BA in Archaeology and Museum Studies from the University of Aleppo, Syria. Prior to joining the ISMC, Mohamad participated in different national and international archaeological excavations in Syria for over four years exploring hidden cultures, preserving and displaying them to the public.​

Contact Details

Email: ​

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3834​

Eugene O'Donnell

Eugene joined ISMC in March 2017 as Head of Information and Educational Technologies. Although working with the ISMC team, part of his remit is to integrate the IT function of the three organisations which fall under the AKDN umbrella: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, The Aga Khan Foundation and The Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations. Eugene is a member of the British Computer Society and holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Information Systems and Management from the University of London. His previous role was as IT Director at The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7380 3845​