Founders: Lizzie Corke (CEO) & Shayne Neal (Infrastructure & Interpretation Manager)
Lizzie graduated from Melbourne University in 2000 with a degree in Zoology, while Shayne complemented his Diploma in Wilderness Reserves and Wildlife Management from Queensland University with a degree in Natural Resource Management from Melbourne University.
Understanding the importance of caring for ecosystems and the imperative for inspiring and engaging others in conservation, together they founded the Conservation Ecology Centre in 2002. At the same time they established the Great Ocean Ecolodge as a social enterprise to underwrite the Conservation Ecology Trust. The Ecolodge increases the Trust’s sustainability and also provides important opportunities to educate and engage people in conservation efforts.
The Great Ocean Ecolodge opened in 2004 and that year won the Victorian Tourism Award for Best New Business.
The following year, Lizzie was named the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year, the first female and youngest-ever recipient of the award.
In 2007 Lizzie and Shayne were recognised by the Australian Geographic Society with the prestigious Conservation Award for dedication to protecting Victoria’s threatened wildlife through rehabilitation, conservation and education.
Shayne is the 2012 Victorian State Ploughing Champion and 2011 Reserve National Ploughing Champion.
Conservation and Funding Coordinator: Dr Jack Pascoe
Jack joined the Conservation Ecology Centre in 2012 to coordinate the ever growing Conservation Programs. Jack grew up at Cape Otway before leaving to study Science at Deakin University and going on to complete his PhD with the University of Western Sydney where he studied the ecology of predators in the Blue Mountains. His key fields of expertise are conservation and wildlife biology and previous research topics have included wild dog ecology, lace monitor home range, the distribution of large forest owls and the interactions of exotic predators with native carnivores like the Tiger Quoll. Immediately prior to joining the CEC Jack worked with one of our project partners, the Southern Otway Landcare Network, primarily focusing on mitigating the impacts of pest plants and animals throughout the Otways.
Conservation and Research Team
Our research collaborators include various Universities whose post-graduate students join us to carry out research and contribute to the knowledge base and conservation of Australian flora and fauna. We also host biology graduates on three month internships as Research Assistants, gaining skills and experience and contributing to all aspects of the operation of the organisation. Key areas of involvement include ecological research, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and wildife husbandry.
Magdalena Kalus – 2012/13
Maggy graduated in 2011 from the Ludwig-Maximilan-University in Munic, Germany, as a veterinarian with specific interests horses and wild animals. She contributed in many different wildlife projects all over the globe including Africa, America and Europe including working cheetah and leopard conservation, rehabilitation of zebras and horse care. In Germany she is completing her doctoral thesis in animal behaviour and neurosciences.
While here in the Otways, she is assisting with the rehabilitation of injured or orphaned wildlife and data collection for the manna gum restoration experiments. Maggy’s position here is thanks to Tourism Australia’s 2012 competition for work and travel students.
Marika van der Pol-2012/13
Marika’s back! Since her internship in 2011, Marika has worked as an environmental consultant in northern Alberta, monitoring birds as part of the Regional Avian Protection Plan. She also briefly visited Tasmania to study the endangered 40-spotted pardalote, before returning to the Conservation Ecology Centre. During her time at the CEC, she will help to develop wild Tiger Quoll search methods. Marika will also study manna gum germination and seedling establishment as part of the habitat restoration project.
Emily Driscoll – 2012
Emily graduated with a Bachelor of Science (major in Veterinary Bioscience) from the University of Melbourne in 2012 and is now continuing into her second year of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine postgraduate degree. Emily grew up locally and has worked in the Forestry and Fire field over the summer break for the past 5 years. She has also spent a season working with koalas at Mt Eccles National Park as part of the Victorian Koala Management Strategy. She has been assisting with wildlife husbandry and data collection for the various research projects, particularly contributing to management plans for the resident Tiger Quolls.
Lindsay Wickson – 2012
Sabine Schleime – 2012 Sabine studied English and Social Sciences at the University of Munster, Germany where she will complete Masters to become a secondary school teacher. She is particularly focusing on seedling establishment trials as part of the habitat restoration component of the Koala Conservation Program and invasive species management projects.
Ulrike Gollmick - 2012 With a background in banking Ulli brings a very different background to the CEC. Ulli graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, Germany and she is working with the CEC while on sabbatical. Ulli is involved in strategic planning and a number of projects including investigating Eucalypt dieback and invasive species management.
Marston Jones – 2012 Marston graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies, and a focus in Ecology. His research experience includes work aimed at determining baseline health levels for both endangered chimpanzees and the critically-endangered black rhinoceros. This conservation work has pushed him to seek work with organizations that aim to protect and learn from the environment. Marston’s work included setting up our seedling establishment trials to determine why young Eucalyptus viminalus (Manna Gum) trees are not emerging on Cape Otway. He also aided in data collection for invasive animal surveys using camera traps, and helped to manage fox-trapping efforts located across Cape Otway.
Tom Quigley – 2012 After graduating from Emory University in 2011 with a BSc in Biology and a minor in Environmental Science, Tom has been traveling and writing for a number of online publications. His research experience includes study on the parasitoid predators of caterpillar in New Mexico with Tulane University, research on West Nile Virus prevalence and mosquito prevention in urban Atlanta with Emory University, and briefly with lobster chemosensory navigation with Boston University. At the CEC, Tom assists in data collection as part of the Koala Conservation Program and soil testing different regions in the area to assist with gaining insight into the cause of the Eucalyptus dieback.
Katlin Miller – 2012 Katlin received her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology in 2008 from Colorado State University and has since been travelling around the world performing volunteer work for a variety of conservation organizations to develop her field skills. So far, she has surveyed seabirds and larval crab in Alaska, studied African wildlife in Namibia, worked with sea turtles in Costa Rica, cared for orphan seals in the Netherlands, and joined a Students on Ice trip to Antarctica. While here at the CEC, Katlin monitoring the local koala population, working on the development of endangered species detection techniques, assisting with habitat restoration and building habitat resilience.
Tim Flynn – 2012 Tim is a Research Assistant with a difference - like all our interns he has has made a great contribution to the work of the CEC, however, he has never actually set foot in the Otways! Tim graduated from Worcester Polytech Institute in 2011 with two degrees in Robotics Engineering and Computer Science. He is currently working towards a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, expecting to graduate in May 2012. The main focus of his studies has been robotic controls, artificial intelligence, and software engineering. After graduation, Tim will be working for ViaSat, Inc. in the U.S. with the Acceleration Research and Technologies division; there, he will help to design, analyze and implement unique software-only algorithms for network acceleration purposes.
From the US Tim developed the FoliageFinder program for the CEC to analyze photographs of plant foliage by pixel and determine green-foliage to blue-sky ratio. We have found this program invaluable for quickly and effectively assessing habitat condition to analyse habitat decline in Manna Gum Woodlands.
Marika van der Pol - 2011/12 Marika holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biology from the University of Alberta, Canada. She has field experience from north central British Columbia monitoring northern flickers with the University of Saskatchewan and surveying long-toed salamanders as an amphibian research assistant with the University of Northern BC where she was also involved in community outreach conservation programs. Marika worked with Julia on intense data collection as part of the CEC’s Koala Conservation Program.
Julia Puzak - 2011/12 Julia completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in General Biology at St Mary’s College of Maryland, USA, after studying plant defence mechanisms in the Amazon rainforest, monitoring estuarine vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and marine interpretation and education in Maine. Julia worked with Marika on intense data collection as part of the CEC’s Koala Conservation Program.
Sarah Rowlands – 2011 Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Cardiff University and her field experience includes studying the endemic weevil in the rainforests of Madagascar where she also taught English and assisted rainforest guides with tourism and conservation work. Sarah worked with Chelsey studying the behaviour of the CEC’s resident tiger quolls to gain valuable insights for surveying the wild population and collecting data for CEC’s Koala Conservation Program.
Chelsey Stephenson – 2011 Chelsey graduated from the University of California with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has lab experience with recombinant DNA technology and experience in education through teaching English in Thailand. Together with Sarah she studied the behaviour of the CEC’s resident tiger quolls to gain valuable insights for surveying the wild population and collected data for CEC’s Koala Conservation Program.
Eliza Carpenter from the University of Sydney worked with us in 2011, carrying out a study on the conservation genetics of the Otway Koala population. There are many large and thriving koala populations in Victoria, but most of these were reintroduced to the Australian mainland from small founder populations, after koalas were hunted nearly to extinction in the early 20th century. When animals have come from small founder populations they may lose genetic diversity, which can in turn effect their ability to adapt to natural selection pressures, ie their “fitness”. We hope to gain a better understanding of the genetic makeup of these reintroduced populations of koalas, and the implications for management.
Andrew Wighton – 2011 Andrew holds a BA in physical anthropology and worked at San Diego Zoo. He joined us for several months of intense fieldwork as part of the CEC’s Koala Conservation Program.
Amanda Orlowski – 2010 Amy joined us to assess the effect of tree canopy defoliation on small mammal and bird assemblages at Cape Otway for her Honours through Deakin University. She was awarded First Class Honours, congrats Amy!
Last, but certainly not least, are our community volunteers – they have become a dedicated, skilled and hard working team who return to us each month to help with ecological surveys. It makes a big difference to have the extra hands (and eyes!) helping out on the surveys and since completing their training sessions the volunteers have been extemely effective in collecting high quality research data for us. This builds capacity not only for our own organisation, but for the local community as well since many of our volunteers are members of other local organisations, including Landcare. We’re sure all those extra skills in koala ecology, tiger quoll conservation, biodiversity surveys and habitat dynamics will come in handy!