Our People

About Us > Our People

Our people inspire confidence in the future through effective, innovative and engaging approaches to conserving wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend.

Lizzie Corke OAM

CEO and Founder

In 2000, Lizzie co-founded the Conservation Ecology Centre in order to develop and deliver solutions to the most urgent conservation challenges in the Otways. She works to facilitate this important work by leading a team committed to effective conservation and through organisational development, building partnerships, and engaging community.

Ecotourism plays a critical role in the CEC’s funding and engagement programs – the Centre established the Great Ocean Ecolodge in 2004 (Winner Victorian Tourism Awards for best new development, recognised by National Geographic Traveller as one of the 25 best ecolodges in the world). Lizzie is currently also working the development of a new social enterprise ecotourism venture ‘Wildlife Wonders’ on the Great Ocean Road. Designed by Brian Massey, the Art Director of The Hobbit and Landscape Designer of Hobbiton, Wildlife Wonders will provide outstanding opportunities for conservation and sustainable economic development in the region.

Lizzie is the recipient of the Banksia Foundation 2005 Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year, and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2020 for service to conservation and the environment. She has previously served as a Director of Ecotourism Australia and as Chair of the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority Community Advisory Group.

Shayne Neal

COO and Founder

Shayne completed his Diploma in Wilderness Reserves and Wildlife Management (The University of Queensland) and graduated with a degree in Natural Resource Management from The University of Melbourne in 2002. Understanding the importance of caring for ecosystems and the imperative for inspiring and engaging others in conservation, led him to establish the Conservation Ecology Centre with Lizzie Corke. He was awarded the Australian Geographic Society Conservation Award and National Geographic Society World Legacy Awards in recognition of this work in conservation and engagement.

Shayne grew up on a dairy farm in the western Otways and has skills in land management and restoration, construction, solar power and water management. After a lifetime of working with herding dogs on farms, Shayne began working with and training detection dogs through the Otways Conservation Dogs volunteer program and was the first team in the program to successfully qualify for field surveys – he currently works with Teddy (an experienced Tiger Quoll scat detection dog now also in training for Long Nosed Potoroo scat detection) and Gus (a newly qualified Tiger Quoll scat detection dog).

At the CEC and the Great Ocean Ecolodge Shayne is the go-to person to fix anything, and he’s the superpower behind the management of our facilities and delivery of our programs. Shayne delivers our dusk tours and other education and interpretation activities for Ecolodge visitors. Shayne is also the 2013, 2014 & 2015 Australian Ploughing Champion and volunteers in firefighting, road rescue, steep angle recovery and search and rescue with the Apollo Bay Country Fire Authority.

Dr Jack Pascoe

Strategic Advisor

Jack is a Yuin man living on Gadabanut Country. For the last decade, he has led the Conservation Ecology Centre’s Conservation and Research Program, which delivers adaptive management and applied ecological research across the Otway region.

Jack recently joined the University of Melbourne as a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences and his interests are in understanding and managing biocultural landscapes.

He currently sits on scientific reference groups for Zoos Victoria and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (formerly DELWP) and was a member of the Expert Panel which recently reviewed the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975. Jack is Chief Councillor of the Biodiversity Council.

Jack completed a PhD at the University of Western Sydney where he studied the predators of the Blue Mountains.

Emma Birnbaum

Conservation Project Manager

Emma loves working in research and conservation, especially in her beloved Otways. Completing a Bachelor of Conservation Biology and Ecology, from La Trobe University, Emma then went on to focus on another passion of hers, insects, undertaking an honours project on the abiotic and biotic effects of jumping in Jack Jumper ants.

Since completing her degree, she has lived in Europe, worked as a project firefighter with Forest Fire Management Victoria, and broadened her skill set and knowledge through volunteering on a wide variety of projects both in Australia and overseas. This included an internship with the CEC in 2017, which led to her ongoing role with us.

Now happily settled in the Otways, Emma’s current role at the CEC is working with land managers, including Parks Victoria and private landowners, to enhance threatened species recovery projects through the management of feral pests including foxes and pigs.

Mark Le Pla

PhD Candidate

Mark interned with the Conservation Ecology Centre over the summer of 2014/15, before re-joining the team as our Conservation & Research Assistant at the beginning of 2016. Originally from south-east Queensland, Mark completed his Bachelor of Science (Ecology and Conservation Biology) with Honours at Griffith University in 2012. Whilst his initial research work focussed on bird communities, Mark gained a wide range of ecological field skills through several internship and volunteer opportunities before joining the CEC. Some of these experiences include: radio-tracking reintroduced Brush-tailed Possums and trapping Western Quolls in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park; trapping small mammals and reptiles in the central desert country of AWC’s Newhaven Sanctuary; and assisting in the translocation of several hundred Bridled Nail-tail Wallabies at AWC’s Scotia Sanctuary. Mark now assists in delivering the CEC’s conservation programs, including one of our most exciting projects to date, the Otways Threatened Species Research Network.

James Templeton

Conservation Project Manager

James developed a strong passion for conservation whilst working at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa where he was involved in the trapping, handling, containment, care and release of wildlife such as rhinos, giraffes and raptors.

This experience led him to then pursue a degree in Environmental Management (Honours) at the University of Queensland. For his Honours Project he designed a long-term monitoring program for Logan City Council of the Slacks Creek Catchment in order to assess the success of conservation efforts in the area. His work with a variety of grassroots organisations since then, both in Australia and abroad, bolstered his beliefs in the value of community engagement, especially with indigenous communities.

After an internship with the Conservation Ecology Centre in 2021, James joined the team as a Conservation Project Officer in 2022 to assist with the control of feral pigs and deer in the Otways as a part of the Wild Otways Initiative.

James has strong ties to the region and is ecstatic to have this opportunity to live and work on Gadubanud country, getting to know the area in more detail and to participate in conservation efforts on this land.

Tamika Farley-Lehmer

PhD Candidate

Tamika’s interest in fire ecology was sparked during three seasons working as a Project Fire Fighter with Forest Fire Management Victoria in the Dandenong Ranges National Park and Warrandyte State Park, as well as her experience fighting fires in East Gippsland during the summer periods, including during the Summer of Fire in 2019/2020.   

While working with FFMVic Tamika was introduced to the use of fire as a land management tool and was able to build her practical field skills and land management knowledge.

Now returning to a research role with the Conservation Ecology Centre she hopes to gain a better understanding of post fire habitats through projects like the Wild Otways Initiative, building on her existing interest in ecosystem dynamics and interactions.

Tamika was an intern at the Conservation Ecology Centre in 2019 and has undertaken various other volunteer and paid opportunities working in conservation (or ecosystem science), both within Australia and internationally.

Tamika holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology from Monash University and received a first class for her Honours project, which focussed on how nutrition influences life trait response to temperature in Drosophila fruit fly.

Toni Stevens

Manager, Communications & Stakeholder Engagement

Toni Stevens is a communication professional with a background in environmental science. For the past 10 years she has been working with scientists to share their stories via media, social media, online and in-person.

Toni treasures her time in the Otways and loves sharing the experience with others. She believes telling the stories of our wild places is an important step in helping people to understand the value of conserving them.

Toni completed degrees in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of Canberra and spent her honours year studying the habits of the endangered Grassland Earless Dragon.

She now oversees all the communication and digital marketing activities for both Wildlife Wonders and its founding organisation, the Conservation Ecology Centre.

Stephan Ras

Finance Manager

Steve is the Finance Manager at the Conservation Ecology Centre, which founded Wildlife Wonders as a social enterprise to help fund their conservation and research program.

He is responsible for the day-to-day financial management of both organisations and is also responsible for implementing the financial strategy and direction, which support this innovative approach to wildlife conservation.

He identifies and implements systems, policies and processes to improve financial monitoring, accountability and growth across the Conservation Ecology Centre and Wildlife Wonders.

Steve has a Master of Science in Educational Studies and feels right at home with his management skills. He has a passion for eco-tourism and sustainability and managed the Great Ocean Ecolodge on the grounds of the Conservation Ecology Centre from 2015 to 2021 with his partner Karlijn Sas.

Dr Andrea de Kauwe

Fundraising Coordinator

Andrea de Kauwe trained in the biomedical sciences, completing her PhD in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne in 2007.  Inspired as a child by David Attenborough’s documentaries as well as an innate sense of wonderment and curiosity of the natural world, Andrea has long been interested in conservation and environmental protection efforts in Australia. 

After completing a post-doctoral position in Finland and freelancing as a science communicator/editor, Andrea moved to the Otways with a strong desire to spend less time in artificial environments and more time in nature with her young family of avid bushwalkers and biophiliacs.  Her interest in protecting and nurturing Australia’s wild places has deepened and she sees the work of the Conservation Ecology Centre as being vitally important to conserving the ecosystems of the Otways.  

Andrea’s research background has given her an understanding of the challenges of scientific research and funding cycles, while her other work with Landcare and Apollo Bay WORDfest has given her insights into event planning, promotion and management, as well as stewardship of volunteers, supporters and funding partners.  She works for the CEC part-time, coordinating our fundraising strategy and giving program.

Julia Delgado

Digital Marketing

Bio coming soon.

Isabel Jorzik

2023 Intern

Growing up in southern Germany, Isabel was introduced to ecology by her parents when hiking through the Alpine forelands and exploring Europe’s various landscapes. She studied Life Science at the University of Konstanz (Germany), which combines the fields of biology and chemistry. Isabel finished her bachelor’s degree in 2022 and wrote her thesis on the seasonal differences in the weather conditions and the behavior of white storks (Ciconia ciconia) during migration. She is currently undertaking the consecutive master’s program.

Isabel’s passion lies in tracking animals and movement ecology. She has worked at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, exploring high-resolution biologging data and investigating collective migration. Through her studies, she was able to conduct field work on Cyprus, researching the ecology of Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) for future conservation projects.

During her internship at the CEC, Isabel is striving to gain more practical experience and learn about Australia’s unique flora and fauna. She is excited to apply her knowledge to help preserve the Otways in a meaningful way.

Alisha Fulton

2023 Intern

Alisha grew up amongst the rich biodiversity surrounding Perth, fascinated with nature documentaries and the outdoors. This fascination turned into a passion for conservation when Alisha learnt about the biodiversity crisis. This led her to complete an honours degree in Ecology and Conservation Biology at Monash University in 2022. Her honours thesis investigated the response of native bees to desiccation stress, which is predicted to increase with climate change.

After completing her degree, Alisha worked as an Ecological Gardener at the Peninsula Hot Springs. During this time, she conducted a native bee survey focusing on raising awareness of native bees amongst the public. Alisha is also incredibly passionate about regenerative agriculture, having partaken in two international conferences and with a published paper on the subject. Someday, she hopes to combine her passion for native bees, regenerative agriculture, and conservation and undertake a PhD.

Since completing the Great Ocean Walk a few years ago, the Otways has remained a special place for Alisha. She feels lucky to now work on conserving this magical place and is looking forward to learning a range of skills and furthering her knowledge of ecology and conservation.

Angelina Trnka

2023 Intern

Growing up on Larrakia country in Darwin, Angelina developed a deep love for nature whilst camping, hiking and exploring the tropical savanna woodlands and unique sandstone escarpments of the Top End. When she became involved in a Land for Wildlife rehabilitation project for the Black-footed tree-rat with Conservation Volunteers, her passion for nature conservation blossomed. This led her to complete a Bachelor of Environmental Science majoring in conservation and biodiversity at Charles Darwin University. Living remotely on the Tiwi Islands, NT for the past two years, she has worked as a research assistant for the Research Institute of the Environment and Livelihoods, conducting native mammal and vegetation surveys to investigate the potential drivers of native mammal declines on the Tiwis. 

Angelina strives to pursue a career in biodiversity conservation to aid in the vital task of preserving biodiversity and regenerating degraded habitats. During her time at the CEC, Angelina hopes to gain a better understanding of applied research methods for native mammals, fire management and further develop practical field skills. She is excited to join the CEC team and explore the highly diverse habitats of the Cape Otways region!

Mahalia Barter

2023 Intern

Growing up in inner city Melbourne Mahalia didn’t grow up immersed in nature, however, she was always intrigued by the diverse range of environments and species she encountered on her numerous bush walks. It was early on during her undergraduate degree that Mahalia became passionate about environmental conservation and knew she wanted a career in the field. She completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours at Monash University, double majoring in Zoology and Ecology Conservation Biology. Her honours project involved travelling around Australia examining the intrinsic and extrinsic factors of numerous Australian skink species to determine whether differences in these factors existed between range-restricted and widely distributed species.

Currently studying a Masters of Ecosystem Management and Conservation at the University of Melbourne, Mahalia hopes this internship at the Conservation Ecology Centre will provide her with a hands-on experience. She hopes to gain practical fieldwork experience, particularly in mammal trapping and surveying, enhance her species identification skills, and further explore the beautiful Otways region during her time at CEC.