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Join the team at the Conservation Ecology Centre on a Conservation & Research Internship.

Our volunteer Interns bring skills, expertise and enthusiasm and make a great contribution to our conservation programs, assisting with on ground action, community engagement, research, wildlife husbandry and organisational development.

The positions provide an outstanding opportunity for gaining experience in wildlife handling, research project design, data collection and analysis, community engagement, habitat conservation and non-profit management.

Potential interns will hold a degree in ecology, biology, wildlife conservation, zoology, conservation biology or similar subjects at tertiary level.

Volunteer internship placements are for three months and two positions are available at a time. Applications are now open for our Round 1 and Round 2 Internships.

Applications close for Round 1 on Friday the 31st of May 2024.
Applications close for Round 2 on Friday the 23rd of August 2024.


Alternatively, if you have a specialist skill you think we could use send us a message on the volunteer page.

Meet our past interns…

Molly Fisher

2024 Intern

Molly grew up in Apollo Bay and the Horden Vale region. She left the beautiful seaside town to complete a Bachelor of Science at Monash University where she majored in Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Plant Sciences. Since completing her degree Molly has worked with the Threatened Species Conservancy where she has contributed to and managed conservation projects aimed at protecting a range of species including Harrow Wattles (Acacia acanthoclada) in the Mallee, Butterflies and Snails in the Otways, and Black Gums (Eucalyptus aggregata) in Woodend.

While Molly grew up in Apollo Bay and knows the area well, she is excited to explore the ecology of the Otways and give back to the community that gave so much to her. She is particularly keen to learn more about mammalian ecology, develop her trapping and animal husbandry skills, and solidify her identification skills with a range of species right at the CEC doorstep! The provided stipend will also allow Molly to fully invest her time into learning as much as she can during her internship position.

Miranda Braakhuis

2024 Intern

Miranda grew up in Melbourne and went on family holidays to the Otways, so has many fond memories exploring waterfalls, boogie-boarding and snorkelling in the region. She studied a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife & Conservation Biology) at Deakin University and completed an honours degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her honours project was comparing the accuracy and cost of different methodologies to survey for koala density, including the traditional method of line-transect distance sampling with more emerging techniques including thermal-imaging drones and acoustic recorders. During her time on the Sunshine Coast she also worked as a conservation detection dog handler with the Detection Dogs for Conservation team, partnering with rescue dogs to help find koalas, quolls and their scat in the landscape.

Miranda is passionate about optimising survey methods for threatened species conservation and loves all things fieldwork. Whilst interning at the CEC, Miranda is looking forward to gaining knowledge and experience in fire and feral animal management, deepening her flora and fauna ID skills and contributing to effective on-ground conservation in the Otways.

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.

Chiranjeevi Khanal

2023 Intern

Chiranjeevi was born and grown up in Nepal, a country rich in ancient cultures and natural diversity.  He has been very passionate about wildlife from a young age and to follow his passion as a career, he joined the Institute of Forestry for Certificate Level in forestry continuing it to Bachelor of Science in Forestry, and a Master of Science in Natural Resources and Development.

He is a well-known conservationist in Nepal and has worked with the government and together with several organizations for wildlife research and conservation in his country. Most of his research focused on the distribution and ecology of different wildlife species and wildlife crime in western Nepal. Moreover, he runs conservation campaigns in different parts of country to motivate youth in conservation and has been working as a wildlife rescuer in Nepal.

His focus has been on striped hyaena research and conservation, hyena’s are one of the least studied species. Chiran represents the IUCN SSC Hyaena Specialist Group as a member from Nepal. Chiran was awarded with “Young Conservation Leader Award” by WWF Nepal in 2015.

He loves travelling and enjoys trekking in Himalayas of Nepal and this time he wants to explore Australia mainly in the forest and landscape around the Otways watching native mammals and birds of Australia. Chiran is very hopeful to multiply his knowledge in wildlife research and very excited to gain new experience in techniques for capture and marking of mammals, GPS collaring and genetic data collection during his internship at Conservation Ecology Centre.

Maia Loeffler

2023 Intern

Growing up surrounded by a menagerie of pets, Maia has always loved animals. Her desire to work with Australian fauna stemmed from volunteering as a teenager at JABS Joey and Bat Sanctuary.

Maia’s passion for wildlife conservation led her to complete a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecology and Zoology at the University of Melbourne. During her degree she completed a year of domestic exchange at the University of Western Australia, where she participated in various reptile, small-mammal, and marine fauna surveys. In her final year of university, she undertook a research project on artificial habitat design for threatened species living in urban environments, building a framework to guide more effective artificial habitat use. After graduating, Maia volunteered in the Maldives, first as a research assistant with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme, and then at the Olive Ridley Project sea-turtle rescue centre. Her time in the Maldives consolidated her passion for both hand-on research and animal husbandry.

Maia is very excited to build on her ecology and conservation skills while working at the CEC, and is particularly looking forward to expanding her local flora and fauna identification and exploring the Otways.

Domini Bowen

Domini has been lucky enough to know from a young age she wanted to work in Ecology and Conservation. She completed her Zoology degree at the University of Edinburgh and then went on to recently finish a Masters in Conservation Science at the University of Queensland. Her thesis was investigating different stakeholders’ perspectives on dingo policies and what this means for wider reaching management.

Together with her studies she has worked in a variety of ecology labs in the UK and rainforest animal rehabilitation centres in Borneo and Costa Rica. Her passion for Australian wildlife grew when helping a PhD student with camera trap data investigating the effects of the 2019 fires on fauna in Lamington National Park, Queensland.

Whilst interning at CEC, Domini hopes to gain a better understanding of National Park managerial work specifically fire management and the application of conservation and ecological research into the field.

Rebecca Simpson

Growing up in rural NSW, Rebecca’s exposure to the environment and concern for wildlife conservation led her to complete a Bachelor of Animal Science with integrated honours at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.

Her honours project looked at the influence of habitat fragmentation on mallee woodland reptiles in an agricultural landscape. Whilst undertaking her tertiary studies, Rebecca completed various stints of volunteer work with conservation organisations and wildlife rescues. Her time assisting Arid Recovery and Bush Heritage with fieldwork was especially notable, teaching her valuable skills and consolidating her passion for conservation.

Rebecca is striving towards a career in ecological conservation so that she can aid in the preservation of Australia’s native flora and fauna. She is very excited to join the team at CEC to learn new skills, diversify her knowledge and apply effective conservation methods.

Emma Hinde

2022 Intern

Emma was introduced to the importance of conservation and ecology in Southern Africa, which inspired her to undertake a Bachelors of Science degree majoring in Ecology and Zoology.

She has led research on climate drivers of morphological evolution of Australian Skinks and Goannas and has volunteered on many important conservation initiatives such as the DELWP Plains Wanderer song meter analysis.

Whilst interning at the CEC, Emma hopes to gain experience in applied ecology and conservation, developing her animal and plant identification skills and learning more about mammal research and trapping.

Ella Cathcart-van Weeren

2022 Intern

Ella was introduced to ecology and conservation through the lens of Traditional knowledge in the Northern Territories’ Aboriginal communities, where she grew up. 

She also has strong ties to Cape Otway, where she holidayed every year, exploring its beaches, woodlands, and rainforests. She is excited to further her knowledge of the Otways and contribute to positive conservation outcomes as an intern with the CEC. 

Ella holds a degree in Masters of Conservation Science, and works as a Research Assistant and Tutor at the University of Queensland, teaching statistics and field ecology. Her work focuses on how rainforest trees vary their functional traits in response to moisture availability, and how they might be affected by climate change.

Rikkert Loosveld

2022 Intern

Growing up around the world, Rik always had an interest in being outdoors and seeing different ecosystems and its wildlife. He majored in Environmental Science & Sustainability at University College Utrecht (Netherlands) where he completed his BSc. thesis studying the effects of a landfill on mangrove forest succession in Aruba. His research provided the first hard data on plastic pollution in Aruban mangroves and was used by local government to develop a bill banning single-use plastic bags. This experience consolidated his desire to work in conservation, after which he completed a MSc. in Forest and Nature Conservation, specialising in ecology, at Wageningen University (NL). For his MSc. thesis Rik completed a microhistological analysis to determine the spatiotemporal response of the Burchell’s (plains) zebra to different supplementary feed choices during the dry season, to assist wildlife management choices on heavily resource-depleted lands.

Rik’s international background, studies and project fieldwork experiences took him around the world, and lead him towards Australia where he wants to start his career in conservation ecology. He worked with aquatic & terrestrial invertebrates, birds, small & large mammals and gained experience in various vegetation and animal surveying methods. He joined the CEC to gain more concrete experience in applied ecology and conservation, to improve his knowledge of Australian fauna and flora, and he hopes this experience can be used as a steppingstone to start a career in wildlife and conservation ecology.

Elodie Brooks

2022 Intern

Having grown up in the Adelaide Hills with a love for nature Elodie later decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in science majoring in Biodiversity and Conservation at Flinders University. She became inspired by a university trip to Fiji, where she gained local knowledge of the relationship, awareness, and communication of environmental issues such as deforestation within rural communities.

Much of the time she spent volunteering included part-taking in the implementation of bushfire and biodiversity recovery programs in Kangaroo Island as well as the application of predator-free design mechanisms for the wild Bettong with Arid Recovery.

Elodie’s undertook an honours project which focused on the utilisation of genetic techniques to analyse population structure of the Critically Endangered Spiny Daisy within Mid-north South Australia. This information was then embedded within conservation management intervention for the species, prioritizing strategies that better maximize genetic diversity in aim to enhance the species evolutionary resilience and long-term persistence within the wild.

She undertook an Internship with CEC to increase practical skills within the conservation industry; some which include wildlife handling, flora and fauna analyses, feral animal control programs and fire ecology within the Otway’s region. She hopes to further progress a career within conservation management and the environmental field.

Emma Fitzsimmons

2022 Intern

Like others in the conservation community, Emma’s love and curiosity with nature started from an early age with some of her fondest childhood memories involving insect collecting, bush walking, and listening to her cassette tape of “What Bird Call Is That?” ad nauseum. These interests led her to completing both a Bachelor of Environmental Management (Natural Systems and Wildlife) with honours and a Master of Conservation Science at the University of Queensland.

Emma’s honours project saw her assess the effectiveness of Australia’s protected area network at conserving the most at-risk bioregions, while her master’s project focused on evaluating the costs and benefits of both in-situ and ex-situ management actions in the conservation of the southern Black-throated finch (Poephila cincta cincta). During this period, Emma also spent several years volunteering at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital on the Gold Coast, assisting with the rehabilitation of native wildlife. Although her cassette tape listening days may be over, Emma is still an avid birder and spends a lot of her spare time outdoors with binoculars and camera in hand.

Emma is excited to be spending the next few months interning at the Conservation Ecology Centre and hopes to deepen her animal handling and survey skills as well as gain new knowledge of fire and invasive species management in the Otways.

Louisa Bartels

2022 Intern

Growing up in Sydney, Louisa has always had a natural curiosity for animals which led her to study a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience majoring in wildlife conservation and management at the University of Sydney.

Her enthusiasm for entomology at university then led her to pursue an honours project investigating reproductive interactions between two closely related native bee (Tetragonula) species. Her research demonstrated that males showed attraction to queens of their related species, although no evidence of hybridisation was found.

During university she completed placement on the Great Barrier Reef at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre aiding injured sea turtles. She has also volunteered with the AWC on a biodiversity survey in Pilliga National Park and assisted a PhD project on mass mortality events in Kosciuszko National Park.

Louisa enjoys learning about wildlife behaviour and is passionate about restoring threatened native flora and fauna populations. This desire has been strengthened from working across a range of ecological communities as a bushland regenerator where she has witnessed the native wildlife that rely on these ecosystems.

Abbey Ralph

2022 Intern

Abbey’s drive for conservation began when she started studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science (honours) at Deakin University (2018 –2021) and through her various volunteer placements.

She has been shaped by her time spent diving off the coral reefs in Thailand as a conservation diver and her time spent caring for Tasmanian natives at Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary. Further to this, she has gained industry experience while working with Parks Victoria as a member of the Environment, Land and Water team in Halls Gap and through her role as a Conservation Dog Handler for the Middle Island Penguin Project.  

After completing her honours year studying the distribution of the Long-nosed Potoroo and the Southern Brown Bandicoot in the Grampians National Park, Abbey developed a strong passion for small mammals and field work. As a young researcher Abbey is thrilled to be working at CEC and is looking forward to developing her research skills, knowledge of wildlife and learning from people at CEC. 

Alan Cheung

2021 Intern

Enchanted by the wonder of Mother Nature and her majestic beasts, this has brought Alan to undertake a Bachelor of Wildlife Science and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the University of Queensland. His honours project focused on the ecology of the European red fox, one of the worst vertebrate pests in Australia, at the Port of Brisbane, Queensland.

Throughout his academic studies as well as after his graduation, he took on as many volunteering works as possible, both locally and internationally, at conservation organisations and wildlife sanctuaries. This included Tasmanian devil husbandry and monitoring in Cradle Mountain and Vale of Belvoir (TAS), Glossy Black Cockatoo’s feeding tree survey in Lockyer Valley (QLD) and aquatic and terrestrial fauna survey at Mai Po Nature Reserve (Hong Kong) with WWF HK. Alan also worked with Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong on marine mammal stranding response, and he traversed through rugged terrain and nearly impenetrable vegetation and swamp to investigate the poaching intensity of native freshwater turtles.

Alan is looking forward to participating in a range of applied conservation projects with the experienced team at Conservation Ecology Centre to boost his hands-on experience, knowledge, and analytical skills.

Inala Swart

2021 Intern

Inala has been passionate about wildlife and ecology since day one. Raised in south-eastern Victoria, a childhood spent exploring the bush and learning way too many animal facts eventually led to her studying her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Zoology in beautiful lutruwita/Tasmania. Her Honours project focused on forty-spotted pardalotes and their relationship with their key food resource, Eucalyptus viminalis.

Since graduating, Inala has worked with Australian Wildlife Conservancy on their Mallee Cliffs feral-proof enclosure and mammal reintroduction project. She also volunteers on a range of causes close to her heart, most notably the Tasmanian Orange-bellied Parrot Program, which has instilled in her equal passions for the role of captive management in species recovery and a maybe over-the-top love of buttongrass moorland.

Inala is excited to learn about the specific ecology and conservation challenges of the Otway region and hopes to develop a broad suite of conservation skills. She is particularly interested in how science-informed management and novel strategies can help build ecological resilience in the face of an anthropogenic world,

Luke Bonifacio

2021 Intern

Luke is an enthusiastic ecology graduate determined to make a difference in wildlife conservation. He developed a strong sensitivity for animal conservation during a volunteer trip to Costa Rica in 2011, where he assisted with research into the conservation of bottlenose dolphins and poison dart frogs. The experience opened his eyes to the threats faced by wildlife globally, motivating him to pursue a career in the conservation field.  

In 2018, Luke graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Science (Hons), majoring in Ecology and Conservation Biology. His Honours project saw him travel around Australia investigating predictors of extinction risk in Australian skinks. He also assisted with several conservation research projects during his degree, developing skills in fauna surveying, research design and community engagement. His highlights included conducting an inbreeding avoidance project on helmeted honeyeaters, volunteering with the Marine Mammal Foundation and visiting the Galapagos Islands where he helped investigate the reproductive success of Darwin’s finches.

By joining the Conservation Ecology Centre, Luke is excited to learn about the complex conservation challenges in the Otways and advance his skills in animal husbandry, land management and species identification. Luke is also keen to explore the vast wilderness of the Otways and capture its spectacular biodiversity using his wildlife photography kit.

Erin Liddell

2021 Intern

Growing up in rural Gippsland fostered Erin’s passion for protecting Australia’s native species and ecosystems. She recently completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at Monash University, where her honours project examined how genetic data are used to inform management recommendations for threatened species.

Erin has volunteered for a range of organisations and projects, including at Healesville Sanctuary and the Australian Conservation Foundation. Erin is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from the Conservation Ecology Centre team and to contribute to their important work in the beautiful Otway region. She is excited to further develop her fieldwork and species identification skills, and to learn more on topics such as fire ecology and feral pest management. Erin hopes to use the skills she gains at the CEC to pursue a career that combines her passion for threatened species research with advocacy and community engagement.

Emma O’Dwyer-Hall


Growing up on the Central Coast of NSW Emma developed a strong interest in the bush and its conservation, in particular Blue Mountains National park which she would frequently hike through with her grandfather. In 2019, she completed a degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology (honours) with Deakin University, completing an honours project studying the impact that fire ecology has on Frogs, in particular the Southern toadlet Pseudophryne semimarmorata in the Otways National Park. As frogs are under-researched in the Otways she needed to determine possible site locations using GIS mapping, and then detection/ occupancy was determined using frog playback accompanied with song box surveying.

Throughout her degree, and after, Emma has gained further skills and knowledge in threatened species management and science surveying through volunteering with the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeaters in Yellingbo National Park, the Tasmanian Devil Program on Maria Island, Caramonal Refugia a Sea Turtle refuge in Costa Rica and by assisting numerous PHD and Honours students throughout Victoria and NSW. She has also gained Land management experience through her work with Flora Victoria working in restoring Victoria’s grasslands throughout the Vic Volcanic Plains, and Toolijooa Environmental restoration assisting in bushland revegetation and regeneration in National parks and Mining offsets throughout the Hunter region (NSW).

Emma is excited to learn with the experienced team at the Conservation Ecology Centre and aims to learn more skills in threatened and feral species management, fire ecology and land management in the Otways as well as improving her fauna and flora identification skills.

Claire Mackay


Claire recently completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) with a major in Ecology and Conservation Biology at Monash University. For her honours, Claire assessed the efficacy of drones to monitor populations of tree-nesting seabirds compared to traditional ground-based methods. Her fieldwork was based on a remote and uninhabited tropical island of the Cocos (Keeling) Island group in the Indian Ocean.

Growing up in Melbourne, Claire has enjoyed volunteering at Healesville Sanctuary and spending time with animals. During her undergraduate, she completed a research project testing a variety of infrared cameras against spotlighting methods to detect small endotherms, including the Critically Endangered Plains Wanderer in northern Victoria. She has also worked with Superb Fairywrens at Lysterfield Park (VIC), Australian skink species at Kosciusko National Park (NSW), Eastern Reef Egrets on Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef), and understorey rainforest plants in Borneo, Malaysia. Claire previously completed an internship with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) preparing draft conservation assessments for 200 Proteaceae plants for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

While interning at the CEC, Claire would like to learn more about invasive animal control, gain more experience in mammal research and trapping, and develop her plant and animal identification skills.

Deirdre Ng Sing Kwong


Deirdre’s passion for wildlife and conservation led her to undertake a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne and a Master of Conservation Science at the University of Queensland.
Her research project focused on the impacts of marine reserves on the efficacy of fisheries in the Caribbean. She has also volunteered with the Roots & Shoots program of the Jane Goodall Institute Australia, and has participated in community engagement events and marine turtle
conservation campaigns for primary schools.
During her time at CEC, Deirdre has greatly enjoyed the amount of practical, hands-on skills she has gained from fieldwork. Furthermore, she appreciated that she was able to contribute to a wide breadth of projects ranging from feral pest management to native wildlife response to fire. Finally, she adored living in the beautiful Otways and loved the close proximity to rainforests, beaches, and chance encounters with wildlife. Deirdre hopes to utilise the knowledge and experience she gained from CEC towards wildlife management and ecological conservation research.

Jack Dickson

2020 Intern

Jack developed his interest in Australian wildlife and the bush from his father who is an avid birdwatcher. This led to him undertaking study at the University of Melbourne, completing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Ecology back in 2018, his project investigated the prevalence of Toxoplasmosis in feral cats across Australia. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease in felines, that can also affects other warm blooded animals and that can be lethal in Australian wildlife. Throughout his honours year and into 2019 he took on as many ecology volunteering roles as possible, allowing him to travel across Australia and explore different areas in ecologic fieldwork. This ranged from kangaroo and small macropod behaviour on Maria Island (TAS), Crest-Tailed Mulgra trapping survey near Strzelecki (SA), reptile trapping survey in the Mallee (NSW), and Koala surveying on French Island (VIC). During this time Jack picked up a camera and created a love for photography which he uses to showcase the beauty of the Australian bush @regentphotographyaus .

During his internship at the CEC, Jack hopes to gain experience in land management practices, invasive species control, animal husbandry, as well as learning about current fire management practises in the Otways, and science communication & engagement to the public. Jack plans to use this opportunity as a spring board to move into further conservation and ecology roles.

Yonina Eizenberg

2020 Intern

Yoni is a passionate member of the conservation community. She has completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours) at Deakin University in 2019. For her Honours project, she explored the breeding biology of two seabird species in northern Bass Strait. This included collecting, organising and analysing weight and morphometric data for Fairy prion (Pachyptila turtur) and Common diving petrel (Pelecanoides urinatrix) chicks. She found that throughout the three years of breeding, survival rates among common diving petrel chicks were declining due to poor food availability. Understanding that the health of our oceans, native grasslands and forests is essential for the survival of threatened species, Yoni sought to educate schools, community members and international tourists about the importance of looking after these complex ecosystems.  

In order to gain knowledge and skills in science communication, Yoni has volunteered with CSIRO, Parks Victoria and Zoos Victoria and various animal rescue shelters around Victoria. She has developed field and research skills from volunteering with Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and from working as a Field Ecologist for Deakin University. Yoni is keen to learn with the experienced team at the Conservation Ecology Centre. She aims to develop more skills in threatened species management, fire ecology and understanding the interactions of flora and fauna  species in the Otway region.

Sam Girvan

2020 Intern

Sam is interning at the Conservation Ecology Centre to gain practical applied conservation research experience. She is keen to pursue a career in threatened species management, particularly within programs that utilise scientific research, traditional knowledge and community engagement. She has a background in science communication as the Social Media Coordinator at Remember The Wild, a nature connection charity.

Sam recently completed a Master of Science (Ecology and Evolution) at the University of Melbourne, researching the potential interactions between reef building coral microbes. She gained a range of volunteer experience throughout her studies, including interning at the Dolphin Research Institute and deploying camera traps, monitoring smoky mice in the Victorian Alps with Museums Victoria. Sam is enjoying the diversity of projects she has worked on so far, from koala population monitoring to animal husbandry and is looking forward to learning more about the unique ecosystems of the Otways.

Tamika Farley-Lehmar

2019 Intern

Tamika is a passionate graduate who is interested in ecosystem dynamics and interactions. After graduating from Monash University with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology, Tamika went on to complete her Honours, which focussed on how nutrition mediates thermal stress response in Drosophila. During her degree and in the time following, she has added to her field and research related skills through various volunteer and paid opportunities both within Australia and internationally.

Since completing her studies she has completed a season as a Project Fire Fighter with Forest Fire Management Victoria, building her practical field skills and land management knowledge. Working around fire has sparked an interest in fire related research and post fire habitats, something she hopes to nurture with the Conservation Ecology Centre and build on in her future.

Annabel Ellis

2019 Intern

Annabel graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) (Hons – 1st Class) majoring in Biology in 2017. Her honours project investigated the impact of invasive black rats (Rattus rattus) on an endangered rainforest island community near Wollongong, NSW. After completing university, she worked as a research assistant in the Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Research Group at the University of Sydney studying chemical camouflage as a way to protect vulnerable prey from alien predators. Additionally, during her studies she completed a summer research scholarship at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment studying microbiology in koalas. She has also volunteered for a number of environmental organisations including as a fieldwork volunteer collecting data on endangered lizards in the Blue Mountains, as a local bush care volunteer and as a guest experiences volunteer at Taronga Zoo, Sydney.

Although a native Sydney-sider, Annabel is keen to learn more about ecological issues impacting Victorian communities, and in particular the beautiful Otway Ranges. She hopes to enhance her fieldwork skills with some flora and fauna identification and radio-tracking skills, as well as learning more analytical skills in R and GIS.

Maggie Campbell-Jones

2019 Intern

Maggie recently graduated from La Trobe University with a Bachelor of Biological Science (Hons) majoring in Ecology. Her honours project focused the recovery of arboreal or ‘tree dwelling’ mammal populations a decade after the 2009 Black Saturday fires, with a specific focus on the role fire severity plays in this recovery. Maggie gained experience from a range of volunteer opportunities throughout her undergraduate degree, including public engagement at Melbourne Zoo and as a volunteer field assistant for Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater.

Maggie is looking forward to gaining more experience with the team at the Conservation Ecology Centre. She is excited to further develop skills in landscape management, science communication and see more of the beautiful Cape Otway and its inhabitants.

Nina Page

2019 Intern

Nina graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Hons) majoring in Conservation Biology in November 2018. Her honours project examined the habitat use and ranging behaviour of koala populations in blue gum plantations in far southwest Victoria. While undertaking her undergraduate degree Nina was able to volunteer on a number of projects to enhance her fieldwork and research skills. She spent 4 weeks on a game reserve in South Africa where she assisted with conservation programs and community outreach. She was also a regular volunteer at Moonlit Sanctuary in Victoria, where she gained experience in native animal husbandry and threatened species management. She currently works in the Visitor Services department with Zoos Victoria, where her role allows her to engage with the community on conservation issues.

Nina is excited to join the Conservation Ecology Centre team and assist them with the varied conservation projects currently being undertaken in Cape Otway. She hopes to enhance her fieldwork and analytical skills during her internship, while gaining knowledge of the beautiful wildlife and habitats in the region.

Chantelle Geissler

2019 Intern

Chantelle is an aspiring conservationist with a passion for Australian wildlife and ecology. Growing up in Sydney, she was always looking for ways to connect with nature and the world around her. This fascination led her to complete a Bachelor of Arts with Bachelor of Science majoring in Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. After a period of travelling around the world, Chantelle returned to Macquarie University to complete a Master of Conservation Biology, graduating in mid-2018.

Whilst studying, she was able to undertake various volunteer and field work opportunities that helped her gain more experience. She spent a period volunteering in Western Australia, for the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, where she was involved in gathering data on nesting turtle populations on the Ningaloo Coast.

Chantelle has recently returned to Australia, having completed an internship in South Africa on a Big-5 game reserve. She is excited to join the Conservation Ecology Centre and hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the conservation issues faced in the Otways region.

Aviya Naccarella

2019 Intern

Aviya has a passion for ecology and is interested in landscape scale processes. She hopes to use her passion for the environment to engage communities to work towards common conservation goals.

Aviya recently graduated from La Trobe University with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) having completed her undergraduate degree at Monash University majoring in Ecology and Conservation Biology. She undertook her honours in the alpine and subalpine regions of Victoria investigating changes in the spatial and temporal dynamics of alpine and subalpine treelines in response to recent warming and bushfire occurrence. Throughout her undergraduate degree Aviya volunteered as a research assistant on a number of projects across south east Australia building field skills and gaining experience in fauna and flora surveying.

Through the CEC internship Aviya hopes to gain further research and analytical skills, and experience in science communication and land management.

Ellie Kirke

2019 Intern

Ellie recently graduated from the University of Queensland, with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) majoring in Ecology and Zoology. Her honours project involved working with the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) on Groote Eylandt, located in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This unique island is one of the few safe havens for these endangered animals, mainly due to the lack of cane toads and continuation of traditional fire regimes. Here, she studied the interplay between performance, morphology and habitat by looking at how different aspects of performance (i.e. agility, jumping, sprinting, accelerating, climbing and grasping) varied intraspecifically between two habitat types; rocky outcrops and open sclerophyll forest. Her findings suggested that some aspects of female performance were optimised in particular habitats (e.g. sprint speed was greater in open habitat), but that morphology was not the cause of variation. This is the first mammalian study to look at performance, morphology and habitat in concert, and was a great introduction into the field of research science.

Ellie’s passion for animals and the environment has also taken her to South Africa, where she volunteered as a research assistant translocating white lions from a hunting facility to a safe farm. Working so closely with such an amazing animal was an unforgettable experience, and she hopes to have many more moments like that throughout her life.

During her internship at the Cape Otway Ecology Centre, Ellie hopes to gain more experience in ecological surveying, fire and land management and active conservation methods. She strongly believes that wildlife conservation is of the utmost importance in the face of feral predators, climate change and population growth, and is excited to work alongside ecologists at the CEC that are so passionate and driven.

Hannah Thomas

2019 Intern

Hannah recently graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hons) majoring in Ecology.

In her Honours project she compared the diets of the endangered northern quoll in the two main habitat types on Groote Eylandt – a cane toad free island in the Northern Territory which is a stronghold for this endangered species. She found that the quolls in the woodlands ate a wider variety of foods than those in the rocky habitat including more vegetation, which could have implications for the management of this species on the mainland.

She has also volunteered as a research assistant on Christmas Island, to monitor the effect of invasive black rats on the nesting success of endemic island birds; helped deploy camera traps to monitor feral dog populations on Queensland Trust for Nature properties; and trapped northern bettongs in North Queensland with WWF and James Cook University.

Originally from Scotland, Hannah comes to the CEC after spending time in both Cairns and Brisbane. Throughout her internship with the Conservation Ecology Centre, Hannah hopes to further her skills in land management, field work and science communication. She is passionate about being involved in wildlife conservation and the Otways region is the perfect place to do this, with a combination of amazing wildlife and complex conservation challenges.

Andrea Stiglingh

2018 Intern

Andrea completed her Bachelors of Science (Natural Resources) and Bachelors of Soil Science (Honours) degrees at the University of Adelaide in 2017 and 2018. Andrea has a real passion for the environment and a love for learning which has driven her involvement in conservation research, habitat restoration work and species management. Prior to taking up her role as an intern at the Conservation Ecology Centre, Andrea assisted with animal and vegetation surveys as a volunteer with the Scientific Exploration Group (SEG), BioR and the University of Adelaide. She is an active volunteer at Cleland Wildlife Park, assisting with the care of resident koalas and works casually as a research assistant in the School of Biology at the University of Adelaide. Andrea aspires to use her time at the Conservation Ecology Centre to enhance her science communication, animal handling and research skills in the hopes of making a positive impact/contribution in the fields of native species management and community education as she pursues a career in conservation.

Ben Lake

2018 Intern

Ben is from Kalbarri, a small town in the mid-west of WA situated on the bank of the Murchison River, which is surrounded by national park. Growing up there he developed a deep passion for the outdoors and the natural environments. He followed his passion and studied Environmental Science and Botany at UWA and completed honours in Fire Ecology. After spending time away from ecology and environmental work he met his partner while snowboarding in Canada and moved to Victoria where he is endeavouring to develop a career in ecology and environmental management. Ben has been enchanted by the cool wet forests of the Otways as it is such a contrast to the semi-arid scrub he grew up in, he jumped on the opportunity do work with the Conservation Ecology Centre. Ben is ecstatic about deepening his knowledge about the challenges and developing his skills needed for conservation and management of the Otways.

Zahlia Payne

2018 Intern

Zahlia is an aspiring ecologist, with an interest in the impact of natural and anthropogenic disturbances, namely fire and land use changes, to Australian biodiversity. She has volunteered with a number of conservation and research projects across Australia, and studied the effects of fire on mammal communities of south-west Victoria for her Honours year. Growing up near the Otways, Zahlia is looking forward to learning more about the local flora and fauna, as well as the current conservation issues of this region.

Erin Harris

2018 Intern

Erin grew up in Tasmania and has always been passionate about wildlife and nature conservation. She completed a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Zoology at the University of Tasmania and went on to do a Masters of Environmental Management. Erin’s main research interests are within biodiversity conservation, anthropogenic disturbances and environmental management. Through many years volunteering with different research projects Erin has gained a wide range of field skills particularly within ecological flora and fauna monitoring. She has also spent many years working directly with some of Tasmania’s most unique species, such as the Tasmanian Devil and eastern quoll, as part of important breeding programmes. Her internship with the Conservation Ecology Centre will not only provide Erin with the amazing opportunity to live in such a beautiful part of the world, but it will also enhance her field and research skills and increase her knowledge of the conservation challenges in the Otways.

Hannah Kilen

2018 Intern

Hannah grew up in Perth and has always been interested in nature and the environment. She studied Conservation Biology and Zoology at the University of Western Australia and completed Honours in 2015. The Honours project explored the function of the Southern Brown Bandicoot as an ecosystem engineer on the Swan Coastal Plain. Bandicoots are important agents of soil turnover/biopedturbation. Hannah found the effect of their diggings differed slightly in different habitat types, and that their diggings could potentially play an important role in post-fire environments. Since finishing university, Hannah has been working at Perth Zoo in the native species breeding program, breeding threatened native species for release back into wild habitats. She also takes part in conservation volunteer projects whenever possible, most regularly assisting in fauna monitoring and revegetation projects on Rottnest Island. Hannah says the Otways seem like such an incredible environment to be able to work in and during the internship she’s looking forward to building on her knowledge of wildlife monitoring and research, and developing her skills with a whole new range of species.

Lauren Halstead

2018 Intern

Growing up near the Mornington Peninsula, Lauren spent a lot of time outdoors and this is where her love for nature began. She completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science with honours at Deakin University. Her honours project focused on the ecosystem engineering potential of the Victorian subspecies of Eastern Barred Bandicoots, a species that is extinct in the wild. Completing this project has sparked Lauren’s interest in the role digging mammals play in restoring ecosystem function, an area she hopes to assist with further research. Lauren has volunteered on many research/conservation projects, both locally and internationally, which have helped her develop skills in various wildlife monitoring techniques. The Conservation Ecology Centre provides Lauren with the opportunity to further enhance these skills and gain a range of new ones.

Giselle Owens

2018 Intern

Giselle first connected with the Conservation Ecology Centre as a park ranger in the Eastern Otways.  Giselle studied Wildife & Conservation Biology (B.Sc) at La Trobe University and has worked in National Parks across Victoria since 2012. Passion for the environment and its conservation drives Giselle and motivated her to pursue a career as an ecologist. She has garnered an array of ecological field skills both as a ranger and as a research assistant/volunteer on various projects including: a bird-study in the Brazilian Amazon assessing the abundance of bird species on the edge of deforestation, the Mountain Pygmy Possum recovery project in the Victorian Alps, seagrass monitoring and marine invasive species surveys in Corner Inlet, and mist-netting migratory birds in Alaska. Following her internship with CEC, Giselle intends to complete a Masters of Environment (University of Melbourne) and work on ecological projects in Australia focussing on habitat protection, threatened species recovery and feral animal management.

Sarah Leeson

Intern 2017

Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Zoology at the University of Western Australia in 2016. She has spent the past year volunteering with a variety of conservation organisations around Australia, before joining the Conservation Ecology Centre as an intern. Having grown up in Western Australia, the cool temperate rainforest of Cape Otway presents a beautiful change of scenery, a variety of new species, and a definite drop in temperature. For Sarah, joining the Conservation Ecology Centre is an exciting opportunity to develop new skills, work in a stunning landscape, and gain an understanding of the conservation issues facing the Otways. Sarah has a keen interest in conservation genetics, and hopes to pursue a career in research following her time at the Conservation Ecology Centre.


Sam Fischer

Intern 2017

Growing up on a property in the Flinders Ranges, Sam has developed a great respect for the Australian landscape and its unique flora and fauna. Since completing a Bachelor of Science with the University of Adelaide, Sam has travelled the county, working alongside conservation groups such as Arid Recovery and Australian Wildlife Conservancy, assisting in research projects with the University of Adelaide UNSW, and promoting the natural world as a tour guide. These opportunities have provided Sam with a wide range of field skills, including radio-tracking, trapping, fitting radio collars, remote camera monitoring, vegetation surveying and a keen eye for species identification. Sam has a passion for threatened species recovery, reintroduction ecology, animal behaviour, and scientific communication.


Shelley Thompson

Intern 2017

Shelley grew up in Mildura, in the Mallee region and gained her love of Australian flora and fauna from her time spent wandering about the bush. She studied a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behaviour at Flinders University. In 2016, she conducted her honours project on the Gidgee Skink, exploring the role of chemical social signalling in habitat selection and how family members can recognise each other thought their scats. In 2017 Shelley worked for a landcare consultant where she conducted fox baiting programs and rabbit impact assessments to help restore regenerating habitat areas. Shelley is currently working as an intern with the Conservation Ecology Centre. She is assisting with our annual koala surveys, and the collection of camera traps for fox baiting impact assessments, associated with the Otway Ark project. Shelley is eager to pursue her career in ecological research and conservation following her time with CEC.

Asitha Samarawickrama

Intern 2017

Asitha is an Environmental Science graduate of the University of Melbourne. He has worked as a consultant and ranger prior to joining the Conservation Ecology Centre. Asitha is also the State Coordinator for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Program in Victoria. In this role he visits schools, giving presentations on conservation campaigns, empowering youth to create positive change for our environment and attending forums and seminars. He loves the variety of work at the CEC, and how each day is different. In his spare time he likes to spend time outdoors and play sport. Originally from Sri Lanka, one of Asitha’s long term goals is to find solutions to human-elephant conflict in his motherland.


Emma Birnbaum

Intern 2017

Emma completed a Bachelor of Conservation Biology and Ecology, from La Trobe University. She then went on to complete her honours project on the abiotic effects of jumping in Jack Jumper ants. Since completing her studies, Emma has continued to broaden her skill set and knowledge through volunteering on a wide variety of projects both in Australia and overseas. Her past few years were spent living in Europe, and whilst the travel and change served her well, the lure of an internship at the Conservation Ecology Centre was more than enough to bring her back to Australia and her beloved Otways. Emma now feels her challenges and future lie at home where she would like to continue working in research and conservation within Australia, and more specifically, the Otway region.

Madeline Brenker

Intern 2016

Madeline has completed a Master of Science with a major in Botany in 2014 at the University of Melbourne, following a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecology and Environmental Biology in 2012. Enamoured post-studies and from volunteering, Madeline worked as a research assistant and ecologist undertaking mammal population viability analyses, surveying from the Alpine high plains to temperate rainforest and arid scrub, in SE Australia marine research, blue carbon management and planning Green-infrastructure to combat sea level rise. During her CEC internship, she supported the Otways Conservation Dog deployments, built bird-song recognisers, analysed floristic community-dynamics and undertook rare orchid sampling, post-fire vegetation surveys, animal husbandry, and weed management. Continuing her conservation and ecological research Madeline hopes to travel the world and work towards a more sustainable future.

Jarrad Barnes

Intern 2016

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in 2009, Jarrad spent five months on a conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon, giving him hands-on experience with handling and rehabilitating rainforest wildlife. This encouraged him to pursue a degree in Biodiversity and Conservation from Macquarie University, during which time he worked as a reptile husbandry volunteer, research assistant on a floodplain ecology project, and ran an undergraduate project assessing the recolonisation of the university campus by small forest birds. Since completing this degree in 2015 Jarrad has worked as an ecologist in western NSW, and radio tracking bandicoots for a reintroduction project in Jervis Bay. Following his CEC internship Jarrad hopes to become involved with mammal management and reintroduction programs both in Australia and around the world.