Nekton is run by a core team of management and staff combining world-class experience across scientific research, marine operations, ocean policy, knowledge exchange, multi-platform content creation and distribution, marketing and communications.
Chief Executive, Mission Director
Oliver Steeds is the Founder of Nekton and leads the management and development of the organisation and field operations. Formerly he was a critically acclaimed broadcast journalist with ABC, NBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channels and others. He is co-founder of Encounter EDU including the Ocean’s Academy.
Dr. Lucy Woodall,
Lucy leads the scientific research at Nekton and is an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter. She is a marine biologist with a passion for sharing the delights and importance of the aquatic world with global citizens. While her work broadly focuses on the processes that drive biodiversity in the ocean, she is interested in understanding the impacts of human activities on these ecosystems. She provides expert opinion on marine conservation and sustainable marine management, and is a member of many applied working groups such as the High Level Panel Expert Group for the UN on Sustainable Ocean Economy, IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group and the DOSI pollution and debris Working Group and gives talks at public events throughout the year.
Finance and Operations Controller
Alex is responsible for Nekton’s financial and operational management. After starting her career in practice she soon developed a taste for business and commerce and now has thirty years of finance experience spanning a wide variety of commercial organizations and industries, including advertising, publishing, retail, design, architecture and more recently capital delivery in the UK water industry and construction engineering.
Nekton Science & Knowledge Exchange Programme Manager
Sheena Talma is a marine scientist from Seychelles with a keen interest in learning more about how we use the ocean and the implications of overfishing marine pollution and climate change in that relationship. Sheena holds a post-graduate degree in fisheries and ichthyology. Prior to this she worked for the Ministry of Environment Energy and Climate Change in Seychelles working towards environmental sustainability.
Dr Paris Stefanoudis,
Paris is a marine biologist fascinated by the largest environment on planet Earth: the ocean. His general research interests lie in documenting the distribution patterns of marine life in the ocean and identifying the underlying environmental factors shaping those. Part of his research portfolio has included biodiversity assessments of ultra-deep underwater mountains in the NE Atlantic, shallow and deep water reef biodiversity in Bermuda, and plastic pollution in the Thames Estuary. At present, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the Nekton Research Group at the University of Oxford, and his main research focus is benthic and fish community structure and connectivity across depth in tropical coral reef ecosystems. In other capacities, he is the communications officer of the Deep-Sea Biology Society and part of the editorial team of the INDEEP/DOSI/DSBS-led newsletter Deep-Sea Life.
Nuria Rico Seijo
Nuria is a marine biologist whose research interest is focused on identifying zooplankton communities from the epipelagic to the benthic zone. She has researched zooplankton communities from the Iberian Peninsula, the Gullmarsfjorden on the west coast of Sweden and the Seychelles. She has also co-lead the assessment of the presence of microplastics in the Weddell Sea with an international and multi-disciplinary team. In addition to this, Nuria curates and manages the samples collected on Nekton's expeditions.
Dr Denise Swanborn
Expedition Manager & PhD scientist
Denise is Nekton’s Expedition Manager for the Nekton Maldives Mission. She works across multiple aspects of the expedition, including project management, logistics, marine operations, science, communications and partner activities. She conducted her PhD at the University of Oxford in collaboration with Nekton, working with datasets from First Descent: Seychelles and under the supervision of Lucy. Her research focuses on the relationship between deep seabed structure and the occurrence and distribution of biodiversity, and she enjoys working with a variety of technological tools and analytical techniques. Denise also holds a MSc in Biodiversity Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford, and a BSc in Biology from Utrecht University.
Creative Content Producer
Sarah is a seasoned Creative Content Producer at Nekton, with a rich background in Digital Media Production with wide-ranging experience in television, film, and gaming. By gathering footage of previously unexplored depths of the ocean, and sharing the stories of scientists and conservationists working to better understand and conserve it, Sarah creates compelling content for Nekton and Ocean Census’ high-profile expeditions, and throughout the scientific studies that follow. Moreover, Sarah wears another hat as a social media consultant for Yachts for Science to guide the program in effectively communicating its mission to a wider audience. Through her lens, she brings to life the riveting stories of scientists and conservationists dedicated to unraveling the ocean's secrets and safeguarding its fragile ecosystems.
Currently working as Nekton Maldives Mission’s Research Assistant at the MMRI, Farah is a Maldivian marine researcher with over eight years of experience in the field. Her primary area of work has been coral reef ecology and conservation science, and most of her work has focused on coral reef health monitoring and restoration. Her current research interests include GIS habitat mapping, biodiversity assessments as well as the investigation of spatial and vertical connectivity of epibenthic and megafauna communities. Farah has worked with environmental consultancy firms and conservation organisations such as Manta Trust and Olive Ridley Project to study marine species' population dynamics and conduct awareness and outreach programmes with local non-governmental organisations. She is a Reefcheck Eco-diver trainer and conducts citizen-science-focused training at her local dive school and on safari boats. Farah received a fellowship from the Earthwatch Institute in 2017 for the project "Coral communities in the Seychelles" and participated in research on the Seychelles islands of Praslin and Curieuse. In 2019, she also won the Earthwatch Shulman award and received a one-year research study grant focused on early-career scientists. Farah holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Management focusing on marine ecology and is currently finishing her MSc in Int. Marine Science at Heriot-watt University, Edinburgh. Farah is an avid scuba diver with PADI Divemaster and PADI Sidemount certifications and a member of the International Coral Reef Society.
Nina de Villiers
Nina de Villiers is a marine biologist from South Africa with a passion for discovery, conservation and science communication. She holds a Masters in marine biology which focused on the impact artificial structures had on fish and benthic invertebrate communities. Prior to this she was a research assistant investigating density and distribution of two endangered syngnathid species as well as a number of estuarine ecological studies. She is a keen explorer of rock shores and loves to find marine species. She is a qualified Class IV Commercial diver and loves to share the marine environment with others through underwater photography.