The Team

Nekton is run by a core team of management and staff combining world-class experience across scientific research, multidisciplinary marine research expeditions, submersible operations, multi-platform content creation and distribution, marketing and communications.

Oliver Steeds,

Chief Executive, Mission Director

Oliver Steeds is the Founder of Nekton and leads the management and development of the organisation, Mission strategy and operations. He is a submersible pilot, ‘a leading British ocean explorer’, a critically acclaimed broadcast journalist with ABC, NBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channels and others, and formerly a Director of Brunswick. He is co-founder of Encounter EDU including the Ocean’s Academy.

Dr. Lucy Woodall,

Principal Scientist

Lucy is a marine biologist with a passion for the aquatic world. Her PhD on the conservation genetics of European seahorses provided valuable research for captive breeding and international monitoring programmes. While her work broadly focuses on the processes that drive biodiversity in the marine biome, including the impacts of human activities, she has also worked in coastal and deep sea habitats and is an expert in marine litter. Her microplastics research was the first to reveal the ubiquity of this pollutant in the deep sea which led to further work on marine debris in our most remote oceans. She leads the scientific research at Nekton, sits on the IUCN SSC for seahorses and pipefish, and provides expert opinion for international marine management organization and national governments. Lucy was also a scientific advisor to the BBC Blue Planet II Series.

Belinda Bramley,

Head of Impact

As Head of Impact, Belinda leads Nekton’s capacity development and ocean governance programmes. Our goal is to co-create opportunities with partner countries to develop marine science skills, knowledge and networks to empower locally-led sustainable ocean governance. Prior to joining Nekton, Belinda worked as CFO for environmental NGOs the Global Canopy Programme and Earthwatch and was one of the founding trustees for the Global Canopy Programme. Belinda is a chartered accountant and committed conservationist. After qualifying as an accountant with KPMG in 1990 she worked for ten years in investment banking and treasury roles, before pursuing a career in the conservation sector.

Luke Ansell,

Head of Marine Operations

Luke is an expert in designing, implementing and leading complex offshore and subsea operations including large multi-vessel campaigns. From West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Middle East to the North Sea, Luke brings 15 years of global experience with clients including James Fishers, Dong Energy (Orsted), VBMS and Reach Engineering. Luke is also a hugely experienced commercial diver, and owns and operates a specialist subsea management consultancy www.subseaconsultants.co.uk.

Will West,

Head of Content

Will leads the Communications team and is a self- shooting producer and director with over 15 years of experience making documentaries for international broadcast. He started his career in wildlife film-making, working extensively in southern Africa before moving into Current Affairs with a specialism in challenging and hostile environments. He has filmed in over 15 countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia, and has experience in aerial filming, working off-shore with the coast-guard, military and police and in undercover work. He is also an experienced stills photographer and an avid yacht racer.

Dr Paris Stefanoudis,

Postdoctoral Researcher

Paris is a marine biologist fascinated by the largest environment on planet Earth: the oceans. His PhD investigated the effects of ultra-deep underwater mountains on tiny sediment-living organisms, known as foraminifera. In the past couple of years his research has focused on shallow and deep reef communities from (sub)tropical locations. Having participated in three research cruises in the NE Atlantic he has experience with seagoing procedures and biological sampling. While his general research interests lie in documenting the distribution patterns of marine life in the ocean and identifying the underlying environmental factors shaping those, he has also worked on freshwater environments and riverine plastic pollution. Currently, he is managing Nekton’s laboratory research in Oxford, and Nekton's social media accounts. He is also the student officer of the Deep-Sea Biology Society and part of the editorial team of the INDEEP/DOSI/DSBS-led newsletter Deep-Sea Life.

Betina Frinault,

Research Scientist, Machine Learning & AI

Betina Frinault is a Marine Biologist and Ecologist. Captivated by the oceans her passion/aim is to discover and understand biodiversity hosted within their conjugated ecosystems from the shallows to the deepest marine environments.

Her current research focuses on machine assisted learning to help develop expedient analysis of vast marine fauna-image data, as captured by remote and autonomous vehicles, and so to catalogue marine communities.

Betina’s prior studies have most recently focused on seabed fauna discovery and documenting of South West Indian Ocean seamounts, deep sea mining, and the human impact on Antarctic marine environments and ecosystem services. Betina is a member of the "Antarctic Futures" consortium and is a participant on the Oxford-NERC DTP programme originating research with Dr Lucy Woodall and Prof Chris Lintott.

Molly Rivers

Laboratory Manager

Molly is a Marine Biology graduate from Plymouth University whose research interests lie in zooplankton community structure from the surface to aphotic depths and taxonomic skills in copepod diversity. She has also researched quantitative methodologies for analysing pelagic microplastics. Molly has worked for Nekton for the past two years analysing video and zooplankton data from Bermuda during Mission I, and she currently manages the lab whilst playing a vital role in the planning of First Descent.

During the upcoming expedition to the Seychelles Molly will be leading the sampling of zooplankton using multi depth and surface sampling nets whilst also leading the processing and taxonomy of zooplankton samples.

Denise Swanborn

Doctoral Research Scientist

Denise is a PhD student under the Oxford-NERC Doctoral Training Partnership and is interested in using new technologies for the study of deep ocean biodiversity. Her research focuses on applying existing and developing new tools to make 3D visualisations of deep ocean environments. She uses these to study the relationship between habitat characteristics and biodiversity in the deep ocean. Denise is a marine biologist by training and previous research focused on restoration of tropical reefs and mangroves in the Caribbean and West-Central Africa. Her interest in new technologies for the environment led her to work in sustainable energy technology prior to joining Nekton’s scientific team as a PhD student.

Alex Murphy

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.

Lisa Hynes,

Head Of Communications

As Head of Communications at Nekton, Lisa leads the delivery and development of communications activities at Mission HQ in Oxford. Formally a producer and executive producer in television, she spent over 20 years creating content for major broadcasters, brands, news outlets and social media platforms. From working on major Emmy award winning documentary programs at the BBC to making one minute films for instagram, telling stories and making sure they are noticed has been at the heart of her career.

Sarah Hammond,

Digital Content Producer

A recent graduate from Oxford Brookes with a First in BSc Digital Media Production, Sarah has previously worked on busy live sports productions and motion capture productions for feature films and video games. She is hugely excited about the opportunity at Nekton to grow Nekton's digital online presence and to spread the word about the pioneering work we are doing here.