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.

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 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.

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.

Betina Frinault,

Research Scientist, Machine Learning & AI

Betina Frinault is a Marine Biologist and Ecologist. Her most recent research has focused on community-analysis of Southwest Indian Ocean seamounts, climate-change impacts on the Southern Ocean (Pew Charitable Trusts), and deep-sea exploration of the Weddell Sea, Antarctica (Flotilla Foundation).

Betina is a researcher at the University of Oxford (NERC DTP) working in both Departments of Zoology and Physics, and applies machine learning to develop new methodologies for marine-fauna analysis.

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

Sarah graduated from Oxford Brookes with a First in BSc Digital Media Production, she has previously worked on busy live sports productions and motion capture productions for feature films and video games. Sarah’s role at Nekton is to to grow our digital online presence by creating, cultivating, and producing content for our social media channels, website, and partners.


JAN VANDROL

GEOSPATIAL SOFTWARE DEVELOPER

Jan is a Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist with interests in water and water environments. During his PhD at Cranfield University he worked on river monitoring methods, using autonomous boats, image analysis and 3D modelling. In his previous projects, he worked on coastal navigation systems, flood prediction systems and habitat modelling. Jan's role at Nekton is the development of OcToPUS, a spatial database and a mapping server as well as preparation of spatio-temporal analyses for oceanic research.