Our People

About Us > 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

CEO and Founder

Lizzie graduated from Melbourne University in 2000 with a degree in Zoology. She founded the Conservation Ecology Centre with her partner Shayne to help protect the Otways, and inspire and educate others about conservation. In 2005 she was named the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year (the first female and youngest-ever recipient of the award). In 2007 Lizzie and Shayne were also recognised by the Australian Geographic Society with the prestigious Conservation Award for dedication to protecting Victoria’s threatened wildlife through rehabilitation, conservation and education. Lizzie is a Director of Ecotourism Australia and Chair of the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority Community Advisory Group. She is currently studying via correspondence through the Queensland University of Technology.

Shayne Neal

Founder and Infrastructure Manager

Shayne complemented his Diploma in Wilderness Reserves and Wildlife Management from Queensland University with a degree in Natural Resource Management from Melbourne University. 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 partner Lizzie Corke. To assist in delivering the mission, Lizzie and Shayne created the Great Ocean Ecolodge in 2004. The Ecolodge is a social enterprise, named by National Geographic Traveler as one of the 25 best ecolodges in the world and a Finalist in the National Geographic Society World Legacy Awards. Shayne is also the 2013, 2014 & 2015 Australian Ploughing Champion.

Mark Le Pla

Conservation & Research Assistant

Mark grew up in the eucalypt forests of South East Queensland and completed his Bachelor of Science (Ecology and Conservation Biology) with Honours from Griffith University in 2012. Building on the field skills he acquired through his honours project, a project focusing on birds and floristic features of Eucalypt woodlands, and volunteering for multiple PhD students, he has undertaken bird surveys in a wide array of locations including the rainforests of North Queensland, the Savanna Woodlands of Kakadu National Park and the Mallee country of SW NSW. Mark completed an internship at the CEC in 2014/15, followed by an internship with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) based at Scotia Sanctuary. During this time, Mark broadened his experience and skill set in working with small to medium sized mammals having undertaken several ecological surveys to assess the health and status of several threatened wildlife found in the feral free area of Scotia such as Bilbies, Burrowing Bettongs and Bridled Nailtail Wallabies. He gained valuable experience in arid/semi-arid ecology and the devastating impact feral animals such as cats and foxes have had upon the mammal assemblages of these areas. Mark was then lucky enough to be asked to return to Scotia as a contract Field Ecologist for the rest of 2015. Following this, Mark secured a third internship with Ecological Horizons based in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National park to assist with field work relating to the reintroduction of Western Quolls and Brush-tailed Possums. Throughout late 2015 – early 2016, Mark spent several months’ radio tracking collared animals, capturing animals for health/collar checks, trapping feral animals and assessing camera trapping data. Finally, Mark re-joined the CEC team in early February 2016 as an Ecologist to assist with the CEC’s ongoing conservation works in addition to helping to deliver one of the most exciting projects to date, the Otways Threatened Species Research Network.

Dr Jack Pascoe

Conservation & Research Manager

Jack joined the Conservation Ecology Centre in 2012 to manage the ever growing Conservation Programs. Jack grew up at Cape Otway before leaving to study Science at Deakin University and going on to complete his PhD with the University of Western Sydney where he studied the ecology of predators in the Blue Mountains. His key fields of expertise are conservation and wildlife biology and previous research topics have included wild dog ecology, lace monitor home range, the distribution of large forest owls and the interactions of exotic predators with native carnivores like the Tiger Quoll. Immediately prior to joining the CEC, Jack worked with one of our project partners, the Southern Otway Landcare Network, primarily focusing on mitigating the impacts of pest plants and animals throughout the Otways. Jack is Chair of the Otway Community Conservation Network, is President of the Hordern Vale Glenaire Landcare Group, Vice President of Southern Otway Landcare Network and a member of the Expert Panel advising The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Karlijn Sas

Events & Ecolodge Manger

Karlijn manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with her partner Steve. She also co-ordinates the Conservation Ecology Centre’s program of events, including the hugely successful Art & Ecology program. This annual exhibition celebrates some of the most rare and fragile inhabitants of the Otways through art – contributed by local artists. And monies raised from the sale of the artworks contribute to the Conservation Ecology Centre’s research programs. Karlijn has a Master of Science in Cultural Studies and has transformed the Gallery of The Great Ocean Ecolodge that now features many of the threatened species in the Otways. She is a people-person and along with Steve truly enjoys spending time with Ecolodge guests to assist in their itinerary so they get most out of their stay in the Otway forests.

Stephan Ras

Administration & Ecolodge Manager

Steve manages the Great Ocean Ecolodge with his partner Karlijn. He’s also expert at all things admin and helps ensure that the Conservation Ecology Centre functions as effectively and efficiently as possible. Stephan has a Master of Science in Educational Studies and feels right at home with his management skills. He enjoys engaging with guests about all that the area and the Conservation Ecology Centre has to offer. Both Steve and Karlijn are dedicated to communicating the work of the Conservation Ecology Centre and Lizzie and Shayne’s work in creating it. They have a passion for eco-tourism, sustainability, and developing an interesting guest experience with local products such as wines, beers, coffee, tea, and homegrown vegetables on site.

Toni Stevens

Communication Coordinator

Toni is a science communicator with a passion for conservation and ecology. She treasures her time in the Otways and loves helping to share the experience with others though media, social media, online, and in person. She believes sharing 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 Canberrra and spent her honours year studying the habits of the endangered Grassland Earless Dragon. When she’s not in the Otways she can be found at Melbourne science PR firm Science in Public, or volunteering with Intrepid Landcare.

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.