Meet the team

Meet the minds and passion behind Indo Ocean Project. We are proud of our expertise and diversity, which combined has developed this award-winning internship and research program.

Project Staff

Lauren Sparks

Founding Director

Lauren founded Indo Ocean Project in 2017 combining her passion for teaching diving and marine research. Originally from Canada she has spent the last 10 years living in Indonesia. She become a dive professional in 2007 and spent the next few years working and sailing in the Caribbean, Canada, Australia, and South Pacific. Her background is in biology and theatre with a focus on marine policy and it’s effects on megafauna and fisheries targeted species. With over 15 years in the diving industry she is also the co-founder of dive centres and other marine conservation NGO’s globally.

Serena Stean

Program Director

Serena is an award-winning PADI IDC Staff Instructor & SSI Master Instructor with over 1000 certifications. She has been working in diving for the last 10 years, 7 of those directly involved in marine conservation, with a focus on marine megafauna and elasmobranchs. She spent 2 years working at the world’s greatest shark dive in Fiji where she worked on BRUV research in the Beqa Lagoon. She’s also a published underwater photographer and is responsible for developing and organising the Indo Ocean Project curriculum. 

Pascal Sebastian

Scientific Director and Lead Marine Biologist

Pascal comes from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and completed his masters degree at James Cook University in Australia, with a focus on coral and bryozoan taxonomy. Before joining Indo Ocean Project he previously published 2 papers and successfully identified 6 new species of bryozoans. Pascal is also an experienced dive instructor with over 6 years diving in the Penida MPA. He plans to use the research at Indo Ocean Project to complete his PhD and is the driving force behind CorAlliance and all of Indo Ocean Project’s research and publications. 

Penida Project

Michaela Dudasova

Penida Project Manager and Divemaster Instructor

Michaela grew up in Slovakia but spent 14 years working in a corporate setting in Ireland before leaving it all behind to focus on a career in conservation and diving. She has traveled the world as a recreational diver and moved to Indonesia to complete her Divemaster program with Indo Ocean Project. She is one of our first Divemaster Trainee’s and was hired on full time as program coordinator. After 4 years with Indo Ocean Project Michaela has become a PADI and SSI instructor and is now the manager of the Penida Project. She is also co-founder of the Indo Ocean Project and Bamboo partnership and manages admissions and travel for all incoming interns.

Rinaldi Gotama

Marine Biologist and Data Analyst 

Rinaldi is originally from Jakarta but spent most of his adult life in Hong Kong where he graduated with a degree in Biology from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2017. He started diving in 2016 and joined Indo Ocean Project as a divemaster and research diver intern in early 2022. His background and skills in data analysis and research made him a perfect fit for the team and he started working for Indo Ocean Project in June 2022. His current interest is how water quality and fish assemblage is effected by human impact in coastal communities. He is a passionate underwater photographer and always up for a chat about macro critters, data analysis, new research projects, and teaching Bahasa Indonesian.  

I Nengah Swarya (Arya)

Community Outreach Manager and Penida Program Coordinator

Arya comes from our very own Nusa Penida island and has been working alongside IOP as a Dive Guide in Penida’s waters for more than 3 years. He is one of the founding members of the CorAlliance project and is Pascal’s right hand man. Arya completed his divemaster with Indo Ocean Project in 2021, is responsible for the incoming interns refresher pool sessions, Dive Against Debris, CoralWatch, and is also in charge of our mangrove project. You can’t miss Arya’s enormous smile, caring nature and astounding fish identification skills.

Bira Project

Jeffri Hoeng

Bira Project Manager & Divemaster Instructor

Jeffri is an Indonesian born in Jakarta but has lived in various countries such as Singapore and Australia growing up. He has a bachelor’s degree from Monash University in Australia. He has been involved as an intern in marine projects in Fiji, Thailand, and across Indonesia. He has also worked as a dive instructor and guide in Komodo National Park and is currently both a PADI and SSI Instructor. Originally hired as the Bira Program Coordinator his expertise in the field quickly moved him up to Project Manager.

Elise Dixon

Bira Program Coordinator and Marine Biologist

Originally from the United Kingdom, Elise graduated from University of Birmingham in 2021 with a MSc in Applied Mathematics before packing her bags and flying to Indonesia. She first joined our internship programme in October 2021 and quickly became a valuable member of the team. After completing her Indo Ocean Project internship she completed her PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor with Blue Corner in Nusa Lembongan. Throughout her studies she volunteered on marine conservation projects in Fiji and Dominica. She joined the Bira team in June 2022 as our program coordinator and will be managing our Bira data sets.

Qinthan Azzahra

Research Assistant and Marine Biologist

Qinthan is a marine biologist and coral expert from Java, Indonesia. She graduated with a BSc in Marine Science from Diponegoro University in November 2021 after publishing her thesis “The Emergence of Whale Sharks Based on Aquatic Physical and Biological Factors in Saleh Bay, Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara”. She is also the winner of a coral restoration scholarship in the Gili Islands and Head of Conservation Management of the UNDIP Seagrass Conservation and Research Center. In 2019 she was an intern in Bangsring Underwater Banyuwangi with research focused on coral recruitment and fish apartments. This powerhouse young woman joined the Indo Ocean Project team as the Bira Project Research Assistant in May 2022.

Raja Ampat Project

Mette Carlsen

Raja Ampat Project Manager & Marine Biologist

Mette is originally from Denmark where she completed her MSc In Marine Biology at Copenhagen university in 2022. During her studies, she worked at the National Aquarium of Denmark as well as being an actual professional mermaid. She has volunteered in various marine conservation projects around the world focusing on coral reef ecology, whale shark monitoring and whale conservation. She joined IOP as an intern in 2021 as one of our all stars. After while completing her masters thesis abroad in Indonesia she became a PADI and SSI dive instructor and then joined the team in Nusa Penida for 3 months before heading out to Raja Ampat to set up the new project.

Fauzhanni Azhima (Za)

Raja Ampat Dive Master Instructor & Community Outreach Officer

Za comes from Jakarta where she quit her event management position to join a career in the ocean in 2016. She worked as a dive instructor in the Philippines, cruise director sailing Komodo, and explored most of Indonesia’s oceans before joining our team. She first started diving in 1997 and 20 years later became a dive instructor. She is passionate about the oceans and empowering women, especially in Indonesia, to join the fight more sustainable seas. Her expensive experience as a diver makes her a perfect mentor for our interns providing a lots of in and out of water life lessons.

Cornelis (Nelis)

Raja Ampat Program Coordiantor & Dive Guide

Nelis comes from our neighbouring village Saproken! He is a proudly born Papuan and has been working with Scuba Republic and as a dive guide on liveaboards across Indonesia for the last 6 years. During the pandemic he moved back to his home village where he has joined the Indo Ocean Project team. He is an expert local guide with an endless knowledge of the region and all the critters living in it. He loves everything macro and sharing his culture with interns. 

The team at Indo Ocean Project all have great passion for what we do, and we like to have fun whilst we do it!

It’s not just a team, it’s a family…. 

Want to join the team?

Contact us for available start dates!