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.

Head Office 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 before settling in South East Asia. 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. She is a passionate underwater photographer and freediver.

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 12 years, 9 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 a published marine biologist and  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 8 years diving in the Penida MPA and throughout Indonesia.

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. 

Michaela Dudasova

Chief Financial and Administration Officer

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 shortly after graduating. After 5 years with Indo Ocean Project Michaela has become a PADI and SSI instructor and managed the Penida Project for 2 years before stepping into the roll of Chief Finiancial Officer and Treasurer for all projects. But don’t worry, she isn’t just stuck behind the desk! She still jumps around betwen projects as the lead support staff.

Penida Project

Mette Carlsen

Penida 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 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. She spent 10 months as the Raja Ampat Project manager before returning to Nusa Penida to lead the team for a second year on staff.

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 4 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

Ben Graves

Bira Project Co-Manager & Dive Instructor

Ben began life as a musician, playing piano from the age of six, clarinet from ten and saxophone from 12. His musical education culminated in a PhD in classical composition from the University of Cambridge where he subsequently taught composition and orchestration. Music being a fickle profession, his time was divided with work as a landscape gardener, until he was tempted away to sunnier climes and the promise of a career in the dive industry. His past experience in a mentoring roll makes him a perfect fit as a dive master instructor, always happy to share his knowledge and celebrate his students successes.

Jess Graves

Bira Project Co-Manager & Dive Instructor

Before following the call of the sea, Jess trained as a dancer and dance teacher, working freelance in London for several years before getting a ‘grown-up’ job in Cambridge. She is a trained yoga instructor and is studying part-time at the Open University for a degree in Geography and Environmental Science.

Ben and Jess have dived all over the world, from the Cayman Islands to Ireland and Cornwall; from Fiji to Thailand, exploring wrecks, riding currents, and braving cold temperatures. But there’s no diving like home and they earned their PADI Divemaster together in Cornwall in September 2022. They completed their IOP Research Diver internship in Bira in May 2022 and their Open Water Scuba Instructor training a year later in Nusa Penida before returning to Bira to take on co-managing the project. (Ask them about their underwater wedding preformed during their internship!)

Qinthan Azzahra

Program Coordinator & 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

Selene Gaiani

Raja Ampat Project Co-Manager & Marine Biologist

Mario Casati

Raja Ampat Project Co-Manager & Marine Biologist

Mario has been in love with nature all his life, and when it came to his master’s degree, he decided to become a marine biologist and explore the wonders of the ocean. He first approached diving in the lakes in his home town in Italy, and quickly understood that being underwater was the right path.
He collaborated with IOP first as an intern at the Penida Project in 2021, becoming a Dive master and developing his master’s thesis, and is now joining the team as an SSI, PADI and RAID instructor to co-manage the Raja Project with his partner Selene.

Shaelynne Trunk

Raja Ampat Program Coordinator

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!