The Board Members and Trustees of the Olive Ridley Project are all passionate conservationists with a love for the ocean.
Nicola Weeden – Chair of Trustees
Nikki graduated from the University of Plymouth in 2009 with a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology; the focus of her studies was the diversity of shark populations in the Bahamas. After graduation, Nikki worked alongside Martin Stelfox and Dr. Jillian Hudgins in Mexico, monitoring coral health and diversity on the Meso-American Barrier Reef, and teaching volunteers about the marine environment.
Since August of 2011, Nikki has worked with UK Diving Tour Operator blue o two. She has spent a lot of time in the Maldives on blue o two liveaboards, hosting “Project Shark” itineraries, which teaches divers about shark ecology, biology and threats to the shark populations.
Nikki has always had a passion for conservation; when Martin approached her about getting involved with the Olive Ridley Project, she was only too happy to get stuck in.
Dr. Michael Sweet – Trustee
Dr Michael Sweet, an Early Career Researcher, is the head of the Molecular Health and Disease Laboratory at the University of Derby and Manager of the Aquarium Research Facility. Since completing his PhD in 2011, he has published 38 papers in peer reviewed journals, co-written a book on Molecular Ecology, and spoken at numerous conferences and workshops.
Dr. Sweet’s work takes him all over the world; he is currently focused on the Maldives, Thailand and Australia. His main interests are diseases in marine organisms, but he also works on the effects of nanoparticles on the environment and the use of eDNA as a commercial product.
He currently has four PhD and two master students in his research team who are all working on various topics, including studying reproduction and development in corals and sharks and the effects of ghost gear on marine turtles. Dr. Sweet’s diversity in research areas makes him an all-round generalist Marine Biologist with a clear drive and passion for understanding what is happening in the marine environment as a whole.
Dr. Sweets has been associated with the Olive Ridley Project since meeting founder Martin Stelfox in the Maldives. Martin Stelfox is currently conducting his PhD at the University of Derby under the guidance of Dr Sweet.
Mark MacDonald – Trustee
Mark MacDonald (MScF) is a Wildlife Ecologist at the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources in American Samoa, where he manages several wildlife recovery projects and is the marine turtle biologist for the territory.
The focus of Mark’s avian projects is concentrated on the use of translocation and captive rearing as a means for species recovery in listed or locally rare bird species.
Mark grew up in Prince Edward Island, Canada, flipping rocks and sloshing through vernal pools in search of critters. Today, he does much the same throughout the South Pacific and has had the great fortune of spending time with some of the world’s most wonderful wildlife. “We need more groups with the dedication and passion of ORP to fight for the preservation of our natural heritage.”