The TNEP Volunteer Working Group 2006

Alexis Nelson Environmental Engineering, University of Colorado, BoulderBen De Jonge Mechanical Engineering Graduate, Adelaide UniversityCameron Brown Close the Loop (B.Sc.)Daniel Handley PhD Candidate, University of Adelaide
Ellena Mangavoulakis PricewaterhouseCoopers LegalHakon Dammen Managing Partner ESD Learning Centre (Southport, QLD)Lauren Patmore Advocate, Good Cause, (Sydney, NSW)Luke Whistler Project Manager (B.E. Civil)
Rodrigo Castellanos Research analyst for RepuTexSimon Coutts GWMWaterSteven Szyndler Masters Candidate, University of South AustraliaTavis Potts Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Western Sydney
David Dixon Environmental Management student, Flinders University Jennifer Behm Agricultural Services and Natural Resources PhD Candidate, University Texas Tech University   

The core team behind TNEP is made up of young professionals and researchers mentored by a growing network of leaders in the field of sustainable development. In response to this amazing opportunity to learn and develop our capacity the team has formed an internship program to enable other your professionals and researchers to become involved in our activities to both further enhance their skills and understanding of the field and to increase the overall capacity of our team.

This ‘Working Group’ consists of a select group of dedicated volunteer young professionals who are enthusiastic about making tangible efforts to achieving Sustainable Genuine Progress. In September 2004 an invitation was issued to join a internship team of 12 members to be coordinated by Nick Palousis, the TNEP Operations Coordinator with the following objectives;.


The objectives of the Working Group are to:

  1. Develop the knowledge and skills of young professionals in sustainable development within their field;
  2. Assist young professionals in compiling professional research papers of a relevant theme to achieve Sustainable Genuine Progress;
  3. Increase the research and operational capacity of TNEP through the delivery of research papers;
  4. Increase the capacity of TNEP to deliver relevant educational material for   sustainability;
  5. Provide TNEP Partners and supporters with access to quality research material;
  6. Develop an online research journal consisting of the works of talented young  professionals searching for solutions to sustainability’s formidable challenges.

The Working Group Members are volunteers with a focus – apart from their busy schedules as professionals and academics, they are passionate about developing themselves as individuals to respond creatively and positively to the challenge of sustainability. The Natural Edge Project is extremely proud to have this core group of select individuals on board the TNEP team – they will hugely assist us in doing what we do best – getting the job done.

Alexis Nelson

Born and raised in Boulder, CO., Alexis is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado. A focus in policy and analysis will enable her to aid society in mitigating the conflicts between science and policy that slow our progress towards a sustainable world. She had the privileged opportunity to receive training in TNEP’s Natural Capitalism: Critical Literacies for Engineers in Sustainability course, co-instructed by Karlson Hargroves and L. Hunter Lovins (May 2005). This summer she will complete an internship at the Natural Resources Law Center researching the effectiveness of water rights language on protecting wilderness areas in Colorado and Arizona. Her background evolved from cross-cultural coordination and youth leadership work. Over the past five years, Alexis has developed her professional background in administration, account management, and special event coordination.

Ben De Jonge

Ben graduated with honours from the University of Adelaide in 1998 completing a course in Mechanical Engineering. He then worked for a steel component manufacturer designing and implementing an extra manufacturing process and improving production. Simultaneously, due to an interest in business, he studied a Grad. Dip. in Business Enterprise, again at the University of Adelaide.

Ben has a keen interest in sustainability and permaculture philosophy and especially enjoys working with people. Ben yearns to help people achieve sustainability in Australia. In his spare time, he enjoys conservation volunteering, racket sports, cycling, hiking and camping.


Cameron Brown

Based in Melbourne, Cameron was awarded a scholarship from the University of Melbourne ‘s Faculty of Science to pursue co-majors in Geography and Environmental Science. Achieving a distinction average, he developed a strong interest in the role business has to play in moving towards a sustainable world. Following graduation, Cameron worked as a tennis coach and English teacher in Japan and traveled extensively across Laos and Burma. Upon returning to Australia in 2003, he gained employment with Close the Loop – the Melbourne based company leading the world in the field of electronics recycling. Undertaking the roles of Assistant to the CEO (Steve Morriss) and International Business Manager gave Cameron the opportunity to travel throughout North America and South-East Asia , as well as the chance to contribute to the Department of Environment and Heritage’s Working Group on Electronic Waste. Cameron’s current position involves managing Close the Loop’s material output streams. The primary objective of this role is to maximize the recovery value of reclaimed materials and deliver Close the Loop’s promise of zero waste to landfill.

Daniel Handley

Based in Adelaide, Daniel is a PhD student at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, upon graduating with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering with First Class Honours.

His current research topic is the design and optimisation of a micromanipulation robot. During the course of his research he has authored and co-authored six international conference papers and one international journal paper.

This study has involved 9 months research at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. He has lectured on topics of “Eco-Design” and is currently focused on integrating sustainability education within the engineering curriculum.

Ellena Mangavoulakis

Ellena has recently joined PWC Legal from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency. She has worked in the areas of environmental prosecutions, environmental management, sustainable development, industry partnerships and conservation protection. Ellena has international experience in environmental management, previously working in Thailand at the Asian Regional Office of IUCN – World Conservation Union. She has worked on regional conservation projects funded by the World Bank and Global Environment Fund. Ellena has been responsible for managing a wide cross-section of projects in the field of sustainable development, natural resource management, eco-efficiency, agribusiness and communications.

Hakon Dammen

Based in Brisbane, Hakon is a Norwegian Citizen and Australian Resident who graduated from Griffith University (BEnvEng – Hons) in November 2002. Since graduating, Hakon has been working as an Environmental Coordinator for a private development, planning and engineering consultancy on the Gold Coast, SEQ.

In addition to this position, Hakon entered into a business partnership in August 2003 called ESD Learning Centres, which he describes as an environmental consultancy with a twist. Having had the opportunity to travel extensively overseas before coming to Australia, Hakon feels that he has gained an important understanding of multicultural values. Apart from traveling, Hakon says he is a big fan of sports, favouring soccer – the world game.

Lauren Patmore

Based in Sri Lanka for the next 12 months, Lauren is currently working in a volunteer capacity with a local NGO as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development. Prior to this, Lauren was working for Medecins Sans Frontieres in their Sydney office. Having graduated from a Bachelor of International Business with First Class Honours in Environmental Management and the Griffith University Medal, Lauren is actively pursuing research within the broad spectrum of Sustainable Development, Environmental Management and Humanitarian Aid. As part of her current work in Sri Lanka , Lauren is establishing and building capacity in the areas of Organic Agriculture and Recycling in a rural, tsunami-affected community and hopes to later expand these projects into neighbouring villages. Lauren’s additional interests include travel, languages, art, meditation and exposure to a variety of cultures and environments.

Having so recently joined TNEP’s Working Group, I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to contribute immediately through attending the 2004 Engineering Leadership Conference, the theme of which was ‘A New Paradigm’. This theme was well suited to TNEP, since a major aim of the conference was to gain suggestions and insight into how engineers can engage with the Australian community better, in other words, through a ‘whole of society’ approach.

Luke Whistler

Based in Brisbane, Luke graduated as a civil engineer with honours from the University of Queensland in 2000. He works as a project manager for a consultancy that looks after a significant percentage of all urban development in South East Queensland. Luke has spent four years with a national construction company on various jobs across Queensland, including large mining and civil infrastructure projects incorporating remote site logistics. Secondment to a design firm during this time led to broader exposure of design principles. He has a keen interest in the implementation of ‘whole system’ design, and aims to harness the benefits for a positive environmental and economic influence across Australia. Outside of engineering and sustainable development, his other interests include surfing, rugby union, travel and photography.

5 Dec 2005: London Sustainable Procurement – Making it happen, Sustainable Procurement Task Force plenary session report.

Rodrigo Castellanos

Rodrigo Castellanos holds qualifications in Economics, Financial Planning and Environmental Management. He has worked with several financial institutions in the areas of private banking and product development. In the last years he has undertaken studies in Environmental Management as well as several courses in sustainability in urban and rural communities around Australia. His passion for innovative and practical ways of sustainable living has encouraged him to found the company GBiosfera in his country, Mexico. GBiosfera has created several programs in the area of sustainability for governments, universities, companies and non profit organizations. Currently Rodrigo works as a research analyst for RepuTex Rating and Research Services in Melbourne, contributing to expanding the use of CSR analysis amongst companies and financial institutions.

Simon Coutts

Living in a capital city did not stop Simon from spending most of his youth hidden in the mountains skiing, rock climbing, hiking and camping. There is no doubt that his early years influenced his passion and choice to pursue a career in the environmental field.
After graduating with a degree in Applied Science (Environmental Health), Simon worked and lived in a region rural local government for a number of years as an Environmental Health Officer prior to moving to where he currently works at the regional water utility, now GWMWater.


Simon is currently involved in many aspects of environmental management as Senior Environmental Officer. He is directly involved in wastewater management and coordinates an extensive recycled water and biosolids reuse program. Simon is also responsible for regulatory liaison, has developed biodiversity management strategies, worked on extensive community consultation programs, as well as been involved in trade waste, energy and greenhouse gas management. In his spare time he is working towards his Double Masters of International Environmental Law and International Relations.

Steven Szyndler

Based in Adelaide, Steven graduated in 2003 from Mechatronic Engineering with First Class Honours and in 2002 from Mathematic and Computer Science degrees at Adelaide University. He commenced postgraduate studies at the University of South Australia in 2004 and developed an interest in sustainability and industrial systems. Steven is regularly involved in programs, promoting and teaching primary and secondary students about engineering concepts, representing Young Engineers Australia (YEA-SA), the Investigator Science and Technology Centre and the Technology School of the Future (TSOF) . He has completed a training small group module in the Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment through his involvement at the International Wing Chun Academy where he also trains and teaches weekly. Outside of engineering, sustainable development and martial arts his other interests include snowboarding and skiing, music, cookery, playing guitar and piano and ballroom/latin dancing.

Tavis Potts

Dr Tavis Potts is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian Expert Group in Industry Studies, University of Western Sydney. Previously he was employed as the Sustainability Reporting Manager at the City of Sydney and completed his PhD at the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania.

Tavis’s research and interests lie in sustainability science and innovation, indicators and reporting, and marine and coastal policy. Tavis has engaged in sustainability debates across many jurisdictions – from urbanised local government to the high seas of the Antarctic region and appreciates the challenges that face individuals, communities and nations face to achieve this important goal.

“Its fantastic to meet like minded young people on this sustainability mission. Sometimes it feels like your on your own, and when you realise that your not, its quite empowering. So thanks for having me on board. Look forward to working with you.”

6-8 April 2006: “Partnerships in Australian Regions – Progress, Challenges and Policy”. Presentation to the 12th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference 2006

David Dixon

David joined The Natural Edge Project in 2006 as a Volunteer Working Group Member. David is also employed by Dixon Partnership Solutions as a Research Assistant and Special Projects Officer. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Environmental Management at Flinders University focusing on environmental sustainability. He is heavily engaged in community services working in his spare time with the Department of Education and Children’s Services as a part time aquatics teacher instructing children, young adults and disabled people. David is also an elite athlete representing South Australia in hockey and more recently in 2005 representing his country in the International 420 World Sailing Championships in France.  

After this event David took the opportunity of taking a sabatical from his university studies to travel extensively throughout Europe and South America for several months both living and working in a wide range of diverse communities and cultures.