Our expedition leaders forge teams dedicated to crafting enriching experiences
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Expedition leader Cindy Manning is an ace ROV pilot and currently lives in the Galápagos Islands.
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A research biologist by trade, Bud Lehnhausen has been leading Lindblad-National Geographic expeditions since 1983.
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Tom O’Brien had designed itineraries and led expeditions since 1985. He leads every expedition aboard Sea Cloud.
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Expedition leader Lisa Kelley once served as the over-winter manager at the Antarctic outpost Palmer Station.
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Your expedition leader is the orchestrator of your experience, and works closely with the captain to plan each day’s adventures.
Our expedition leaders are veteran leaders in the field. Many have advanced degrees and have conducted research or taught for years. They have achieved expedition leader status because they possess the skills, experience and the depth of knowledge necessary to continually craft the best expedition possible for our guests.
We place enormous trust and responsibility in our expedition leaders and provide them with the personnel, resources, and opportunities to ensure remarkable expedition experiences. Because our expedition leaders have been with us for years, many for over three decades, they have an institutional knowledge virtually impossible to match. When wind or weather might preclude a certain landing, they're using their local knowledge and collaboration with the captain to reach a more protected spot where you can go ashore safely—to actively explore. And, because an expedition depends on flexibility and the ability to take advantage of unexpected moments, you can rely on your expedition leader to stop the ship and enable observation and photo ops—whether it’s a 40-ton humpback whale suddenly surfacing nearby, bow-riding dolphins, or a pod of narwhals.
The caliber of our expedition leaders and their teams is the reason our name is respected in the travel industry, and our guests continually entrust their safety, valuable time, and intelligent curiosity to us.
Featured Expedition Leaders
Known for his charming disposition and vast experience as a naturalist guide, Gustavo studied biological sciences and modern languages at the University of Costa Rica. He is currently studying natural resource management and conservation at Costa Rica's state university and coordinates a study-abroad program focusing on the environment for a Texas-based university.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, and one of seven children, Lynn grew up in various university towns where her father was a professor of physics. Lynn obtained her B.A. in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, followed by a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida, which encompassed a study of marine turtles in Costa Rica. She arrived in the Galápagos in 1978 and became one of the first female naturalist guides working for the Galápagos National Park.
Bud received an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology at Colorado State University. He then immediately went to Alaska where he worked and lived for 30 years. At the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Bud studied wildlife biology and received a master's degree conducting research on four species of alcid seabird nesting on a remote island in the Gulf of Alaska.
Tom O’Brien has been leading and designing expeditions for Lindblad Expeditions since 1985. With a background in physical geography and conservation, a Bavarian heart and a Celtic soul, Tom has been one of the most passionate advocates of the expedition experience around the world for the last twenty years. Many of the local people and communities that we work with today are the result of friendships that Tom and his expedition mates developed many years ago.
Sue started her naturalist career working as a wildlife biologist in the forests of Maine, Newfoundland and the Washington Cascades. Employing her B.Sc. in wildlife management from the University of Maine, she has counted bald eagles from a raft in the middle of winter, live-trapped pine marten and studied spotted owls. After that, wanting to share her knowledge and love of natural areas with others, she moved into the realm of education.
Steve Blamires is from Arran on the west of Scotland, where the Celtic and Gaelic cultures are still strong. Steve has traveled extensively on all seven continents, has circumnavigated the globe, and visited over 50 countries. He now lives in New York State with his wife Jennifer.
Bernal Díaz was born in San José, Costa Rica. His father owned a coffee and sugar cane plantation that served as Bernal's personal playground. The farm included a remote sector where all kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects thrived in coexistence with agriculture and cattle.
As a youngster, Lee grew up in a boating family in New England and was always in love with the sea and the outdoors. His favorite past time is exploring new places by water; and he loves sharing his experiences on the waterways of the eastern Pacific Ocean. When not sailing with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, he serves as a captain aboard a high-speed catamaran providing transportation for visitors to and from the Channel Islands National Park in California.
Growing up in northern California, Jason was surrounded by the incomparable nature of the Pacific Northwest. While attending university there, Jason met and eventually married an Ecuadorian woman who happened to be from a small group of islands off the coast of western South America. It was thus that Jason’s path led him to Ecuador and, in time, to one of the most revered natural environments on earth, the Galápagos Islands.
Lisa Kelley grew up landlocked, just outside Buffalo, New York before running away to sea. After graduating summa cum laude from Northern Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in health education and human biology, Lisa completed postgraduate work in immunology. She began working aboard the National Geographic Endeavour in 2000 as the global gallery manager and now spends most of the year working aboard National Geographic Explorer as expedition leader, naturalist, and undersea specialist.
Born in Lima, Peru, of North American parents, Cindy and her family subsequently lived in several South American and European countries with a couple stops in Peoria, Illinois. Cindy received a degree in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Afterwards, Cindy spent a year and a half teaching science in the Western Province of Kenya, East Africa.
Jen was born and raised in the beautiful, but land-locked, state of Colorado. As a child, she spent almost every summer camping, hiking, and backpacking in the mountains, which awakened her passion for the natural world. Her love of travel originated at an early age, by parents who introduced their children to the value of exploration. Jen started her naturalist career as a motor coach driver and guide in Alaska. She immediately fell in love with the amazing beauty and wildness of the place. After a few years, she transitioned to small ships as a naturalist and expedition leader.
Born of a Scottish father and English mother, Emma enjoyed an international upbringing because of her father’s job as a foreign correspondent. Although her family eventually settled in Rome, Emma's schooling was conducted in French, having started her studies in Brussels, Belgium and finishing at the Lycée Français de Rome in 1988.
Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with an emphasis on vertebrates. He has a doctorate in biology and a master’s in ecotourism and natural protected areas management. He designed a new curriculum for the largest university in Ecuador, the Central University— a masters in environmental management and administration of natural protected areas. Carlos has also taken part in various scientific projects and expeditions with the Biological Sciences Department of Quito’s Polytechnic University. He has published several scientific papers, including one about the bats of Galápagos and one about the vampire bat of mainland Ecuador.
Tim Soper was raised on the coast of Southwest England and now lives just along the coast from Dartmouth in Devon. Growing up constantly in and around boats, Tim became a qualified scuba diver at nine years old, and was soon an accomplished dinghy and yacht sailor. This passion for the sea led him to study at the University of Wales’ marine laboratories on the Isle of Anglesey, where he combined oceanography and marine biology to earn an honors degree in ocean sciences. Qualified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and the Royal Yachting Association, he has worked both above and below the waves teaching scuba diving, sailing, and power boating.
Paula grew up in Guayaquil where she obtained an undergraduate degree in geology from the Polytechnic University of Guayaquil. She enjoyed many field trips all around Ecuador and during her vacations traveled in Central and South America in the hope of learning more about her people and culture. The last year of her studies she worked at a mine looking for a more ecologically responsible way of recovering gold. Interested more in volcanoes than in raw materials, she came to Galápagos, a mecca for geologists, in 1992. She was bewitched by the other wonders of the islands and became a naturalist guide for the Galápagos National Park.