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.
Voyages aboard these renowned expedition vessels have taken Lisa from the remote islands of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to Europe, as well as both coasts of South America and Africa. It is in the polar regions that she feels most at home, and much of her year is spent in the Antarctic Peninsula, Sub-Antarctic islands, and Norwegian Arctic. Lisa has also participated in expeditions by Russian icebreaker to Antarctica's Ross and Weddell Seas and the high Arctic archipelago of Franz Josef Land. She plays an active role in the future of Antarctic tourism, attending the annual IAATO conferences, and is a board member of Friends of South Georgia Island (FOSGI) - the United States affiliate of the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT).
A member of the Explorers Club, Lisa is probably the first person to ever learn to dive in the Antarctic, and has since logged over 900 hours exploring the waters of the Antarctic and Arctic using both scuba and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). This vast experience has lead to the production of the Antarctic Dive Guide, published in 2006, and now in its second edition. Lisa also served as the over-winter Station Manager at Palmer Station in 2010.