Cultural Specialists

Meet the scholars who offer insights into the cultures we explore


Cultural Specialists

Some of our voyages bring us deep into other cultures, where we have the chance to take part in local traditions and get a firsthand view of another way of life. In those places, we rely on our cultural specialists to interpret everyday customs and help us make meaningful connections with people we meet in our destinations. They may be archaeologists or anthropologists who can illuminate ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean or island cultures in the South Pacific.

Others are art historians or ethnomusicologists who give us a closer look at the rich artistic heritage of a destination through informative talks, guided tours, and concerts. All of them have spent time immersed in the regions they are exploring—and some of them were born and raised there.  

Often, we will welcome a local expert on board to offer insights and a personal perspective—such as a resident artist or a Tlingit cultural interpreter who sheds light on Alaska’s Indigenous traditions.  

Some of our voyages bring us deep into other cultures, where we have the chance to take part in local traditions and get a firsthand view of another way of life. In those places, we rely on our cultural specialists to interpret everyday customs and help us make meaningful connections with people we meet in our destinations. They may be archaeologists or anthropologists who can illuminate ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean or island cultures in the South Pacific....

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Expedition staff are subject to change.

Meet our Cultural Specialists

Cultural Specialist icon Cultural Specialist

David Brotherson

Growing up near Sydney, Australia, as a student David was long captivated by science, astronomy, and aviation. His passion for the world’s cultural diversity - and it’s elaborate, often entangled history - developed later, and was rooted in a fascination with the civilisations, history, and mythology of the ancient Mediterranean. These interests took shape at the University of Sydney as an archaeology major. As his undergraduate studies neared completion, David started travelling the world, and he would make a transformative trip to Southeast Asia. His weeks abroad were a fairly balanced mix of sandy beaches and medieval ruins but would culminate in a life changing experience standing amidst the enigmatic temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The opportunity then arose to work with the university’s Greater Angkor Project, a multi-disciplinary archaeological research program, and a PhD scholarship further cemented this collaboration. David’s dissertation on Angkor’s decline - founded in his expertise in settlement archaeology and GIS - integrated analysis of ceramics, the engineered landscape, environmental proxies, and international trade networks to analyse its urban trajectory, demise, and transformation. David is a long-term resident of Siem Reap, Cambodia, where he has lectured and led tour groups for over a decade. His role with Lindblad-National Geographic began in 2015 with the Mekong River voyage and has since broadened to various Mediterranean programs as expedition historian. David received his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2020. His archaeological research in Cambodia is ongoing, as is his passion for world history, educational tourism, playing guitar and tennis.

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Elsie Stewart-Burton

Elsie Gale is of the Ts'aahlth Laanaas Stastas Gitlun—a double Eagle, Eagle, Beaver, Sculpin and Frog clan from Hydaburg, Alaska, the most northern of Haida villages. Her Haida name is IL'skide and she was raised in the traditional Haida ways, learning about her family lineage and histories, songs and dance and food gathering throughout the seasons. She loves hunting, fishing, camping, picking berries, beach greens, teas and basic medicinal herbs. Elsie lived in Old Massett for 20 years where she raised two beautiful sons and worked as an entrepreneur. From 2008 to 2011, she opened and ran a studio/gallery in Ketchikan, Alaska, featuring Haida art as well as native art from many tribes of Alaska and British Columbia. She began learning Haida art in her youth and continued her studies by learning to make traditional Regalia and basic cedar weaving. From 2004 to 2006 she had the distinct honor of apprenticing with Master Haida Weaver Evelyn Vanderhoop to learn Raven's Tail and Naaxiin wool weaving which she demonstrated in her gallery and continues to make to this day!    In 2012 Elsie returned to Haida Gwaii, choosing Skidegate as her residence. Since moving home she worked one season as a Haida Gwaii Watchman in Gwaii Haanas, then next as an interpretive officer for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, and has now opened and is operating her own inn in Masset. 

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Daniel Odess

Daniel (Dan) Odess has conducted archaeological research across the Arctic, including Zhokhov Island in the Russian High Arctic, the coast of Chukotka, dozens of sites in interior and coastal Alaska, and Baffin Island in Canada.  Dan’s work focuses on a variety of topics that relate to how people have met the challenges of living in extreme environments, including: what they ate and how they procured it, how they organized their technology, their social strategies, and what it meant to colonize a place where nobody had ever lived before.  During his time at Brown University, Dan conducted his doctoral dissertation on Baffin Island, where he focused on the Dorset Paleo-Eskimos and examined how interaction between distant groups of people affected their ability to survive over time. He has studied the origins of whaling and its effects on Arctic peoples, the colonization of the Arctic and the New World, and prehistoric demography. He is also interested in the philosophy of science, including how we know what we know and ways to apply the scientific method to test our understanding and assumptions, solve new problems, and answer new questions. His approach to research is multidisciplinary, involving collaboration with paleoecologists, biologists, paleontologists, physicists, and geologists, among others. He is keenly interested in how the knowledge of indigenous people can inform our understanding of the past and how in turn, the study of the past can help inform the decisions we face today.   Dan is a natural teacher, with great enthusiasm for archaeology and the Arctic, and is a firm believer that far more can be learned and taught in the field than in the classroom. In addition to his work as professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska, he has led field courses in Iceland, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Alaska. His hobbies include kayaking, birding, hiking, cooking, gardening and, since leaving Alaska in 2007, growing orchids. 

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Linda Tollas

Linda (Gaajiiaawa) is of the Skedans Raven clan and lives in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii with her husband. She is a proud mother and grandmother to two sons, five grandchildren and twin great-granddaughters. Aside from a 25-year period, Linda has lived her whole life in Haida Gwaii.  She and her husband returned in 1997.  They spent two summers as Watchmen, protecting and educating visitors about her ancestral village of Skedans.  Her passion for learning and her communication and leadership skills made her a natural Cultural Heritage interpreter.  She worked for 14 years in this capacity with Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, educating diverse audiences about Haida culture and ethnobotany.  Linda provided guided hikes of the forests and evening slide shows to visitors, and delivered educational and interactive programs to all schools in Haida Gwaii. Linda has also served as a local educator to university students from across Canada enrolled in the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society Semester Program since its inception five years ago.  Her enthusiasm about cedar, ethnobotany and Haida culture, and her engaging approach have always made her guided hikes of Spirit Lake a favorite of the Semester Program. A highlight of her career with Gwaii Haanas was accompanying the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP) elders as they circumnavigated Moresby Island for their Haida place-naming project. Inspired with SHIP’s work, Linda retired from Gwaii Haanas in 2012, and joined SHIP to learn the Haida language!

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Tua Pittman

Internationally acclaimed as a traditional master navigator, Tua has navigated canoes across the great oceans of our planet from the coastlines of Asia through to the shores of the Americas for more than 30 years, without the use of modern instruments. This Cook Islander, also of New Zealand Maori and Tahitian bloodlines, uses an ancient navigational system based upon careful observation of celestial bodies—sun, moon, and stars—as well as using ocean swells, flight patterns of birds, and other natural markers.   Tua’s efforts to adopt and promote the sailing arts of the ancients have been recognized throughout the Pacific. In 2008 he was designated a Pwo navigator on the island of Satawal in Micronesia and inducted by sacred ritual into this rarefied society of master navigators by Grand Elder and Master Navigator Mau Piailug. In addition to earning prominence among traditional voyaging societies, Tua is known throughout Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia for his mentoring of young islanders in the traditional cultures and languages of their ancestors. Tua is a respected chieftain of his island homeland, a dancer, drummer, athlete, and gifted speaker. His lecture topics, accompanied by excellent visual materials, include the origin and migration theory of the Pacific people; ancient traditional voyaging and navigation; traditional voyaging in this modern day; open-air star presentation and identification—navigating Pacific skies; and Pacific Ocean traditions and cultures.

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Stefan Thorgeirsson

An avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for languages and culture – Stefan is a Viking with a twist. Born in Reykjavik, to a family from the Westfjords of Iceland, Stefan’s upbringing has allowed him to experience the best of both worlds. During most of the wintertime, he lived in Reykjavik and got to know the city. When the summertime came, however, he would go hiking, camping and fishing in the beautiful nature of Iceland. Stefan lived in Japan for one year during his high school studies and speaks fluent Japanese. After high school, he took a year off to explore another part of the world – Costa Rica – where he worked as a volunteer at a wildlife reserve. Stefan got to know the locals and experience the biodiversity of Costa Rica as well as its culture and language. His Spanish is still pretty good. Stefan holds a BSc degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iceland as well as a BA Acting degree from Iceland University of the Arts. Right out of university Stefan moved with his family to Japan where they have been living for the past two years. Before joining Lindblad Stefan was working as a tour guide in Iceland and he has been around the island multiple times, both on land and sea.

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Patrick MacQuarrie

Patrick MacQuarrie grew up on a wheat farm on the Columbia River Basin. In college, he studied engineering, international relations, and geography, getting his PhD in International Water Management. Both Irish and American, Patrick has lived and worked abroad for the last 25 years, is a keen conversationalist and passionate musician.  He brings extensive and deep knowledge of river basin systems to Lindblad’s team of experts, having worked on crafting and implementing water sharing agreements with UN-Water, the Environmental Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Mekong River Commission, and conducted research and taught at acclaimed Universities worldwide.  Patrick has waded in nearly every meandering river in the world; the Columbia and Colorado river basins in North America, the Amazon and Lake Titicaca basins in South America, the Mekong, Salween, and Irrawaddy, in Southeast Asia and the Murry-Darling in Australia, several basins across Europe and West Asia, multiple basins in the Middle East and North Africa, and intimate knowledge of waterways in Ireland and the British Isles. He now shares his insightful yet personal experience with guests aboard Lindblad’s authentic and memorable voyages. 

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Amy Loewen

After studying anthropology and music at the University of Toronto, Amy promptly left for Japan and found herself teaching English to over 12,000 junior high school students across Kanazawa. This overseas immersion uncovered her fascination with Japanese culture, and kickstarted her lifelong study of Nihongo (Japanese language). After returning to North America, Amy worked as a museum exhibit designer and project manager in Hawai’i and San Francisco before finding her way back to travel and education.    Amy has worked both backstage, as an operations manager of educational trips to Japan, and on the front lines, lecturing on expedition ships all over Japan and managing her own tour company. Amy holds her master’s degree in language teaching, and when she’s not in Japan, she teaches English language learners at community colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area. Amy is invited back to Niigata every summer as a visiting faculty member at the International University of Japan, and she also delivers regular training workshops to Japanese tour guides.  Amy has a boundless enthusiasm for Japanese culture and food, and her lectures focus on everyday life in Japan and the interplay between language, thought, and behavior. While cultural explorations are her specialty, her curiosity also extends to the natural world. Amy recently moved from Point Reyes National Seashore, home to over 400 species of birds and thousands of Northern elephant seals, to Lassen Volcanic National Park. She shares her new heavenly habitat with her park ranger husband, three cats, boiling mud pots, and four types of volcanoes.   

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Jacqueline Windh

Jacqueline is a PhD scientist, a best-selling author and photographer, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She completed her doctorate studies in structural geology at the University of Western Australia, working as an exploration geologist on three continents before leaving that industry to follow more environmentally friendly pursuits. For the past two decades she has worked as a photojournalist and as a wilderness guide and adventurer, mainly in the Pacific Northwest, South America, and Antarctica. She is author or major contributor to four books. Her photographs and words have been published worldwide, and she has written and presented radio documentaries for both the CBC and the ABC. She is currently working on two books and involved in several adventure film projects. In 2021, Jacqueline was awarded the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. A dual Canadian/Australian citizen, she lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

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Shirley Campbell

Dr Shirley Campbell is a social anthropologist with a special interest in the indigenous peoples of Australia, Melanesia and the Pacific. More than four decades of academic research and university teaching have led to a sound knowledge and understanding of many cultures around the world and the theoretical foundations that human societies share. Growing up in California and exploring her suburban neighborhoods, Shirley’s passion for understanding different cultures was sparked by discovering ancient artefacts from Native Americans long dispossessed of their lands. Now widely travelled, she has had firsthand experience of the ways in which communities form and develop distinct, yet interrelated cultures. Living in England, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the United States, Shirley developed fluency in Italian and the Vakutan language and is now learning German. She has led groups of Italian tourists around England and American tourists throughout Western Europe; sailed in ocean-going outrigger canoes while living two years in the Trobriand Islands, a tiny coral atoll in Papua New Guinea, for her research. Now retired, Shirley was a lecturer and Research Fellow at the Australian National University and Canberra University, and a Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Shirley has specialised in studying the anthropology of art, convinced that understanding the way people represent their ideas through the broad lens of art, valuable insights into peoples’ perceptions and relationships with the world around them can be gleaned. Her studies have led to degrees from Stephens College Missouri and the Australian National University. She has contributed several academic papers to peer-reviewed journals, has written pieces in numerous edited books and has written her own book recounting her research and experiences in the Trobriand Islands titled ‘The Art of Kula’. More recently, Shirley has turned attention to the Indian Sub-continent with a research interest in the diversity of people and cultures living side-by-side in this relatively small region. Shirley is passionate about mental and physical wellness and is a senior instructor in the Australian fitness industry and a master yoga teacher. For relaxation and pleasure, she enjoys studying the origins of yoga and its place within Indian society, music, quilting, bread making and scuba diving.

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Natalia Slobodina

Natasha was born and raised in the Russian Far East, on the north shore of the Okhotsk Sea. Her archaeologist father made sure her childhood summers were rather unique: rafting on the Kolyma River, backpacking around the Olsky Plateau, and excavating places where people stopped for a break or lived from 200 to 11,000 years ago. Her interest in the adaptations that made living near or above the Arctic Circle possible thousands of years ago (without North Face and Gore-Tex!) led her to University of Alaska Anchorage, where she got her undergraduate degree in Anthropology, and then University of Washington, where she got her MA (Anthropology). Between school years, she assisted the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service with surveying for unknown archaeological sites and monitoring or excavating the known ones in places like Gates of the Arctic National Park, Yukon-Charley National Park, and Katmai National Park. She focused on the stone tools, trying to discern how and why ancient technologies changed. Natasha lives in The Bay Area of California now and gets out to the Sierra Mountains as much as possible (backpacking in summers and skiing in the winter) because they remind her of the North.

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Richard McColl

Richard McColl is a British freelance writer, conflict resolution specialist, holds a PhD in Social Sciences and foreign correspondent based either in the lofty altitudes of Bogotá or in the sweltering lowlands of the garciamarquian where he runs two small guesthouses. His writing and reporting has appeared in some 30 publications worldwide, appears regularly on television and radio shows as a commentator on events in Colombia and he hosts a weekly online radio show called "Colombia Calling". He is currently working on his first novel based on his experiences in Colombia as a hotelier entitled: " The Mompos Project"

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