Cultural Specialists

Scholars and local experts offer insight into cultures we explore


Cultural Specialists

A local watchman hikes over the moss-draped spongy forest grounds of Haida Gwaii sharing his people’s stories and bringing to life the myth and mystery of the islands. A Cambodian professor comes aboard on the Mekong River to share firsthand stories of his country’s struggles, and then joins guests on the outside deck to give voiceover to the hope and future he sees in the people working along the riverbanks. And in South America an ethnomusicologist joins the expedition to curate a series of concerts aboard the ship and ashore that offer a deeper look into the cultures guests explore. 

On select expeditions, cultural specialists who are experts in their fields are added to an already impressive expedition team to further illuminate local life. They are chosen not just for their academic background, but for their ability to enable an authentic connection to the people guests meet along their journey. 

In regions that focus on history and culture — like Egypt, Vietnam, the Caribbean, or the Mediterranean — two or more cultural specialists may join the full expedition. One may be an archeologist, another an expert everyday lives of ancient people. They often have deep local connections formed from spending years or even decades studying in the regions they illuminate for guests. 

And in wild places, like Alaska for example, a cultural specialist may come aboard the ship to relate stories of the indigenous people who once lived in Glacier Bay as guests sail through the park—or they may meet guests as they get off a ship and visit a first nations community. 

No matter the topic, they add to guests’ appreciation and contribute a vital, but not easily discovered, facet of a region. 

A local watchman hikes over the moss-draped spongy forest grounds of Haida Gwaii sharing his people’s stories and bringing to life the myth and mystery of the islands. A Cambodian professor comes aboard on the Mekong River to share firsthand stories of his country’s struggles, and then joins guests on the outside deck to give voiceover to the hope and future he sees in the people working along the riverbanks. And in South America an ethnomusicologist joins the expedition to curate a series of concerts aboard the ship and ashore that offer a deeper look into the cultures guests explore. ...

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Expedition staff are subject to change.

Meet our Cultural Specialists

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Jacob Edgar

Jacob Edgar   is an Ethnomusicologist, world music tastemaker and global explorer with an insatiable curiosity for the diverse ways in which people express themselves through music. Jacob’s adventures have taken him to dozens of countries, and hundreds of the world’s greatest international music festivals, showcases and performance venues in search of exceptional musical talents. Since 1998, Jacob has been the main music researcher for the acclaimed world music compilations label  Putumayo World Music , contributing songs and liner notes to over 300 Putumayo collections that combined have sold over 15 million copies. In 2006, Jacob founded the record label  Cumbancha , whose artists include some of the top names in international music. In 2009, Jacob embarked on a new adventure as host of a new music and travel television program Music Voyager . The series invites viewers to discover the exciting sounds of the planet and broadcasts on PBS and other stations around the world. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, where he was a double major in History and Latin American Studies, Jacob conducted field research on music and society in Central America. His love of music took him to the West Coast where Jacob was awarded the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 1994 with a Masters in Ethnomusicology. For a time, Jacob was a professional trumpet player performing primarily salsa and Afro-Cuban music. He has written for The Beat , Global Rhythm Magazine , The LA Times Book Review and other publications, and was the host of the radio program “Uncompass” on the San Francisco radio station KALW. Jacob lives in the small town of Charlotte, Vermont with his wife Deirdre and daughters Simone and Schuÿler. He runs his enterprises from an antique refurbished barn nestled amidst the picturesque Green Mountains. Also on the property is Cumbancha’s partner company, Lane Gibson Recording and Mastering, one of the most revered recording studios in New England. The studio has attracted artists from near and far to craft their music in a unique and magical setting.

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Koen Kleijn

Koen Kleijn is an art historian, working as a journalist and a writer. He is currently editor-in-chief of Ons Amsterdam, a monthly devoted to the history of the Netherlands’ capital. He is the author (or co-author) of several books on history and culture in the Netherlands, among which Nederlandse Bouwkunst (Architecture in the Netherlands), Amsterdamse Grachtentuinen (Gardens of Amsterdam) (2005) , and De Grachten van Amsterdam / The Canals of Amsterdam, (2013) , describing 400 years of cultural history of the UNESCO World Heritage area. Koen is the resident art critic of  De Groene Amsterdammer. He has worked for several institutions in the Netherlands’ cultural sphere. He was editor of a magazine for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; a tutor at Design Academy Eindhoven and at Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam.

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David Brotherson

Growing up near Sydney, Australia, David’s interest in world history was rooted in a fascination with the classical civilisations of the ancient Mediterranean. Later, his research focus shifted to Southeast Asia for his dissertation when he joined the Greater Angkor Project, an international collaboration between the University of Sydney, the Cambodian government and l’Ecole Francais d’Extreme Orient. David is a long-term resident of Siem Reap, Cambodia, where he has worked at Angkor Wat for over a decade. His research interests include ceramics studies; the archaeology of urbanism, trade and cultural exchange; the history of art and architecture; and prehistoric societies. David has a PhD in archaeology with the University of Sydney. He has taught archaeology, anthropology and world history to diverse audiences in Cambodia, Singapore and Australia.

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Ann Wilson

Born and raised in Ireland, Ann Wilson lectures in Visual Culture and Design and Photography History at the Crawford College of Art and Design/Munster Technological University in Cork, Ireland. She is primarily interested in Irish and European visual culture in the 19th and 20th centuries, including art, architecture, design and popular culture. She has published widely both nationally and internationally, and her current work focuses on Edwardian picture postcards in Ireland. Ann’s career has been varied, as she initially worked for 15 years as a biomedical scientist, before switching course completely and earning a degree in ceramic design. She then worked as a ceramic artist, exhibiting and selling her pieces in galleries throughout Ireland. In 2002 she obtained a master's degree in art and design history, followed in 2011 by her doctorate in visual culture studies, and since then she has concentrated on teaching and research, both of which she loves. Ann has followed her research interests to many countries, particularly Britain, France and Spain, but her home is in the historic seaside town of Cobh in southern Ireland, where she lives with her husband Jim.

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Miquel Angel Rodríguez-Arias

Miquel Angel Rodríguez-Arias holds a BSc in Biology from the University of Barcelona, a MSc in Environmental Engineering from the University Ramón Llull, and a MSc in History of Science and Technology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Now, he works in a Hospital as research management in a team devoted to cure and eradicate neglected tropical diseases, but formerly he has held similar positions in institution working on marine sciences, agrofood or climate change. In his early research career, he was lucky to join some exciting extreme fieldwork experiences such us dredging submarine volcanoes in Antarctica onboard an oceanographic research vessel or helping insane fearless herpetologists to capture poisonous snakes and mega-lizards in the red sandy dunes of Simpson Desert in Central Australia. His personal interest on the diversity of cultures and natural landscapes led him to become an experienced independent traveler always looking for out-of-the track options. As such, he has explored new crossings in the Peruvian Andes, learnt traditional dog sledding in Quebec, joined massive Hindu festivals, and done solo dives at night in unspoiled reefs of the Coral Sea. Either in India, Southern Africa, or at his home city of Barcelona in Catalonia, what Miquel Angel likes most is to connect the present with the past. As a historian and cultural specialist in Lindblad-National Geographic expedition teams, he is eager to share this way to experience travel through the historical and cultural lenses. Miquel Angel is also a science-popularization lecturer, sporadic contributor to Spanish travel magazines, and part-time professional tour-guide in the Barcelona area.

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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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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, climbing 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. There he worked as a volunteer at a wildlife reserve where he had the opportunity to experience the biodiversity of Costa Rica as well as its culture and language. He speaks Spanish fluently as well. Currently studying Industrial Engineering at the University of Iceland, Stefan hopes to combine all of these skills and experiences to help connect Icelandic companies to different countries around the world. Stefan has been working as a tour guide in Iceland for two years and has been around the island several times. He guides in English, Japanese and Spanish, and is currently working on his Korean. Another one of his passions is singing as he is a member of a local barbershop quartet that perform regularly at festivals, concerts, birthdays and other events. Ask Stefan about anything you would like to know concerning the Icelandic nature, outdoor activities, vibrant Reykjavik or anything else that could be of interest.

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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 monthly 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 currently lives at Point Reyes National Seashore, where she shares her heavenly habitat with her park ranger husband, three cats, over 400 species of birds, and thousands of Northern elephant seals.

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Birna Imsland

Iceland is an island in the middle of the Atlantic – both cool and hot at the same time. It is sometimes called the land of fire and ice, and this place of extremes is where Birna Imsland is born and raised. Birna‘s passion for languages started early in childhood. She majored in German at university, and she holds a Master‘s degree in conference interpreting. Today, her main working languages as an interpreter are Icelandic, English and German, but she speaks six languages. Interpreting is all about opening communication and creating links between people, and Birna‘s work as an interpreter has taken her to many different communication settings, as well as teaching interpreting at the University of Iceland. Graduating from the state run tourist guide school in 1993 also provides Birna with a different kind of opportunity to combine working with both languages and people. She finds deep satisfaction in enabling travelers to make their dreams come true, be it by opening their eyes to geology, history, language and culture, or by helping them create opportunities to experience the raw nature of her native country – not forgetting the magnificent northern lights.

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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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