Expedition Team

Our team is the key to your incredible adventure


Explore Alaska in the company of top experts. Benefit from their expertise—marine and terrestrial biology, botany, geology, and more—and benefit from their passion to share the wonder of this incredible place. Enjoy the company of our Alaska expedition team; you’ll find them highly engaging and fun to share a drink or dinner with, as well as a hike.


Meet the expedition team for this departure

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  • Becky Timbers

    Wellness Specialist
    Becky Timbers was born and raised in Vermont, where she spent her childhood exploring the outdoors and enjoying country life. She is fortunate to have parents who love to travel, so at an early age, she was bitten by the travel bug and subsequently spent five months in New Zealand and a year in Kenya through study abroad programs.

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  • Brenda Tharp

    Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor
    For over 20 years, Brenda has used her photographs of the world to celebrate its beauty, and inspire others to protect what we have. Brenda grew up exploring the woods, lakes, and coastlines of New Jersey and New England and her family traveled regularly throughout the eastern U.S., camping, hiking, backpacking, and canoeing. She spent most of her childhood engaging with nature in some form or another and learning about animal behavior. When her father taught her some photography at 13, Brenda soon combined her love for nature with her newfound passion, and several years later her adventure began as a freelance photographer, teacher, and writer.

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  • Christine West

    Undersea Specialist
    Christine was fortunate to grow up in the Pacific Northwest on the shores of the Puget Sound. After graduating from the University of Washington, she decided to pursue her love of the ocean and exploration. Her passion for marine biology has inspired her through over 4,000 scuba dives around the globe in temperate and cold-water conditions, as well as snorkeling and freediving in extraordinary habitats such as in river beds with spawning salmon, in recently de-glaciated bays and lagoons filled with ice and glacial silt and in deep blue water with large marine animals including humpback whales, hammerhead sharks and pilot whales.

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  • Jeff Phillippe

    Expedition Leader
    Jeff was raised in upstate New York and completed his B.A. in geography at Middlebury College in Vermont.  He attained his master’s degree in water resource science at Oregon State University where his research focused on glacier hydrology in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. He spent most of his 20's teaching Earth sciences and geography at the secondary and university level, while taking his summers off to lead wilderness and climbing expeditions throughout the continental U.S., Alaska, and Canada.

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  • Jeffrey Grover

    Naturalist
    Jeff's early introduction to the science of geology came from exposure to his grandfather’s extensive mineral collection and his vivid stories of work in the mines of Aspen Colorado.  From this informal beginning, Jeff earned degrees in geology from the University of Southern California (B.S.) and the University of Arizona (M.S.) where he focused on tectonics and structural geology.  Upon graduation, he worked as a petroleum geologist, and as an engineering geologist engaged in landslide and earthquake hazard mitigation.  He is licensed as a registered geologist in California.

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  • Julia Huggins

    Naturalist
    Julia grew up skiing, camping, and climbing in the mountains of Wyoming and sailing, sea kayaking, and tide pooling along the coast of Maine. She studied biology and environmental studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. As an undergraduate, she studied fungal ecology and soil chemistry in the Pacific Northwest old growth forests. Her work focused on how symbiotic relationships between trees, mushrooms, and soil bacteria drive ecosystem-level processes. This research in microbial ecology has brought her to remote corners of the world, including the rainforests of New Zealand, Patagonia, Ecuador, and Alaska.

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  • Katie Orlinsky

    National Geographic Photographer
    Photographer Katie Orlinsky has spent over a decade covering news stories and feature assignments around the world. Her work explores a variety of subjects from conflict and social issues to unique subcultures, wildlife, and sports, and has been featured in National Geographic magazine, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Smithsonian. Katie has won numerous awards over the course of her career from institutions such as the Art Director’s Club, PDN30, Visa Pour L’image, and Pictures of the Year International, and was named the 2016 Paris Match Female Photojournalist of the Year.

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  • Mark Coger

    Video Chronicler
    Growing up in a military family, Mark Coger has been traveling most of his life.  While living in Japan, he developed his passion for videography.  He began his venture in the field of video production by filming numerous events for a local high school and the military community before moving to Southern California, where he obtained his degree in filmmaking at California State University Northridge.  From there, he went on to produce and direct his first major short film, An American Journalist which was screened at the Method Film Festival.

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  • Nathan Kelley

    Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor
    Nathan grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  He developed his love for nature as a kid at his family’s cabin in Northern Wisconsin.  Family fishing trips, camping, hiking and a trip to his first National Park in the Everglades, all vigorously shaped his passion for the natural world.  After graduating with a degree in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, he moved to Southern California to work as a camera operator and photographer in a wide range of projects including work for the National Geographic Society.  His photography has also been exhibited in galleries and in publications.

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  • Nick Brown

    Naturalist/Expedition Diver
    Born and raised on the edge of the Mojave Desert, Nick was accustomed to hot dry days, far from the ocean. Everything changed when he attended California State University Monterey Bay, a short 1.5 miles from the beaches of Central California. This is where Nick’s passion for the water developed and completely engulfed his life. He quickly changed his concentration in college to Marine Science, allowing him to further dive into the underwater world.

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