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Our Team in the Field

Expert tour leaders are an integral part of the Worldwide Quest experience. Meet our unique group of leaders from around the world and see where they're off to next.

Aaron
Lawton

Aaron Lawton, alumnus of the University of British Columbia, develops the Polar program for One Ocean Expeditions, bringing a strong commitment to conservation in the Polar Regions. Over the last decade, Aaron has been expedition leader or kayak guide on about a hundred trips to the Canadian Arctic, the Antarctic Peninsula and Svalbard.
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Andrew
Trites

Dr. Andrew Trites is the Director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia and oversees a research program that involves captive and field studies of seals, sea lions, whales, and dolphins. His research spans the fields of ecology, nutrition, physiology, and animal behaviour—and is designed to further the conservation and understanding of marine mammals and resolve conflicts between people and marine mammals.
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Catherine
LaFarge

Catherine LaFarge is director and curator of the Cryptogamic Herbarium at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. Her research in the Arctic has focused on bryophytes (ecological building blocks like mosses and other non-vascular plants), which her team has revived after 400 years in the ice leading to suggestions that they may be ideal as trial balloons for researchers exploring the prospect of survival beyond earth.
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Chris
Earley

Chris Earley is the University of Guelph Arboretum’s Interpretive Biologist and Education Coordinator and a self-proclaimed 'nature geek'. He teaches workshops at the Arboretum, and participates in research around the world. Chris has led many previous Quest trips, including several to Africa.
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Christoph
Richter

Professor Christoph Richter is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Biology at University of Toronto Mississauga. His research focused on the influence of human activities on the behaviour of cetaceans. Currently, he is leading undergraduate research on the ecological impact of invasive species around Mississauga and on the Galápagos Islands. He has taught field courses in the Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, and Ecuador, and has been a study leader on cruises to the Arctic, Haida Gwaii and the Antarctic.
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Dr. Martyn
Obbard

Martyn Obbard is an emeritus research scientist and the former resident bear biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and adjunct professor at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario). His field work focused on Polar Bears and Black Bears, and he has published many papers detailing the demographics, genetics, and movements of these species.
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Gary
Lewis

UBC alumnus Gary Lewis is the owner of Phoenix Perennials, a cutting edge retail nursery in Vancouver, and an expert on perennials and horticulture. He holds two degrees from UBC in Conservation Biology and Plant Ecology.
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Greg
Sharam

Greg Sharam is a wildlife biologist, spending his summers in the Canadian Arctic, working on large mammals: grizzly bears, muskox and caribou. He completed graduate work at UBC with a PhD (Zoology) in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and an MSc (Botany) in the Yukon Territory. His interests include wildlife biology and conservation.
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Howard
Soon

UBC alumnus Howard Soon is the longest serving winemaker in Canada, creating 37 consecutive vintages and winning countless awards for his winemaking. As the head winemaker at Sandhill from 1997 to 2017, his collaborative relationships with growers and non-interventionist approach have consistently led to award-winning, single vineyard wines. Howard is now the master winemaker at the Similkameen Valley-based Vanessa Vineyards.
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Jaymie
Matthews

UBC Professor Jaymie Matthews (Department of Physics & Astronomy) calls himself an “astro-paparazzo who unveils the hidden lifestyles of stars by eavesdropping on the music of the spheres."
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John
England

John England is Professor Emeritus of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. His research spans 53 field seasons and has focused on glacial geology, sea level change, permafrost landscapes and processes, sea ice, and glaciology. A passionate advocate for the protection of the northern environment and for northern science, Dr. England was instrumental in the creation of Canada’s northernmost national park, Quttinirpaaq, on Ellesmere Island.
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John
Smol

John Smol is the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and a professor in the Department of Biology at Queen’s University. He studies how ecosystems change over long periods in response to natural and human-induced environmental change with a particular focus on Arctic and alpine ecosystems. For about three decades, he has been leading research in the high Arctic, studying the ecology of polar lakes and ponds and how they have changed.
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Julian
Dierkes

Julian Dierkes is a prolific commentator on contemporary Mongolia through the media but also on the Mongolia Focus blog that he publishes. A Canadian ambassador once reported that Julian’s blog posts are read at the Mongolian cabinet table. He came to UBC in 2002, first as an assistant professor and now as an associate professor and the Keidanren Chair in Japanese Research at UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs.
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Lee
Groat

Professor Lee Groat has been a faculty member at the University of British Columbia since 1989. His main research interests are the geology of gem deposits, pegmatites, the crystal chemistry of minerals, and economic geology. Many of his projects have entailed fieldwork in remote parts of northern Canada. In 2003 Dr. Groat was elected a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, and in 2009 the new mineral, groatite was named in his honour.
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Lori
Daniels

Lori Daniels is a professor in UBC’s forestry department with an expertise in forest ecology. In addition to a long-term research program investigating climate change in the forests of coastal British Columbia, she collaborates with colleagues in Argentina, conducting research on forest decline in the southern Andes. An outdoor ecologist with an interest in conservation and natural resource management, Lori travels regularly to Argentina.
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Paula
Swart

Paula Swart is a museum curator and expert on Asian culture and history. Paula has degrees in Sinology, Asian art history, Chinese history, and archaeology and has published several books and numerous articles on the art and architecture of Asian cultures. Paula is a lecturer at the University of British Columbia and has recently been teaching courses on UNESCO World Heritage sites at the UBC Summer Institute and the University of Victoria.
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Stephen
Inglis

Stephen Inglis has been a researcher, curator, and then Director-General of Research and Collections at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. His contributions to museums and Indian studies have been honoured by the Canadian Museums Association, the Shastri Indio-Canadian Institute and the Government of India. He earned a PhD in anthropology at UBC based on fieldwork with artisans in India and is currently an Adjunct Research Professor and Instructor of Art History at Carleton University.
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