Laurie Dexter: Expedition Leader
Laurie is an athlete whose feats include skiing for 91 days from Russia to Canada through the Geographic North Pole, skiing and sled hauling to the South Pole, traversing the ice caps of Greenland, Baffin Island, and King George Island in Antarctica, and numerous other polar region expeditions. As a runner he also goes to extremes, including having run 100 km in 8 hours, over 200 km in 24 hours, 600 km in 6 days, and 10 marathons in 10 days. He is also a mountaineer and has made numerous first ascents in the Arctic and in recent years has climbed a number of mountains in the Swiss Alps including the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
He lived on Baffin Island for 13 years where he learned the survival skills of the Inuit (Eskimos) and speaks their language. Since 1970 he has made his home in the Canadian north and continues to live in the Northwest Territories. Since 1993 he has made over 100 ship based trips to Antarctica and more than 80 Northern trips as an expedition leader and lecturer, including 14 voyages to the North Pole by nuclear icebreaker.
Laurie has degrees in physical education, theology and anthropology, and an honorary Doctor of Laws. He is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Arctic Club, and in recognition of his international contribution the Canadian Government has honored Laurie with the Order of Canada.
Emily Schindler: Assistant Expedition Leader
Emily is a Canadian businesswoman with a wide range of interests, starting in the business world as a mechanical engineer and later owning and managing a software development company.
Even as a young child growing up in Switzerland she showed an unusual desire to explore nature and later became an avid rock and ice climber, skier, mountaineer, sailor and long-distance runner. She has skied and sled-hauled on a North Magnetic Pole Expedition, a South Pole Expedition and also guides clients on ski and sled hauling expeditions across Baffin Island. In recent years she completed a horse trek in Outer Mongolia, and climbed the Matterhorn, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus and Mont Blanc among other mountains in the Alps, Canada, Russia and Argentina. In 2007 she ran the prestigious 89 km Comrades ultra-marathon in South Africa, and the San Francisco 24-hour race.
Through years of world travel, especially in the Polar Regions, Emily has accumulated an extensive knowledge of other cultures and exploration history. She is a member of the Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and in particular has been involved in ship-based tourism for over ten years as an assistant expedition leader and zodiac driver to the Arctic and Antarctic and regions in between.
On a totally different level she is known in the Canadian artistic community as a stone sculptor. In particular she is a member and past vice-president of the prestigious Sculptors’ Society of Canada.
Jimmy Thomson: Marine Mammals
James William Stuart Thomson is named for the first and only all-steel sailing schooner constructed in Canada. The James William, built by J. W. Carmichael, three-masted and 399 metric tons, was launched at New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1908, effectively presaging Jimmy’s own launch into the cruise industry only 102 years later.
Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Jimmy is a marine biologist with keen interests in scuba diving, journalism and photography. A summer internship at Vancouver Island’s Bamfield Marine Research Station in 2009 provided ample fodder for his first, in-preparation juried research publication on sea slugs, a subject dear to his heart. His experiences as culture editor for the St. F.X. university newspaper acquainted him with the lively arts and music scene in Nova Scotia and led him into some notable adventures on the road. In his spare time, Jimmy loves to be on the ocean.
John Kernan: Botany
John Kernan has been working in the expedition cruise industry for the past 20 years as a lecturer, naturalist, Zodiac driver, and expedition leader. He has led trips to all seven continents and over one-hundred countries, with a keen focus on the polar and tropical regions. Since 1991 he had traveled the high Arctic during the northern summer, splitting time equally between the North Pacific (Alaska and Siberia) and the North Atlantic (Svalbard and Greenland). During the austral summer months he makes his way deep south to Antarctica, where he recently completed his 80th trip to the great white continent.
He graduated from Humboldt State University in 1989 with a BS double major in Marine Biology and Zoology. He focused graduate work on invertebrates of the Pacific Northwest while working as a docent at the California Academy of Science’s Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco. While traveling with the organization as a guide and lecturer he found his natural calling as an expedition staff member. In his spare time he enjoys birding, botany, astronomy, invertebrate zoology, photography, writing, backpacking, scuba diving, and skiing. He currently makes his home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Roger Benedict: History
Roger inherited his love of the outdoors from his father, David, skiing and hiking together in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
He received a degree in Geology from Humboldt State University, and has worked in the expedition cruise industry since 2003, Roger has traveled with expeditions from the polar regions to the tropics, and especially enjoys the unique circumstances of expedition travel wherein each day is a journey unto itself.
Dick Cameron: Glaciology
Dick has a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of New Hampshire, completed his graduate studies in glaciology and quaternary studies at the University of Stockholm and his Ph.D in Geology from The Ohio State University. He wintered at Wilkes Station, Antarctica in 1957 and has completed glaciological field work in Antarctica, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, and Canada. He is assistant to the Director at the Institute of Polar Studies, Ohio State University, as well as Assistant Dean of University College and Assistant Dean for International Programs. Dick was Program Manager for International Organizations, International Programs and then Program Manager for Glaciology, Division of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation.
More recently Dick was an advisor to the NASA Office of Exploration with their research efforts to study planetary missions with long duration flights, and the impact of extreme environments on habitat design for Moon and Mars. He was acting Chairman of the Biological Science Department at Webster University and taught courses on geology, earth science, and polar exploration. Dick was Academic Director of Webster University’s campus in Leiden, The Netherlands and a staff member on tour ships cruising the Northwest Passage, Spitsbergen, and the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, and The Falkland Islands.
Frank Todd: Ornithology
Frank S. Todd was born and raised in Panama, where he commenced his lifelong passion with tropical wildlife. While curator of birds at the Los Angeles Zoo, he established one of the finest bird collections in the world, including the only California Condor at the time. Frank left the zoo in 1972 to become corporate vice-president of
aviculture and research at Sea World, Inc. Internationally known for his extensive work with waterfowl, Frank put together one of the most comprehensive exotic duck, goose and swan collections in San Diego. Frank was also responsible for numerous first captive breedings, including the initial toucan species.
A biologist and recognized authority on penguins, Frank has been working in Antarctica and the subantarctic for some 37 seasons. At the request of the National Science Foundation he established a breeding colony of Adelie and Emperor Penguins in San Diego to facilitate long-term, year-round research. At the time most experts were doubtful that Emperor Penguins could be kept, much less propagated, but many were ultimately reared. Frank pioneered the specialized techniques required to acquire penguins from eggs collected in Antarctica, resulting in many hundreds of penguins hatched and reared in the US, as well as numerous other polar birds. Frank was creator of the world-famous Sea World Penguin Encounters- when the initial one opened in San Diego in 1983, the facility was widely regarded by the experts as the most sophisticated animal habitat ever conceived. Ultimately some 1,500 penguins were maintained in the four Sea World Penguin Encounters, with all nine species breeding. Frank also spent many seasons in the Arctic working on waterfowl and alcids (puffins and auks, etc.), and an important component of the Penguin Encounters was a major alcid complex.
The author of seven books and over 100 technical and popular articles, Frank is also a noted wildlife photographer. He is presently finishing up four more books, including a major volume on the natural history of the penguins of the world. He is the recipient of numerous conservation and avicultural awards, including the US Polar Medal and the Gold Conservation Medal from the San Diego Zoological Society. Currently the executive director of EcoCepts International, Frank resides in San Diego, California, but travels the world over as a zoological consultant.
Scobie Pye: Naturalist/Driver
Terence (Scobie) Pye is a research scientist with a Master of Science degree from the University of Tasmania, Australia. Over the past 30 years, much of his life has been spent in southern latitudes working with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Australian Antarctic Division and the University of Tasmania.
Scobie has spent 4 winters and 7 summers on the sub-antarctic island of South Georgia, 2 summers on the floating ice station of Halley Bay in the Weddell Sea and 2 winters and 9 summers on Australia's Macquarie Island. Scobie's main scientific interests are focused on the conservation and management of the sub-antarctic islands, the impact of introduced mammals on these fragile ecosytems, sustainable tourism in the Antarctic and the history of the region. In 1978 Scobie was awarded the Fuchs Medal for outstanding service to the British Antarctic Survey. Scobie not only enjoys meeting and talking to people about his passion for the Antarctic but he also feels a kinship for the northern polar regions. Scobie brings his years of professional experience in the logistical support and safety of polar operations in Antarctica to Explorer's polar operations in the Arctic.
Julio Preller: Naturalist/Driver
Julio Preller was born and raised in Punta Arenas, Chile, but his family is from the Falkland Islands. At the age of 18 he moved to the Falklands where he worked as a Sheppard for some time. Upon returning to South America he worked as a tour guide in Patagonia until 1980 when he joined an Expedition ship which fed his spirit of adventure completely.
Coming from a seafaring family, he also started his own business with a sailboat for many years in the Chilean Fjords. Julio has traveled extensively around the world, but the Polar Regions have been his favorite places, and every new trip for him is like his first one, full of new things to see, and learn from other cultures and new experiences.
Tim Thomas: Naturalist/Driver
Tim has been working as an outdoors for over 25 years, in locations ranging from Nepal to New Guinea. This work included being a rafting, trekking, biking, sea kayaking, and ski guide and instructor. A native of Colorado, he teaches in the Adventure Education Department at Fort Lewis College. Among other topics, he instructs Mountaineering, Whitewater Kayaking, Backcountry Skiing, Rock Climbing, Expedition Camping Skills, Leadership and Experiential Education. Additionally, Tim works part time for the National Outdoor Leadership School instructing wilderness medicine courses.
Tim also has worked on expedition ships in the Antarctic as a naturalist, zodiac driver, safety and logistics coordinator, as well as taking guests sea kayaking and camping. Along with his many years in the field teaching and instructing, Tim is also an avid outdoor adventurer and traveller. Spending the turn of the millennia at the South Pole, and summiting Mt. McKinley in Alaska are among his favourite achievements. He has earned numerous guiding certifications and licenses and holds a Bachelors degree in Japanese Language and Literature from the University of Colorado.
Jeff Wiseman: Musician/Driver
A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Operatic Performance program, Jeff Wiseman is a multi-faceted individual: recording artist/singer/songwriter/choir director/concert performer and world traveler. His adventures have taken him to Austria, Scotland, South America and Australia. In August of 2009, he spent 10 days in Nunavut, camping with the Inuit as they traversed the Arctic tundra gathering their winter food supplies.
Jeff has a boundless enthusiasm for the outdoors, music and adventure. The summer of 2010 will see him take on an exciting new role as a member of the GAP Adventure Team.
Rodger Mills: Ship's Doctor
Rodger graduated with degrees in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1974, has a pos-graduate diploma in Obstetrics and fellowships in Emergency Medicine and Rural hospital Medicine. He is currently working as the Director of Emergency Medicine in a base hospital in The South Island of New Zealand.
Rodger is married with three adult children and along with wife Merrilyn is on his third polar expedition cruise.
He has business interests in farming and forestry. Recreational pursuits include most sports particularly long distance running, cycling, kayaking, skiing, golf and squash. He enjoys “adventure” travel to remote areas to enrich his knowledge and experience and to share these values with like-minded travelers.
His motto in life is to be passionate about what you do and learn something new every day of your life.
Osi Shahaf: Naturalist/Driver
Osi was born and raised in England.
When she was 20 she decided she wanted to travel and, having a sense of adventure and love of the wild, ended up volunteering on a kibbutz in Israel and stayed there for some time. Whilst there, she entered the banking world where she worked as an Investment Advisor in International Private Banking.
Among other things Osi has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, spent time studying the fauna of The Serengetti, volunteered for an animal rescue centre, the Israeli Police force, and more recently for a Biological research station on the Galapagos Islands.
The call of the wild and a final decision that the corporate world was not for her, Osi left her office of 27 years, to follow a dream and ventured for the Antarctic and fell in love with the Polar Ice.
She has returned to the Antarctic several times over a period of three years and worked there for four months driving around and hiking, looking for, finding , and studying as many animals as she could (her passion). She is looking forward to share with you the adventure and enjoyment of the Arctic, with long walks in the tundra to find the beautiful animals of the North.
Osi is a proud mother of three beautiful daughters and is now enjoying her new home in Canada.