Our Team in the Field
Tour leaders are an integral part of the Quest Nature Tours experience. They bring a particular expertise in some - and sometimes many - elements of the destination you are visiting and the theme we are exploring. They work with our expert local naturalists to help you see and experience more and to create a context for the observations you will make. Our leaders take care of logistical concerns in order to maximize your experience. Last but not least, they ensure your safety and comfort. We carefully select our leaders and match them to tours based on their experience, their interests, and their compatibility with the destination and tour theme. Meet our exceptional group of leaders below and see where they're heading next.
As a former faculty member in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph, Alan Watson taught nature interpretation, environmental stewardship and a conservation field course. With over 25 years of experience leading nature tours, Alan has guided groups in southern Ontario, Canada's Maritime Provinces, Trinidad and Tobago, the Lesser Antilles, Costa Rica, Brazil, Tanzania, and the Galapagos. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Chef Angus An is one of Vancouver’s most influential chef-restaurateurs, with six restaurants and eateries comprising his restaurant family: Fat Mao Noodles, Freebird Chicken Shack, Longtail Kitchen, Maenam, Popina Canteen, and Sen Pad Thai. A flavour-driven chef, Angus’s cuisine is rooted in technique; his combined fine-arts and French culinary training allow him to see cooking as a balance of art and science, resulting in recipes built on tradition, innovation and presentation. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Ann Haynes-Sutton is a conservation ecologist who has spent her working life in Jamaica. She is the senior author of “A photographic guide to the birds of Jamaica” published by Princeton University in 2009, and has been leading bird and natural history tours in Jamaica and other islands for many years. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Ann Kirkland is the founder of Classical Pursuits, which includes Toronto’s famed ‘salon in the sun’ and literary adventures around the world. Her latest brainchild is Most Liveable Cities, trips to people-oriented cities in both the developed and the developing world to get to know why their residents love to call them home. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Anne Gorsuch is an historian of the Soviet Union, and former Department Head, in the UBC History Department. A frequent traveller to Russia, she has published on the history of youth in revolutionary Russia, international tourism in the Khrushchev era, and Cuban-Soviet relations in the 1960s. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Bonnie Chartier was born and raised in Churchill, Manitoba. She has been involved in Churchill’s tourism industry since its inception and was instrumental in introducing the world to Churchill’s Polar Bears, Belugas, birds, and natural history. Bonnie’s familiarity with the Churchill region is boundless and guests quickly appreciate her tremendous wealth of knowledge! More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Brian Ratcliff is a biological consultant whose recent work includes collecting background data for environmental assessments of proposed “green energy” projects near Lake Superior. He has worked extensively with species at risk such as Peregrine Falcon, American White Pelican, and Woodland Caribou. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Caroline Schultz is the Executive Director at Ontario Nature. Caroline has directed Ontario Nature’s programs and operations since 2005. Caroline previously served as conservation director for the Canadian Nature Federation for 10 years, leading the organization’s national advocacy, science and stewardship programs. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Catherine Jardine is a staff ornithologist and data analyst with Birds Canada, based at the organization’s National Data Centre in Delta, B.C. She has conducted field projects in remote locations around the world and is the Bander-in-Charge at the Iona Island Bird Observatory. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
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 around the world. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Chris Harley is a professor in the Zoology Department and in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at UBC. He studies the forces that create ecological patterns in space and time in coastal ecosystems. Chris is particularly interested in how species interact with one another and respond to temperature, ocean acidification, and other challenges in their environment. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Dan Riskin, PhD, is a television personality, scientist, and author. He is best known in Canada as the co-host of Discovery's flagship science program, Daily Planet, and elsewhere as the host of Animal Planet's hugely successful show about parasites, Monsters Inside Me. He is passionate about wildlife, especially the underappreciated creatures that he thinks deserve a closer look. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Debbie Ross, founder of Womens Travel Network has been providing travel services to her customers for over 30 years. Her travel around the globe has been extensive. Be it relaxing holidays, trekking or sports related, she has first hand knowledge of many varied travel experiences. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
One of Canada’s best-known theatre practitioners, Derek Boyes has been an actor and director in more than 150 productions from coast to coast in North America. He has been an ensemble member of The Soulpepper Theatre Company since 2004 and a resident artist there since 2008. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
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. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Dylan White grew up in the city but fell in love with wild places and the creatures that inhabit them long before he could walk. It is this lifelong passion for experiencing, conserving and learning about nature has motivated his work. He is a professional ecologist with 10 years of experience on more than 175 diverse projects, and moonlights as a wilderness and wildlife guide. A new Quest Nature Tours leader, Dylan is well-travelled with excursions spanning from Southern Africa to South America and the Arctic regions. He is also a devout musician! More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Faye Wightman, BSN'81 (Nursing)'s life work has focused on the not for profit sector as a leader and change agent focusing on philanthropy, management and governance. An exciting career heading up the largest community foundations and one of the top children’s hospital foundations allowed her make an impact on thousands of lives. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Fred Lee is Director of Alumni Engagement at alumni UBC, and a regular contributor to The CBC, The Province, and Vancouver Magazine. A tireless volunteer, Fred had held numerous roles chairing various organizations. His efforts have been cited in many arenas, including the National Post’s Worthy 30 list. Fred is mad about modernism and regularly attends Modernism Week. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
The Coordinator for the Maryland Breeding Bird Atlas, Gabriel Foley grew up on a small farm in southeastern Ontario, where his curiosity cultivated an appreciation and wonder for nature. After receiving a diploma in fish and wildlife conservation from Sault College, he headed west to Saskatchewan to pursue undergraduate studies in Biology. Subsequently he completed graduate studies on the Common Nighthawk. He is an obsessive birder and outdoorsman and is passionate about sharing his love of nature with others. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
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. He is one of Canada’s most knowledgeable plant experts. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Gavan Watson is a third-generation naturalist and a second-generation Quest tour leader. While completing his PhD at York University, he developed and taught a popular experiential natural history course. Now at the University of Guelph, he works to enhance the quality of teaching and learning on-campus. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Past-President of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, Glenn Barrett has a degree in Wildlife Biology and has worked in outdoor education programming for educational institutions and as a Wildlife Technician for Environment Canada since 1994. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
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. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
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. In 2019, Howard was named a member of the Order of Canada (C.M.) for his influence on the wine industry. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Jaya Basera is a heritage consultant with an extensive research background with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. An enthusiastic communicator, Jaya brings a real passion to her tours, connecting the arts to the people engaged in preserving traditions. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
A past president of the Ontario Field Ornithologists and retired school principal, Jean Iron is active writing for nature publications and participating in Wildlife Surveys for the Ministry of Natural Resources. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Jessica Linton is a consulting biologist who specializes in butterflies. Based in Ontario, her work has a heavy focus on species-at-risk including butterflies, the wildlife group about which Jessica is most passionate. She has over 10 years of experience conducting butterfly surveys, behavioral monitoring, and migration studies. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Josh Vandermeulen is a professional Field Biologist and is an active and well-known member of Ontario’s naturalist community. He regularly travels the province in pursuit of his two core interests, field herpetology and ornithology. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Judy Rogers is a former Chair of the UBC Alumni Association (2011 – 2014). She is a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Public Service in BC and was recently awarded the Order of Canada for her outstanding contributions to municipal government and the community. Judy is based in Vancouver and is an active lover of the outdoors. Judy is a veteran of many walks, including as host of the alumni UBC Travel Club’s “Peru’s Sacred Valley” walk in 2018. Judy will be accompanied by our UK-based walking guide. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Julia Zarankin is an award-winning writer and lecturer who regularly teaches courses to lifelong learners about Russian and European culture and literature. She regularly shares her passion for cultural history with Toronto audiences at Hot Docs Curious Minds, the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
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. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Justin Peter is Quest Nature Tours' Director of Programs and senior naturalist. Justin was most recently the senior naturalist at Ontario’s world-renowned Algonquin Park, where he coordinated the park’s interpretive program and acted as lead howler for the celebrated Public Wolf Howl events. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Katsu Sakuma had already established himself in the paddling business before moving to Canada with his family in 1999. It was therefore a natural move to begin his career in Canada as a canoe guide in Algonquin Park. With an active interest in natural history and wild spaces, he expanded his activities to Vancouver Island as well as the Yukon River. Since 2007, Katsu has worked as a Seasonal Park Naturalist in Algonquin Park during each fall colour season. He is passionate about connecting Canadians and visitors to our country’s vast wild spaces! More >UPCOMING TOURS >
L. John Harris is a food writer, filmmaker, cartoonist and cookbook publisher. He played a founding role in the food revolution that started in Berkeley, California, in the late ’60s and spread across North America. Harris is the author of The Book of Garlic, Foodoodles and Café French, among others. From his earliest visits to Paris in 1963, he has been drawn to the “third space” of the café as a place to work, daydream, observe and seek inspiration. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Laurielle is one of the principals of Worldwide Quest, managing director, designer of new programs and planner of Signature Moments. She works principally with our Cultural Explorations portfolio and with customized travel programs for cultural institutions and affinity groups. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
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. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Lewie Gonsalves, our peripatetic president, has over 40 years’ experience researching and organizing trips throughout the world. As well as designing and leading our President’s Tours, Lewie is also chief designer of our Private Journey collection of tailored tours. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Lisa Pasold is a Canadian writer who divides her time between Paris and New Orleans. She is currently the host of Discovery’s travel show, “Paris Next Stop.” She has published a novel and three books of poetry. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Lori Dalton is an enthusiastic tour leader, personal life coach and gifted speaker. She uses her excellent people skills to ensure that everyone is enjoying, learning and growing while on tour with her. Her joie de vivre makes every journey with her fun-filled and stress free. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Lynette Hartley has worked in the conservation field in New Zealand for over 20 years. She is passionately invested in protecting New Zealand’s threatened native ecosystems, and is active in habitat restoration activities. Lynette is also an accomplished nature artist. She will look forward to hosting you on our tour! More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Lynn Kanuka is an Olympic medalist and WalkRun coach. She is best known for her Bronze medal performance at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. For over 25 years Lynn has inspired people of all ages and ability levels through physical fitness to take steps toward better health, achieve personal goals, and be active and happy. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Manoj Abraham heads up the logistics team in our Delhi office. Whether designing tours with a painstaking attention to detail or leading our travellers across Asia, Manny draws on his exceptional network of contacts to create intimate and enriching experiences. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Manuel Grosselet has been a field ornithologist and bird guide for more than two decades, with a particular interest in Mexico. In addition to having completed numerous field studies on birds internationally, he has produced three bird field guides covering Mexico’s bird life. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Marc Webber is a marine mammal specialist with an undergraduate and graduate degree from San Francisco State University. He has worked as a biologist and refuge manager for non-profit organizations and the US government for his entire career in places all over the United States. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Marisa Mae has trained clients 1:1 and in small groups for over 8 years on the beautiful west coast in Vancouver, British Columbia. She creates and leads programs, workshops, and workouts for UBC Faculty of Medicine Department of Paediatrics and BC Children’s Hospital employees/staff in Vancouver, BC. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Melanie Blake is the executive director of Classical Pursuits and organizer of the annual Toronto Pursuits cultural salon. She studied English and French at Fordham University and the Université de Montpellier, and has an MA in literature and linguistics from the University of Nottingham. She loves languages, cocktails, and the unexpected. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Michael Gervers is a medieval historian who has taught at the University of Toronto for the past 40 years. He has travelled and researched extensively throughout Ethiopia and is particularly familiar with the sites along the historic route to the north. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Mike Kent is an excellent all-round naturalist and educator based in southwestern Ontario. He has worked as a Park Naturalist at Ontario’s Killbear Provincial Park and the famous Algonquin Provincial Park, and as a Tour Manager at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens in Costa Rica’s highland cloud forests. He has a keen and abiding interest in all life forms with a particular fondness for insects, fungi and other under-appreciated groups. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Nathan is a naturalist-in-training with Worldwide Quest. In recent years, he has been pursuing studies in Zoology at UBC’s Okanagan campus and working during his summers as a Seasonal Park Naturalist at Algonquin Provincial Park. An avid and budding explorer, Nathan’s travels have taken him to the India’s Western Ghats for a school research project, and he previously worked as an intern at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens in the Costa Rican highlands. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Nico Visser is our favourite Namibian leader. Hailing from the country’s southeast, he is well versed in all the country’s vast wild spaces and he has an exceptional ability to spot wildlife. Quest travellers particularly appreciate his affable and caring manner. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
A resident of Rankin Inlet, Page Burt has lived and worked for many years in the Arctic. She is the longtime staff naturalist at the famous Bathurst Inlet Lodge. A botanist by training, she has conducted floral surveys in many areas of the Arctic. She has keen insights on life in the Arctic and has been a popular resource staff aboard our Canada's Northwest Passage expedition More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Patrick Moldowan is a devoted lifelong interpretive naturalist with a special interest in herpetology and biogeography. Currently pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, he also devotes considerable time to long-term studies of amphibians and turtles at Algonquin Park’s Wildlife Research Station. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
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. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Hailing from Mumbai, Payal Mehta was raised a city girl but has always loved the outdoors, and has branched out much beyond her formal training in geology to become well-versed in India’s wonderful wildlife and varied habitats. She is our choice naturalist guide in India and our Quest travellers always delight at her skill in interpreting India’s nature and cultures too. She knows India’s Ladakh region well with previous experience on Snow Leopard expeditions. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Pete Read travels the world on the lookout for amazing landscapes of the most remote kind. A well-known naturalist, Pete brings a special focus on wildlife and wild places to our tours. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Peter Prontzos MA'86, Instructor Emeritus in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies at Langara College in Vancouver has taught Political Science for over 25 years. His articles have appeared in print and online and he has worked in both radio and television. Peter’s personal ties to Greece make this a very special experience. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Rick was the Host and Producer of SOUND ADVICE, the weekly guide to classical music and recordings, heard across Canada on CBC. He’s often a juror in the classical music categories for the Juno Awards. Rick holds a B. Mus. from McGill University and a M. Mus. from the University of Toronto. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Sarah Bancroft is a Canadian media personality currently based in Vancouver with a home in Palm Springs. She co-founded the trendsetting web-native magazine VitaminDaily in 2004 which was acquired by Glacier Media in 2013. Before that, Bancroft was a senior editor at Vancouver magazine, and at FASHION magazine. She holds a Master's degree in Political Science, speaks English and French, and is fluent in all matters sartorial. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Sarah Richardson returns to the Ganges for a second time as the study leader for this voyage. Sara is a historian of the arts and religions of South Asia with a specialization in Buddhist visual and material practice. Sarah holds a PhD from the University of Toronto (2016), and is currently teaching courses as a Lecturer in the History of Religions for the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Sean Forester is a San Francisco–based artist and lecturer. He lived in Italy for ten years and trained as a classical painter at the Florence Academy of Art. Sean is Director of Art History, Humanities, and Composition at the Golden Gate Atelier.UPCOMING TOURS >
Sherry Kirkvold brings a deep love of nature along with her more than 30 years of experience as a naturalist, geographer and expedition leader. She has worked in the national, provincial and regional park systems as well as museums in British Columbia. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Sherry Glanville is a member of the Winnipeg Art Gallery Volunteer Associates. As a painter, Sherry’s travel interests focus on art and its place in the lives of people from other cultures. Bill Glanville has travelled extensively professionally and personally for over 40 years. As a team, Bill and Sherry have coordinated and hosted 14 travel tours for WAG. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
A keen Rajasthani horse polo player, Shiv Pratap Singh is involved in the preservation and curation of the region’s art and architecture including his family’s holdings. His extensive personal connections to people and places ensure very special insider moments for our travellers. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Tony Beck is a freelance naturalist and professional photographer based in Ottawa. His award winning work appears in many books, websites, magazines & calendars. He teaches birdwatching and nature photography courses both independently and through a variety of institutions. Tony has earned the rank of Ambassador for Nikon Canada. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
Vikram Vij is an Indian-born Canadian chef, cookbook author, and television personality. He is a passionate supporter of the sustainable food industry and has championed many causes including the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood Program and the UBC Farm. More >UPCOMING TOURS >
For more than 30 years Wayne has practiced meditation from a number of spiritual traditions. He has chanted Dzikr with Sufi Pir's (saints), sung spiritual songs with Hindu priests, and sat in meditation with Buddhist monks. Wayne is a practicing Unitarian Universalist minister in Toronto. More >Contact us to be the first to know when this leader is travelling next!
Dr. Wendy O'Brien is a celebrated philosopher, teacher and interviewer. With over 30 years experience teaching in post-secondary education, she's given talks and led seminars on creativity, beauty and wonder at Humber College, Oxford University, Harvard, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Women's Art Association, Classical Pursuits and The International Festival of Authors. More >UPCOMING TOURS >