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Background and interests

I am a teacher, lecturer and study leader on international tours. I enjoy meeting people and sharing with them what I know. Fundamentally, I am a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher who loves to get listeners excited about diverse subjects, often opening them to new worlds of knowledge. My presentations are well-organized and structured, tailored to the specific location and very informative. I lecture without notes, to be more dynamic, and all of my lectures are accompanied by beautiful power points that are visually-clear and well-labeled and which include my own photos, as well as diagrams and maps.

I have always had diverse interests (BS Chemistry, PhD Geology and MA Art History), which now include geology and natural history; Western and Non-Western art history; culture and religion. I was a professor at Colorado College for 21 years, and I have taught courses in geology, ecology, art history, anthropology and ethnic studies. I currently teach part-time at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, where I reside with my husband, Dan O’Brien, who often accompanies me on trips. I have taught geology and anthropology in France (in French), I have worked as a geologist in Iran and as an interior designer in Saudi Arabia. I am a volcanologist who has studied volcanoes all over the world. As an art historian, I have focused on the representation of racial, ethnic and religious “others” in art and on what that tells us about the attitudes of the dominant culture. My current interests center on religion (in whose service most of the world’s art and architecture has been made), particularly the history of the interaction between Christianity and Islam; on the contrast between monotheistic and polytheistic traditions and world views; and on Eastern religions and their philosophical differences from the West (I am a Buddhist). I have a particular interest in architecture, which like the Earth, must be understood in three dimensions.

Because of my broad background and interests, I can be an effective study leader on a wide variety of tours, often lecturing on both geology and on art, religion and culture. I have been a study leader for over 30 tours with the Smithsonian Institution and the American Museum of Natural History. I have lectured on small expedition cruise ships (< 100 passengers), on somewhat larger cruise ships (~350 passengers), on private train tours, on private jet tours, and on ground-based tours. I have traveled extensively in Western Europe (Ireland, England, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal); in the circum-Mediterranean region (including Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey); in the Arctic (including Alaska, Hudson’s Bay, Iceland, Svalbard and Siberia); in Japan, the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka; along the Silk Road in Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan); to western and eastern China; to Mexico and Costa Rica, to New Zealand and Australia; and I have twice flown around the world (Peru, Easter Island, Samoa, Australia, Cambodia, Tibet, India, Tanzania, Egypt and Morocco). I have been to every continent, except Antarctica (which I look forward to seeing someday). I enjoy learning about the geology, culture and art history of different places, and I am a quick study who is thoroughly-prepared as a study leader, even for trips to places I have not previously visited.