ABOUT US

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ALEXANDRA EDWARDS

Ethnoastronomer and Polynesian Studies Expert

Leading the search for definitive answers

Alexandra is an ethnoastronomer and documentarian currently working at the Rapanui Planetarium and Observatory, where she also conducts research in Cultural Anthropology. For over 25 years, she has carried out ethnographic and archaeological studies for projects that shed light on the life and times of the many different cultures and civilizations that developed within the auspices of the Pacific, the largest ocean in the world. Originally a Latin-American Studies and Film major from Wesleyan University, Alexandra spent several years in Connecticut, New York, and Washington DC before returning to Rapa Nui (a.k.a. Easter Island), the place she has called home since 1995. Alexandra is an Explorers Club Fellow, having participated in six Explorers Club Flag expeditions and contributed to several documentary projects carried out by National Geographic, the BBC, the History and Smithsonian Channels, and CNBC Canada, working in places as diverse as Kosrae, Pohnpei, Rapa Nui, Ra’ivavae, and the Marquesas and Society Islands.  She is the co-author of When the Universe was an Island: Exploring the Cultural and Spiritual Cosmos of Ancient Rapa Nui, a comprehensive volume about Rapanui ethnography, mythology, and history. Alexandra complements her research work conducting private tours, and lecturing aboard expedition cruise ships about her favorite parts of the world: the Americas, Oceania, and Southeast Asia.

Teaching is in my blood

Dr. Dale F. Simpson Jr. is an American anthropological archaeologist who specializes in Pacific cultures, working extensively in New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Australia, and particularly Rapa Nui (a.k.a Easter Island) where he has been active since 2001.  Dale has also considerable experience doing archaeological and anthropological work in the U.S and Canada, and furthered his forensic archaeology skills in the U.S. and Russia.  From 2013–2017, Dale was a Centennial Scholar at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where he earned his Ph.D. and began working on the Rapa Nui Geochemical Project with his mentor and professor, renowned archaeologist Marshall Weisler and scientist Laure Dussubieux, along with more than 30 collaborators from 20 institutions around the globe.  Dale’s  father, aunt, and uncle were all college instructors, and since 2009, he has held both full–time and adjunct instructor positions at the North Central College, College of DuPage, and Malcolm X College, all in Illinois, teaching courses in Anthropology and Archaeology. He has conducted and participated in multiple educational outreach programs throughout the world, including on Rapa Nui and in Australia and the U.S.. His goal as a teacher is to share his passion for anthropology with his students and get them to think globally: “We can solve our problems by looking at other cultures’ problems and seeing how they solve them. We just have to have that cross-cultural awareness. And that’s one thing I always try to put forward and tell my students, that you’ll know so much more of your culture, by experiencing and learning about another.” Dale was a host on the History Channel’s “FOUND” program and a contributor for the Science Channel’s “What on Earth” program. 

Dr. DALE SIMPSON Jr.

Anthropological Archaeologist

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PHOEBE OLSEN

Osteoarchaeologist and Archeaologist

A perfectionist in every detail

Phoebe Olsen is an Irish Osteoarchaeologist and Archaeologist who has worked extensively in Southern England in sites dating from the Neolithic to more modern Medieval times, and ranging from rural settlements to burial complxes, to urban deep-stratigraphy remains. Phoebe started working at Wessex Archaeology in 2013, with whom, amongst other projects, she unearthed a Saxon cemetery next to a Neolithic monument in Wiltshire and deconstructed Bronze Age cremation urns in Kent. Phoebe was also employed by CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), France where she was responsible for the sorting and preliminary analysis of macrofaunal remains recovered from a Chalcolithic tell in Naçxivan (Azerbaijan).  Being of Danish and Irish stock and growing up in a bilingual household, Phoebe felt drawn to Viking history and languages from an early age, eventually attending the University College Cork (National University of Ireland, Cork) where she earned degrees in both Archaeology and Italian. Phoebe furthered her Archaeology education at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom where she earned a Masters degree in Osteoarchaeology while also working as teaching assistant for undergraduate Archaeology courses in Comparative Anatomy Modules and in postgraduate Osteoarchaeology. During this time she also contributed to projects at the Hants and White Maritime Archaeological Trust analysing side-scan sonar and sub-bottom profiling recordings for evidence of undersea shipwrecks. In 2017 Phoebe began working on expedition cruise ships as a lecturing archaeologist and zodiac driver, eventually stepping-up to Expedition Leader for Noble Caledonia. Phoebe has lived in Hong Kong and Italy and now when she’s off the ships, she returns to her home in Ireland.

The ultimate history buff

Seb Coulthard was born in London, raised in Ecuador, and completed his higher education in England. He is an accomplished historian specialising in maritime exploration and also an award-winning sailor, aircraft operator, engineer, documentarian, and explorer whose adventures have taken him from the Amazonian Rainforest to the Atacama Desert. Seb’s considerable knowledge of Pitcairn history landed him a role as technical adviser and scriptwriter in the BBC’s latest and most ambitious production recounting the mutiny on the HMS Bounty. As an empirical historian, Seb achieved fame in 2013 by participating in The Shackleton Epic Expedition, the most audacious and faithful re-enactment of Ernest Shackleton’s 830-nautical-mile voyage from Elephant Island across the Southern Ocean on a 23 ft-long replica of Shackleton’s lifeboat, followed by a three-day mountain crossing of South Georgia, achieving their perilous mission consuming no more than what little food Shackleton had available to him and using the same clothing and equipment. Seb’s latest expedition took him to the  Arabian Peninsula where he followed in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia, travelling unsupported on camelback in temperatures exceeding 45ºC, to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Aqaba, one of the most influential military victories of World War I. Seb travelled extensively between British Overseas Territories, from the South Atlantic to the Indian Ocean in the fifteen years he served the Royal Navy, retiring with good conduct in 2016. He is member of the prestigious Explorers Club for which he was the former Chapter Chair for Great Britain, as well as a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society; his close ties with the latter and the Royal Navy puts him in a privileged position to access material pertinent to Pitcairn and our expedition. He is also a IAATO certified Antarctic field guide and is committed to education delivering presentations that further knowledge of Antarctica and the Pacific.

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SEB COULTHARD

Historian and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

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