20131016_liz vasile_studio_ff-Elizabeth Vasile

Historical Geographer, Program Director, Guide

Genius Loci is directed by Elizabeth (“Liz”) Vasile, an historical geographer/ethnographer with a specialty in urban history and cultural landscape studies, the urban experience of immigrant, outlier, and contrarian groups and movements, and a passion for understanding the interrelated makings of place and culture. ¬† Liz uses the ¬†field as the ground from which to learn, teach, and interpret ¬†the world to herself and to others. ¬† She¬†came to cultural tourism following a career in teaching, research, and consulting, which included the design and implementation of ¬†cultural field studies, in the U.S. and internationally, and university level teaching.

Raised abroad  in a multicultural and multilingual family, at an early age Liz became savvy to cultural nuance and sensitive to the power and meaning of  different landscapes.  With support from a Fulbright fellowship, she conducted field research in Tunisia and France, and earned a Ph.D. in geography from the University of California at Berkeley.  Liz has also lived for years at a time in Spain, Chile, Thailand, and Mexico.  She has taught regional studies (Latin America, Middle East & North Africa), migration studies, and urban field geography at UC Berkeley, and cartography and cultural landscape studies at the Pennsylvania State University.  Her academic research examined the interplay of urbanization, migration, and social movements.

Liz is fluent in English and Spanish, and guides tours in both languages.  She is also near fluent in French,  and gets by  in  Arabic and Greek.  A graduate of the  International Tour Management Institute (ITMI), Liz is licensed as a tour guide and operator by the City and County of San Francisco, where she designs and guides a variety of specialty and general tours.

Liz is a member of  the California Historical Society,  the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Association of American Geographers, the National Council on Public History, and the Institute for Historical Study.  She has also served as board vice-president of  San Francisco Tour Guide Guild.  For the  last 25 years, in tandem with long stints living in New York city and abroad, she has made her home in the San Francisco bay area.


 Robert Riggle

 Technical Director

Rob is our resident ¬†expert for all things technical and mechanical, particularly where sound is concerned. ¬†He served 20 years in the US Air Force, ¬†as an aircraft mechanic and leadership instructor. ¬†He’s also been a dedicated musician for over 40 years, owned a jazz club, and ¬†is a skilled audio engineer. ¬†Rob cuts and mixes the audio clips that make our walking tours extra special, and manages the closed circuit sound equipment. ¬†He also keeps everyone in line and on the sidewalks, though he has strict instructions not to make us march in formation! ¬†Rob has traveled extensively in the US and Europe, and lived for over 10 years ¬†in Spain and England. ¬†He is fluent in Spanish.