EP07 – Bob Gilmore – From ‘fuel guy’ in Antarctica’s interior to polar citizen science trailblazer

Today we bring you the story of Bob Gilmore, a former McMurdo base staff member and longtime polar expedition guide who supported both the on-the-ground research projects on the continent and then went on to spearhead polar citizen science programs on tourism expedition vessels.

Bob doing science with guests

In this episode, Bob tells his story of how he came to work in Antarctica to begin with in charge of fuel which allowed him the amazing opportunity of going deep into the continent and learn first hand about glacial science. He returned to the US after a few seasons to become a 7th-grade teacher, but the polar bug had bitten him hard and it was only a matter of time, a bit of luck, and the right person giving him the chance that brought him back to the Great White Continent as an expedition guide.

Collecting phytoplankton samples in Antarctica

And while guiding and teaching guests about the things he was passionate about was great, Bob saw an opportunity to really leverage the regular tourist ship presence in Antarctica to directly support scientists in institutions back in North America by gathering data on their behalf, and thus, the Polar Citizen Science program was born.

Have a listen to his incredibly fascinating and engaging story, and leave us a review on iTunes, Stitcher, PocketCasts, or wherever you listen to episodes.


3:17 – How Bob got a job in fuel management at McMurdo Station in Antarctica

4:45 – The role of fuel in the US Antarctic program (it’s everything!)

5:30 – How his job allowed him to go out into the field, into the dry valleys and assist in ice core drilling projects, learning about polar science

6:35 – Bob goes back to the US to teach 7th grade

7:20 – Susan Adie gives Bob a break which allows him to get back to Antarctica, but this time on an expedition ship

9:15 – the genesis of the citizen science work that Bob spearheaded on expedition ships

11:05 – Bob proposes bringing science onto the ship that passengers can participate in and management at Polar Latitudes says yes

11:30 – Bob starts cold calling scientists – old school! – to see who needs the data he would be able to collect

13:40 – Citizen Science in the polar regions is exploding in popularity

15:15 – Citizen Science doesn’t just help scientists, it changes the travelers who are involved in collecting the data forever

16:30 – Bob tells us about his biggest challenges in developing the Citizen Science program in Antarctica

19:15 – The Arctic is changing even faster than the Antarctic and more resources are needed to help scientists get a better understanding of what’s unfolding year over year

21:00 – What’s next for Citizen Science?

24:00 – How individuals and organizations can learn more about getting involved in polar citizen science


Polar Citizen Science Collective

Polar Latitudes


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