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Lives Lived: Loss of an extraordinary geographer and friend

Robert Gilbert passed away on April 27 after a brave battle with cancer. We have lost an extraordinary geographer and friend.

[Professor Emeritus Robert Gilbert]
Robert Gilbert

Professor Gilbert was a highly productive, dedicated and creative scientist. He joined the Geography Department at Queen’s University in 1975 from the University of Alberta where he was a Postdoctoral Fellow.

He received his BA, MA and PhD degrees from the University of British Columbia in 1968, 1970 and 1972 respectively.

At Queen’s, his research focused on the processes that occur in lakes and the sea, especially on how sediments are delivered to, distributed through, and deposited in water bodies in the Great Lakes region, western Canada, the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica, Nepal and the southern United States. In 2004, he and a team of international researchers discovered an active underwater volcano off the coast of Antarctica that towered 700 metres above the ocean floor. Professor Gilbert led by example through his passion for research and a deep commitment to teaching at all levels.

Professor Gilbert taught undergraduate courses in Earth System Science, physical limnology and arctic and periglacial environments. At the graduate level he taught and supervised students in lacustrine and marine systems. Throughout his distinguished career, he has been a champion for the discipline.

 Dr. Gilbert established the Robert Gilbert Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Geography in 2007. The purpose of this award is to support young scholars in the field of Physical Geography/Earth System Science for a two-year postdoctoral experience.

These postdoctoral fellows work closely on research projects affiliated with a faculty member in the Department of Geography at Queen's. At the time the Fellowship was established Bob said, “it seemed like a useful thing to do in this department to enhance the research. There’s limited funding for post-docs in any field. There are always more people wanting to take up a post-doc than there are funds to support them.”

To date, the department has welcomed three Robert Gilbert Postdoctoral Fellows, with the fourth to start in July 2015.

Paul Treitz is Professor and Head of the Department of Geography