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News Release 18-097

Contractual employee dies at NSF's Palmer Station, Antarctica

Death attributed to natural causes

Palmer Station, Antarctica in February of 2015.

Palmer Station, Antarctica, in February of 2018.

October 24, 2018

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

An employee for a subcontractor to the National Science Foundation's Antarctic logistics contractor has died of natural causes at Palmer Station, Antarctica. The death occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. Chile Summer Time (CLST) on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

The employee's next of kin have been notified. NSF is not releasing any medical or personal information on the deceased.

The U.S. Embassy in Chile has been informed of the situation. Palmer Station is on the Antarctic Peninsula, south of Chile.

The individual's body will remain at Palmer Station until the research vessel Laurence M. Gould arrives on site in approximately a day. The vessel is already en route to the station. The Gould is home-ported in Punta Arenas, Chile, and shuttles researchers and support personnel to Palmer Station, which is generally a four-day passage.

Out of respect for the family of the deceased, the ship's return date is not being released.

"All of us in the U.S. Antarctic Program are saddened by this tragic news," said Kelly Falkner, head of NSF's Office of Polar Programs. "Our thoughts are with family and friends, and colleagues. We appreciate the decades of service this individual contributed to the program."


Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7530, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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