Fritz Kessler


I began my career in geography at Ohio University (a small state school located in Athens, OH) as a math major. During the summer between my junior and senior years, I took an elective course in physical geography. During the first day's lecture, the professor described "human" and "physical" as the two spheres of geography. He then added a side-bar comment that geographers also make maps. I was intrigued. After talking with the department's cartography professor later that day, I switched majors to geography - specializing in cartography. After graduation, I worked for the US Geological Survey (USGS) as a Cartographic Technician creating maps and illustrations for various USGS publications. Desirous to advance my cartographic knowledge, I returned to academia and received my MS degree from Penn State. Here, I developed an expert system designed to assist in the selection of an appropriate map projection. My next career stop was a Systems Analyst for Intergraph Corporation in Huntsville, AL. I decided to return to map making and took a position with R. R. Donnelley and Sons in a small cartographic shop in Lancaster, PA. Eventually, I enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Kansas where I studied cartography and geographic visualization. My professional academic career started as a faculty member at Frostburg State University (FSU) in August 1999. Located in Frostburg, MD, FSU is a very small state school in Western Maryland. While at FSU, I taught courses in cartography, cartometrics, surveying, GIS, research methods, statistics, and other geographically related topics. I began teaching part-time through Penn State's World Campus in 2007 where I offered a course in datums, map projections, and coordinate systems. This course is still offered today as GEOG 897K: Map Projections for GIS Professionals. In June of 2015, I resigned my position at FSU and accepted an offer to join Penn State full-time. In addition to GEOG 586, my teaching responsibilities focus on cartography courses (both online and resident students). I have amassed a solid research and publication record focusing mostly cartographically related topics. Specific research focus includes map projections, cartographic design, and history of cartography. I take on an active role in two cartographic societies: North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) and Cartography and Geographic Information Science (CaGIS).

Course Spotlight

From Meteorology to Mitigation: Understanding Global Warming (METEO 469) - learn about the fundamentals of climate change and its impact on societal, environmental, and economic policies. Visit the course.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Richard Alley

Dr. Richard Alley has been with us since the beginning, with one of our first OPEN courses - Geology of the National Parks. See what he has to say about the OPEN.ED effort over ten years later.