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).