Fritz C. Kessler

Fritz Kessler

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
2217 Earth & Engineering Sciences Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802

Physical Office Address:
416 Earth & Engineering Sciences Building

(814) 863-1508 (The country code for the United States is 1)



Hello, I'm Fritz Kessler. I am a Teaching Professor in the Department of Geography. My primary duties involve teaching several online courses through the Masters of Geographic Information Systems (MGIS) Program, conducting research in cartography, and participating in academic and professional service activities. I also teach resident-based courses through the Department of Geography. 


PhD in Geography, emphasis in cartography and geographical visualization, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 1999.
Dissertation Topic: The U-Boat Narrative: A Computer-Based Exploration of the 1939-1945 U-boat Conflict.
Advisor: Terry Slocum

MS in Geography, emphasis in cartography, map projections, and expert system design, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 1991.
Thesis Topic: MaPSS: An Expert System Designed to Assist a User in the Selection of a Suitable Map Projection.
Advisor: Alan MacEachren

BS in Geography, emphasis in cartography, minors in Mathematics and History, Ohio University, Athens, OH, 1988.
Advisor: Huberts Blömer

Current CV: Click here

Employment History

Prior to joining Penn State full time, I was Professor and Chair at Frostburg State University (FSU) for 16 years. For those of you not familiar with Frostburg, it is a small town (only five traffic lights) in western Maryland at the extreme eastern edge of the Appalachian Plateau. While at FSU, my teahcing efforts included cartography oriented courses such as Fundamentals of Cartography, Applied Design in the Mapping Sciences, Geographic Visualization, Surveying, and Cartometrics. Closely associated with these courses are Spatial Analysis, Research Methods in Geography, and Introduction to GIS. I also taught Introduction to Physical Geography and The Geography of Infectious Diseases. So, my academic plate carries with it a considerable buffet of palatable entrees.

Aside from my academic career, I have had considerable experience in many different facets of cartography. I worked as a Cartographic Technician at the United States Geologic Survey where I prepared maps and scientific illustrations for research scientists in the Water Resources Division. I was a Systems Analyst for Intergraph Corp. where I performed various programming duties in C. I was a Cartographer for R. R. Donnelley and Sons (which was later absorbed by MapQuest). I was employed with the Kansas Geological Survey where I produced maps of aquifers, soils, and geology (back in the days of command line driven ArcInfo workstation). One of my more enjoyable positions was a map librarian with the T. R. Smith Map Library at the University of Kansas.

Research Interests and Service

My publications and research interests have mainly focused on map projections. For instance, I completed a co-authored book with Dr. Sarah Battersby titled Working with Map Projections: A Guide to their Selection. This book presents guidelines on how to select a map projection. I also co-authored Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization. My contribution included three chapters on map projections. This co-authored work covers a considerable range of cartographic topics from map design to virtual and mixed environments. I have several publications and ongoing research related to map projections. I have contributed to the UCGIS Body of Knowledge writing entries on "Horizontal Datums" and "Vertical Datums." I co-authored a chapter titled "Map Projections and the Internet" for Choosing a Map Projection a book published by the International Cartographic Association and an authored chapter on projections appearing in the International Encyclopedia on Human Geography and contributed to Mapping America.

I am active in the service to the cartographic community in the following capacities. I was president of the North American Cartographic and Information Society (NACIS). As part of NACIS, I am also a member of the Editorial Board of Cartographic Perspectives, a peer-reviewed open access journal. I also serve as a member of editorial board for Cartographic Perspectives and serve as the Section Editor of "Views on Cartographic Education.". I was a boad member for Cartography and Geographic Information Science, am a member of the Pennsylvania State Geospatial Committee, and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Maps and Geography Libraraies.

Selected Publications: Books

2019. Kessler, Fritz and Battersby, Sarah. Working with Map Projections: A Guide to their Selection. 1st ed., CRC Press, Boca Raton: FL.

2009. Slocum, Terry, McMaster, Robert, Kessler, Fritz, and Howard, Hugh. Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization. 3rd ed., Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River: NJ.

Selected Publications: Peer Reviewed Articles

2021. King, Beth and Kessler, Fritz. “Study Abroad in an Embedded Online Geography Class for Adult Working Professionals” In Experiential Leaning in Geography: Experience, Evaluation, and Encounters. Ed. Jonathan Wessell. Springer. Zürich, Switzerland. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-82087-9 

2021. Gallagher, Patricia and Fritz Kessler. Developing Map Marginalia Design Standards for the Alaskan Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys. Report of Investigation 2021-2. Alaskan Department of Natural Resources. Fairbanks: AK.

2020. Geyer, Nathaniel R.; Kessler, Fritz C.; Lengerich, Eugene J. "LionVu 2.0 Usability Assessment for Pennsylvania, United States." ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 9, no. 11: 619. doi: 10.3390/ijgi9110619

2018. Kessler, Fritz. “Map Projection Education in Cartography Textbooks: A Content Analysis.” Cartographic Perspectives. No. 90. doi: 10.14714/CP90.1449

2018. Kamptner, Erika and Kessler, Fritz. “What Motivates OpenStreetMap Users? Comparing User Contributions to Small-Scale Crisis Events.” GeoJournal. doi: 10.1007/s10708-018-9912-1

2017. Kessler, Fritz and Slocum, Terry. “Is the Map Losing its Power? A Survey of the Map's Changing Role in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers,” in Changing World Language Map, Ed. Stanley Brunn. (Forthcoming)

2017. Kessler, F. C., Battersby, S. E., Finn, M. P., & Clarke, K. C. Map Projections and the Internet (L. Usery & M. Lapaine, Eds.). In Choosing a Map Projection (pp. 117-148). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

2015. Slocum, Terry and Kessler, Fritz. “Thematic Mapping,” in the History of Cartography Project: Cartography in the Twentieth Century, ed. Mark Monmonier. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Invited)

2014. Ricker, Britta, Schuurman, Nadine, and Kessler, Fritz. Implications of Smartphone usage on Privacy and Spatial Cognition: Academic Literature and Public Perceptions. GeoJournal. DOI 10.1007/s10708-014-9568-4.

2012. Battersby, Sarah and Kessler, Fritz. “Cues for Interpreting Distortion in Map Projections.” Journal of Geography, 111(3):93-101. doi: 10.1080/00221341.2011.609895 

2011. Kessler, Fritz. “Volunteered Geographic Information: A Bicycling Enthusiast Perspective.” Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 38(3): 258-268. doi: 10.1559/15230406382258 

2011. Kessler, Fritz and Slocum, Terry. “Analysis of Thematic Maps Published in Two Geographical Journals in the Twentieth Century.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101(2):292-317. doi: 10.1080/00045608.2010.544947 

2004. Slocum, T., R. Sluter, F. Kessler , and S. Yoder. “A Qualitative Evaluation of MapTime.” Cartographica 39(3):43 – 68. doi: 10.3138/92t3-t928-8105-88x7 

2002. Kessler, Fritz. “Focus Groups as a Means of Qualitatively Assessing the U-Boat Narrative.” Cartographica 37(4):33 – 60. doi: 10.3138/c631-1lm4-14j3-1674 

2001. Slocum, T., S. Yoder , F. Kessler, and R. Sluter. “MapTime: Software for Visualizing Spatiotemporal Data Associated with Point Locations.” Cartographica. 37(1):15 – 31. doi: 10.3138/t91x-1n21-5336-2r73

2000. Kessler, Fritz. “A Visual Basic Algorithm for the Winkel Tripel Projection.” Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 27(2):177 – 183. doi: 10.1559/152304000783547939 


  • GEOG 361: Maps and Map Construction (a resident course taught through the Geography Department)
  • GEOG 464: Advanced Spatial Analysis (a resident course taught through the Geography Department)
  • GEOG 486: Cartography and GeoVisualization (an online course)
  • GEOG 583: Geospatial Analysis and System Design (an online course)
  • GEOG 586: Geographic Information Analysis (an online course)
  • GEOG 597G: Challenges in Geospatial Analytics
  • GEOG 861: Map Projections for GIS Professionals