John A. Kelmelis

John A. Kelmelis
Professor of International Affairs
(814) 867-2769
University Park

Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University 
M.S., University of Missouri at Rolla 
B.A., Central Connecticut State College, magna cum laude

Professor John A. Kelmelis joined the School of International Affairs faculty in September 2008 as a scholar of national and international geography. He brings to Penn State more than thirty years of distinguished government service and leadership, during which time he has provided scientific advice on U.S. foreign policy, regional resource management, disaster response, and information infrastructure.

Professor Kelmelis formerly served as Senior Counselor for Earth Science in the Office of the Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State (STAS), where he provided policy advice to the White House, Department of State, and other high-level government entities on geology, hydrology, biology, geography, and related sciences and technologies in establishing and executing U.S. foreign policy. He concurrently served as senior science advisor for international policy in the Office of the Director, U.S. Geological Survey, where he served as principal staff advisor on incorporating science into international policy. He is currently a scientist emeritus at U.S. Geological Survey and consults with the Department of State and other organizations.

Professor Kelmelis has coordinated the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Global Change Research Program, directed the White House Scientific Assessment and Strategy Team, managed the U.S. Antarctic Mapping Program, and conducted research on many geographic scientific topics. From 1997 through 1999, he served as the chief scientist for geographic research at the USGS, where he provided research and guidance on infrastructure resources in the United States (such as drinking water, abandoned mine lands, urban hazards, ecosystem restoration in South Florida, Chesapeake Bay, and San Francisco) as well as international issues and research. From 1999 to 2004 he served as chief scientist for geography where he provided scientific leadership for the National Map, Land Remote Sensing, and Geographic Analysis and Monitoring programs.

Various government entities have recognized Professor Kelmelis' exceptional contributions with awards and special recognition. From the USGS, he earned a Performance Award in 2007, several annual Star Awards for outstanding performance, and a “Team on the Spot” Award for developing the Natural Hazard Information Center in 1998. Professor Kelmelis is also the recipient of a 1987 Cool Space Award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and a 1995 Meritorious Service Award from the Department of the Interior and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011. Professor Kelmelis serves on the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science.

A scientist emeritus at USGS, he has served as member of the American Geographical Society Board of Counselors, and past representative to the Pan American Institute for Geography and History, Professor Kelmelis provides scientific judgment to various organizations and publications. He reviews research proposals for the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, and American Geographical Society and has reviewed engineering proposals for Iraq reconstruction. Professor Kelmelis has provided scientific and technical leadership to various national and international committees, including the Planning Committee of the Global Dialogue on Emerging Science and Technology 2008 (in Africa), the AFRICOM Transition Team, and the U.S. Department of State Working Group on Populations at Risk.

"Artic warming ripples through Eurasia," in Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2011

“GDEST Africa, geospatial science and technology for sustainable development,” in Bridging the Horizons, New Frontiers in Geospatial Collaboration, Bethesda, MD: American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 2008

“Organizational impediments to estimating populations and acquiring, assessing, and using population data,” in Tools and methods for estimating populations at risk from natural disasters and complex humanitarian crises, Washington, D.C.: National Research Council, 2007.

“Geospatial information response to the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and tsunami of December 26, 2006,” with L. Schwartz, et al., Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 2006.

“The Geosciences and Future Foreign Policy,” Geotimes, Nov. 2005.

“Critical Infrastructure,” with S. Loomer, in The Geography of Terrorism, S. Cutter, D. Richardson, and T. Wilbanks, eds., New York: Routledge, 2003.

“Flood Damage, Risk and Levees in a Changing Environment,” Technology, 2000.

“The effect of large river floods on living resources: a case study from the Upper Mississippi River Basin, USA,” U.S.-China Workshop on Natural Disaster Mitigation and Reduction, Beijing, China, 1997 [invited paper].

Science for floodplain management into the 21st Century, ed., Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, five volumes published between 1994-2000.