Karen K. Kemp has been a major figure in the evolution of GIS education in the US and abroad. She also has contributed in the areas of research and administration. Karen has been involved in the UCGIS since before its inception — she helped organize and then chaired the founding meeting in Boulder in 1995. She has served on the UCGIS Board of Directors, served as Program Co-chair for the UCGIS 1997 Annual Assembly and Summer Retreat and, with Richard Wright, was editor of the UCGIS Education Priorities in 1997.
Her efforts to improve GIS education began with her work as co-editor, with Michael Goodchild, of the 1990 NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS. She was also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) and a member of the Editorial Team for the UCGIS GI Science and Technology Body of Knowledge. In recognition for these and other contributions, Karen was named the 2004 Educator of the Year by the UCGIS.
Dr. Kemp holds geography degrees from the University of Calgary, Alberta (BSc 1976), the University of Victoria, British Columbia (MA 1982) and the University of California Santa Barbara (PhD 1992). After teaching at a college in British Columbia, Karen moved to California in 1988 to begin her PhD and joined the NCGIA in Santa Barbara working as Coordinator of Education Programs. After completing her PhD, she worked at the Technical University of Vienna, Austria, and with Longman GeoInformation in Cambridge, England on international GIS education projects. She returned to the NCGIA in 1994 to work as Assistant Director and later Associate Director.
In January 1999 she moved to the University of California Berkeley to become Executive Director of the Geographic Information Science Center where she helped build the foundation for an innovative campus-wide GIScience initiative. In September 2000, Karen became the founding Director of the International Masters Program in GIS at the University of Redlands.
In 2005, Dr. Kemp stepped down as Director to retreat to the Big Island of Hawai’i to become an Independent Scholar. She spent the next few years finishing a long-delayed book project, continuing work with the University of Redlands on various GIS initiatives and as Senior Consultant with the Redlands Institute, and working on several grants and contracts focused on achieving a vision of a community-oriented Island-based GIS infrastructure which brings together Hawaiian and Western sciences, connecting them through place on the landscape.
In September 2010 Dr. Kemp accepted a full-time academic appointment with University of Southern California. She continues to live in Hawai’i while teaching in USC’s on-line MS GIS Program. Karen also holds an adjunct teaching position at the University of Hong Kong in the Electronic Commerce/Internet Computing MSc program.
For her contributions to GIS and to the UCGIS, Karen Kemp is a very deserving addition to the roster of UCGIS Fellows.