USC Dornsife Spatial Sciences Institute

Karen K. Kemp

Karen K. Kemp

Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences

  • 1992: Ph.D., Geography, University of California
  • 1982: M.A., Geography, Resources, University of Victoria
  • 1976: B.Sc., First Class Honours, Physical Geography, University of Calgary

Karen K. Kemp is Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences in the Spatial Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Her scientific research has focused on developing methods to improve the integration of environmental models with GIS from both the pedagogic and scientific perspectives and on formalizing the conceptual models of space acquired by scientists and humanities scholars across a wide range of disciplines. Her teaching expertise is in spatial analysis, spatial modeling, and thesis advisement in the online GIST Graduate Programs.

Since the late 1980s, Kemp has been a major figure in the evolution of GIS education in the United States and abroad. In 1990, she co-edited the original National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) Core Curriculum in GISystems and was part of the editorial and authorship team for the 2006 UCGIS Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge. She was a founding member of the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) Board of Directors and maintains her Geographic Information Science Professional (GISP) certification from that organization.

Kemp has been honored by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) as Educator of the Year in 2004 and as a UCGIS Fellow in 2011 “for her extraordinary record of accomplishment, service and contributions to the advancement of geographic information science and applications.” In 2018 she was elected Vice-President of the UCGIS, becoming President for 2019-2020.

Prior to joining the USC Spatial Sciences Institute, Kemp created and directed the University of Redlands M.S. in GIS program, and before that, was the executive director of the University of California Berkeley Geographic Information Science Center where she helped build the foundation for a campus-wide GIScience initiative. She also served as the associate director and assistant director for development of the NCGIA at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Selected Works

Kemp, K., Professional Certification. In J. Wilson (Ed.), The Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge. University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, 3rd Quarter 2016 edition, doi: 10.22224/gistbok/2016.3.1.

Ferguson, W.J., Kemp, K.K. & Kost, G., Using a Geographic Information System to Enhance Patient Access to Point-of-care Diagnostics in a Limited-Resource Setting. International Journal of Health Geographics, 15, 10, 2016, doi: 10.1186/s12942-016-0037-9.

Lam, N.S. & Kemp, K.K., Reflections on Geographic Information Science: special issue in honor of Michael Goodchild. International Journal of Geographic Information Science, 26, 2193-2196, 2012, doi: 10.1080/13658816.2012.721556.

Kemp, K.K., What does GIS offer to History? International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 3(1-2), 15-19, 2010.

DiBiase, D., DeMers, M., Johnson, A., Kemp, K., Luck,A.T., Plewe, B., & Wentz, E. Introducing the First Edition of Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 34(2), 113-120, 2007.

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