Who We Are
Klaus Keller

Klaus Keller

Professor, Director of Penn State Center for Climate Risk Management, Penn State, Department of Geosciences

Climate Risk Management: From Decision-Making to Basic Research and Back


Climate change drives considerable risks. Designing strategies to manage these risks poses wicked problems that require mission-oriented basic research. One key challenge is that projections about the coupled natural-human systems are subject to deep and dynamic uncertainties. In addition, stakeholders and decision-makers often have conflicting objectives. This presentation discusses approaches to improve the design of risk management strategies using the example of flood-risk management. The presentation reviews approaches to (i) improve our quantitative understanding of the coupled natural-human systems dynamics, (ii) use this information to improve the design of risk management strategies, and (iii) use the insights from the decision-analyses to inform the design of mission-oriented basic research.


Klaus Keller is a professor of geosciences at Penn State where he also directs the Center for Climate Risk Management. Before joining Penn State, he worked as a research scientist and lecturer at Princeton University and as an engineer in Germany. Professor Keller graduated from Princeton with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering. He received Master’s degrees from M.I.T. and Princeton as well as Diplom-Ingenieur Degree from the Technische Universität Berlin. His research addresses two interrelated questions. First, how can we mechanistically understand past and potentially predict future changes in the Earth system? Second, how can we use this information to design sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible risk management strategies? He analyzes these questions by mission-oriented basic research covering a wide range of disciplines such as engineering, Earth sciences, economics, philosophy, decision science, and statistics. He contributed to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-edited an open source textbook, and published more than 130 peer-reviewed studies. His research, mentoring, and service have been recognized, for example, by the Penn State Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award as well as the Paul F. Roberson Award for Research Breakthrough of the Year from Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.