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Peter Stempel

Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Penn State Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Peter Stempel

Peter Stempel is an associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and is affiliated with the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Water Faculty Initiative, and Ecology plus Design: E+D. His research is focused on realizing the transformative potential of realistic visualization for hazard and risk communication and public engagement. His work links physical models such as hydrodynamic and wind models to qualitative data gathered from stakeholders and visualizations. He is part of interdisciplinary teams working on projects for the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence for Coastal Resilience. This applied work is complimented by social science research designed to improve visualization practices and inform the development of new paradigms for the use of realistic visualizations.

Stempel’s multi-domain expertise builds on a diverse career as a sculptor, architect, activist, and non-profit leader conducting public engagement. He spent most of his career working in the rural southwest United States prior to pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island. He draws on these broad experiences to inform his teaching. He is developing inclusive curriculum in water-related resilience and training designers to collaborate more effectively with scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders to equitably address complex societal issues like climate adaptation. Stempel has over 25 years of design teaching experience and is committed to applying innovative asset-based pedagogies that recognize and build on the unique skills and abilities of every student.

  • Education
    • Ph.D., Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island, 2018
    • B.F.A., B.Arch., Rhode Island School of Design, 1993
  • Courses Taught
    • Defusing Doomsday
  • Honors + Awards
    • University of Rhode Island Graduate Research Scholarship Excellence Award, Humanities and Social Sciences, 2018
  • Publications + Presentations


    • McMordie H., Stempel, P. (2020) Returning the artist to the field: Utilizing printmaking’s multiplicity, mediation, and materiality for enhanced science communication. Interalia Magazine, 59.
    • Stempel, P. & Becker, A. 2019. Visualizations Out of Context: Addressing Pitfalls of Real-Time Realistic Hazard Visualizations. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 8, 318. doi: 10.3390/ijgi8080318
    • Ullman, D. S., Ginis, I., Huang, W., Nowakowski, C., Chen, X. & Stempel, P. (2019). Assessing the Multiple Impacts of Extreme Hurricanes in Southern New England, USA. Geosciences, 9, 265. doi: 10.3390/geosciences9060265
    • Stempel, P., Ginis, I., Ullman, D., Becker, A., & Witkop, R. (2018). Real-Time Chronolo gical Hazard Impact Modeling. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 6(4), 134. MDPI AG. doi: 10.3390/jmse6040134
    • Witkop, R., Becker, A., Stempel, P. & Ginis, I. (2019). Developing Consequence Thresholds for Storm Models Through Participatory Processes: Case Study of Westerly Rhode Island. Frontiers in Earth Science, 7. doi:10.3390/ijgi8080318
    • Spaulding, M., Grilli, A., Damon, C., Crean, T., Fugate, G., Oakley, B., & Stempel, P. (2016). STORMTOOLS: Coastal Environmental Risk Index (CERI). Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 4(3), 54. MDPI AG. doi: 10.3390/jmse4030054
    • Stempel, P. (2010). Russel Wrankle. Ceramics Art and Perception, (79) pp. 65-68.


    • Ginis, I., Stempel P., Babson, A. (2020) Advancing Modeling and Impact Analysis Tools for Assessing Nor’easter Vulnerability for New England Parks Amplified Under the Changing Climate. National Coastal and Estuarine Virtual Summit, September 29-October 1
    • Becker, A., Rubinoff, P., Stempel, P., Ginis, I., Adams, S., Hallisey, N., Kalaidjian, E., (2020) Hazard Consequence Threshold Models for Emergency Management and Response Decision Making. Natural Hazards Center Researchers Meeting, Boulder, CO, July 15-16.
    • Stempel, P., (2020). “Adaptation of low-lying neighborhoods in Portsmouth, RI. USA.” International Geodesign Collaboration (IGC), Redlands, CA. February 22–24, 2020
    • Stempel, P., (2019). “Rethinking model-driven realistic storm-surge graphics.” Rhode Island Coastal Ecology, Assessment, Innovation, and Modeling (R C-AIM) Research Symposium 2019, Kingston RI. April 10. (Invited Speaker)
    • Becker, A., Stempel, P., Menendez, J. (2019). “Visualizing Risk, Impacts of 100 Year Storm Events and Sea Level Rise in Coastal Rhode Island.” (poster) Infrastructure and Climate Network (ICNET), Durham, NH. April 4.
    • Stempel, P., Becker, A., (2018). “Effects of localization on perceptions of storm surge risk depicted in model driven semi-realistic visualizations.” International Conference on Sustainable Development, NY, NY. September 26-28.
    • Ginis, I., Ullman, D., Hara, T., Kincaid, C. Rosa, K., Chen, X., Thomas, B., Becker, A., Stempel, P., Witkop, R., Rubinoff, P., Huang, W., Orr, M., Thomas, R., Thompson, R., Belk, M., Morey, P., Conard, S., (2018). “Advancing Modeling Capabilities and Impact Analysis Tools to Improve Preparedness for Major Hurricane Hazard Events.” American Meteorological Society 98th Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, Jan. 11.
    • Witkop, R., Stempel, P., Becker, A., (2017). (poster) “Coupling local scale, high resolution, qualitative data to interface with numerical storm models,” American Geophysical Union Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA. Dec. 12.
    • Stempel, P., Becker, A. (2016).“Data Driven Visualization.” ECM14, Estuarine and Coastal Modeling Conference, Kingston, RI. June 14-15.
  • Built Works

    1999-2014 | Principal, Stempel Form PC Architects
    Founded in 1999, Stempel Form was a multidisciplinary planning and design firm, and the first firm in the State of Utah to adopt the 2030 challenge to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Stempel form completed a wide range of planning and design projects including commercial, hospitality, community, and residential projects, including a LEED Platinum certified project:

    2007-2014 | Executive Director, Form Tomorrow 501c3
    Form tomorrow was of as an antidote to polarizing fights over land use and focused on “nuts and bolts” assistance to small communities in Washington County Utah. Key to its success that prioritized broadly supported local solutions. 1/3rd of Form Tomorrow’s total funding came from individual and corporate support. Government funding of any kind accounted for less than 2% of total monies raised, the rest being made up by foundation support from organizations such as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Nature Conservancy. Form tomorrow completed a wide range of planning projects and studies and provided opportunities to work on real-world projects while living in the communities they served.

  • Service + Affiliations


    • Registered Architect, State of Utah


  • Expertise

    Coastal resilience, hazard and risk communication, visualization, visual rhetoric, science communication.