Photo of Fred Fonseca


Associate Professor
E388 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 867-4025
Additional Title(s)
Affiliate Assistant Professor of Geography, The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Professor-in-Charge of Social and Organizational Informatics
Ph.D., Spatial Information Science and Engineering University of Maine, 2001
M.S., Public Administration and Computer Science Government School of the Joao Pinheiro Foundation, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1997
B.S., Mechanical Engineering Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil 1978

Fred Fonseca received his Ph.D. in Spatial Information Science and Engineering from the University of Maine in 2001. He has joined Penn State in 2001 as an Assistant Professor. His work on three areas of research, Geographic Information Science, Information Science, and Information Systems, led to many journal papers, research grants from NSF and other agencies, and successful Master’s and Ph.D. students . He received the 2006 Researcher Award from the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) for his foundational work on ontologies in GIS. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007. In his sabbatical leave (2008-2009) from Penn State he developed the project Global Forest Information Systems with Gilberto Camara at INPE and Clodoveu Davis at UFMG. From January 2010 to June 2012 he was the Associate Dean for Education, and later Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. He is currently the co-director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning.

Research Interests

What drives my research is a desire to understand and facilitate communication among people who have different perspectives on a subject. Specifically, I apply philosophical hermeneutics to problems of information use and integration, taking into account diverse cultures and skill levels. I use ontologies from the software engineering and the philosophical perspectives to create information-technology solutions to these problems. The solutions I create using hermeneutics can be seen as vehicles within which differences and similarities among various perspectives are expressed and discussed. My main focus is on information systems that deal with scientific data, in particular, data related to geographic features and the environment with a focus on sustainability. My research contributions enhance the way researchers share information even when they have different conceptualizations of the phenomena under investigation.