John Kessler (he/him)

john and jack kessler hikingPosition/what you do at U of R?

Professor and Department Chair in Earth & Environmental Sciences. My specialization is ocean chemistry and how it contributes to influencing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Where are you from?

I was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Maryland somewhere between the city and the sticks.

What got you interested in Earth and Environmental Sciences?

I've always been drawn to the STEM fields. My father was a physicist and I have fond memories of him bringing me into his lab at night to check on experiments. I decided to study mathematics and chemistry in college but it wasn't until after I graduated and I was working in a government laboratory that I discovered how mathematical and chemical investigations could be used to solve unknowns in our Earth systems. I was immediately hooked and pursued graduate studies the following year. The rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about U of R?

The UR is a research powerhouse while simultaneously having a relatively small student population. This gives students numerous opportunities to have meaningful research experiences. This is what I enjoy most: being able to conduct research shoulder-to-shoulder with top scientists, while also contributing to unique and world-class educational experiences.

Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?

Currently, I have no hidden talents. My life is an open book. But prior to grad school, I spent a bit too much time playing jazz saxophone. I was lucky enough to perform at the North Sea and Montreux Jazz Festivals with musicians that were way better than I was. But I have no delusions of grandeur, and truth be told, had I actually had a lick of talent, I'd likely still be doing it in some capacity today.


What is your favorite thing to do in Rochester, NY?

Tough question. There is a lot to like about this region so I don't have just one. But my top two are hiking and Eastman. There are many wonderful trails in the surrounding region which I enjoy exploring with my family. And being able to walk into Kilbourn Hall on almost any random weekday evening and hear world-class music for free is almost unimaginable.