Robert Crane

Robert Crane

Office Address: 
201 Walker
Associate Vice Provost for Global Programs
Department of Geography
Research Interests: 
  • climatology
  • regional scale climate change
  • African climates

My research interests are broadly within the field of climate and climate change. I am particularly interested in regional and local scale climate change and its implications for biophysical and human systems. Much of my work involves downscaling global climate model data for regional applications, and much of this has been undertaken with Bruce Hewitson at the Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Current and Recent Research Projects

July 2009 – June 2013: Co-Principal Investigator (with Michael Mann, Matthew Thomas, Andrew Reed and Ottar Bjornstad, the Pennsylvania State University), Quantifying the Influence of Environmental Temperature on Transmission of Vector-Borne Diseases (NSF, $1,884,991).

January 2009 – December 2011:  Co-Investigator (PI, Petra Tschakert, the Pennsylvania State University), Anticipatory Learning for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience  (NSF, $749,814).

January 2009 – December 2009:  Co-Investigator (PI James Shortle, The Pennsylvania State University), Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, $197,000).

July 2008 – June 2011:  Co-Investigator (PI Thorsten Wagener, The Pennsylvania State University), A Framework for Probabilistic Projections of Energy‐Relevant Streamflow Indicators under Climate Change Scenarios for the U.S. (U.S. Dept of Energy, $450,000).


Teaching Interests

I have taught a range of graduate and undergraduate courses in physical geography, climatology, earth system science, and remote sensing.  I have also taught first year seminars in ocean science and climate change in Africa.  I have co-taught four of the College’s two-semester undergraduate research seminars:  Global Change in Local Places; Coral Reef Environments; Environmental Justice in South Africa; and Global Environmental Change and Small Island Nations.  Together with Tanya Furman (Geosciences) and Carla Zembal-Saul (Science Education), I developed a new climate science course for education majors.

I regularly co-teach a coral reef systems course with Tim White that involves reef surveys in the Bahamas or Curacao.

Study Abroad

I administer a study abroad program in a nature reserve in South Africa. The Wild Coast nature reserves of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, and the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, provide regional foci for Penn State global engagement. Building long-term, multi-faceted partnerships with universities, private and public sector institutions, and local communities, the Parks and People program serves as a study abroad location as well as a potential locus for a broad range of Penn State activities in undergraduate education, faculty and graduate student research, and faculty, staff, and student professional development—all focused on projects that contribute to knowledge while improving the human condition in the communities served. The Parks and People partnerships integrate teaching, research and service across multiple disciplines related to the management of protected areas, community social and economic development, and public education in ecosystem services.  The core of Parks and People comprises two Penn State-administered study abroad programs – one in a South African nature reserve (led by the Department of Geography) and one in a national park in Tanzania (led by the Department of Landscape Architecture). These programs integrate experiential learning with on-going faculty research and service programs in the parks and the surrounding communities, and serve to promote global competency in U.S. and African students, strengthen international linkages, and facilitate partnerships with local communities.

Penn State Science Diving

I helped establish Penn State’s Science Diving Program in 2001 and served as the University Dive Safety Officer until 2006.  I currently serve as the Chair of the Dive Control Board.  The Penn State Science Diving Program is an administrative unit functioning under the Office of the Vice President for Research of the Pennsylvania State University. The program supervises all compressed gas diving for scientific purposes at the University and is administered by a Diving Control Board.  The Penn State Science Diving Program is an Organizational Member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS).