Kurt Paterson is a first-generation college student who was lucky to discover the joys of higher education. Earning B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from The University of Iowa, Kurt found rewarding ways to contribute at the intersection of engineering, the environment, and health through the guidance of nurturing graduate school mentors. Kurt has used that same "relationships first" approach to become an award-winning educator, researcher, volunteer and mentor. Kurt's work aims to improve the well-being of people, communities, and organizations. His early career research focused on the sources, transport, and mitigation of air pollution across scales, indoor through global. This work was dependent on successful partnerships with communities around the world and demonstrated the importance of collaborations between academia and the public. After seven years as a university administrator, Kurt has added projects related to grand challenges facing higher education, and currently leads several multi-institution research teams investigating mindsets, mentoring, and professional development of students as well as faculty. His research has been supported by government, industry, and foundation sponsors, and countless generous community members. Kurt's teaching began with air quality and environmental engineering, but, due to their importance driving critical change in the world, shifted to sustainable design, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He has co-authored two textbooks in these topics. Recently he has added courses on data analysis, decision-making, and engineering management as practical skill sets for helping students move from idea to impact. He currently is producing a podcast series to bring industry voices into engineering education. Kurt has a long service record, notably through many roles with the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and Engineers Without Borders (EWB). On campus, Kurt enjoys helping students reach better outcomes by serving as faculty advisor to NAE's Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP), and Stanford's University Innovation Fellows (UIF), among others. He is helping the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) help universities create faculty development strategies and is leading a year-long program for faculty to better use story in their work. Kurt has served on the faculty at Michigan Tech and as a visiting scholar at universities (Smith College, University of Canterbury, and University of Colorado-Boulder), government (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) and industry (Boeing). He is a Professor of Engineering at James Madison University, where he served as Head of Engineering from 2013-2020. He is an eager artist, enjoying photography, digital art, and the mandolin. He married well and is fortunate to have two daughters who love learning.Department of State Profile
Under Secretary for Management
Office of Management Strategy and Solutions
Kurt Paterson serves as Senior Sustainability Advisor in the Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) within the Office of Management Strategy and Solutions (M/SS). The mission of GDI is to improve the environmental sustainability of the Department's global operations. Kurt is designing frameworks for climate change initiatives that benefit the whole department. In this capacity, he is developing two foundational department-wide platforms for long-term, climate-based leadership: (1) the first project is an effort to routinely estimate the greenhouse gas emissions from the State Department’s overseas operations, (2) the second project aims to help Department staff elevate their understanding of climate science and solutions landscape. He is also supporting efforts to measure air quality globally, and assisting solutions to minimize air pollution health impacts. Kurt is partnering with a number of offices within State and across the U.S. government on climate, sustainability, and decision-making.