Charles ReVelle, a Johns Hopkins
professor who was world renowned
for his work on
reservoir design and who was
credited with creating the field
of location analysis, died Aug. 10 at his
home in Baltimore. He was 67. The cause of
death was lymphoma.
ReVelle was a chemical engineer who
evolved into an applied mathematician specializing
in environmental systems analysis.
He earned his doctorate in sanitary engineering
from Cornell University and served
on the Cornell faculty from 1967 to 1970.
He joined the Department of Geography
and Environmental Engineering at Johns
Hopkins in 1971. He quickly gained a
reputation for his work in a broad range of
Location analysis, the science ReVelle
pioneered, involves applying mathematical
modeling to determine the optimal placement
of facilities such as fire stations, hospitals
and power plants. ReVelle’s skills
also were used in areas as diverse as nuclear
disarmament, reservoir operation and the
design of nature reserves.
Promoted to a full professor in 1975, he
was a prolific researcher, publishing more
than 150 journal papers as well as authoring
three books on mathematical modeling.
With his wife, Penelope, he wrote and published
five environmental science textbooks
for undergraduates in the 1990s.
Nick Jones, dean of the Whiting School
of Engineering, said, “Chuck was absolutely
devoted to the research and careers of his
students, dozens of whom now hold faculty
positions around the world. He was a gifted
teacher, with an accessible and thorough
style that extended beyond the classroom.
A stream of visitors could always be found
coming and going from his office.”
Among the friends and colleagues mourning
the loss of ReVelle was Jared L. Cohon,
president of Carnegie Mellon University.
Before assuming his present post, Cohon
spent 19 years as a faculty member and
administrator at Johns Hopkins. He collaborated
with ReVelle on research projects and
“Chuck ReVelle was a great teacher,
scholar and innovator,” Cohon said. “Chuck
also had the discipline of mind and commitment
to wrestle over long periods with the
most challenging problems in environmental
systems analysis and location theory, two
fields in which he produced several seminal
works and in which he is known as a pioneer
and even founder.
“He was, in addition, an incredibly gentle,
thoughtful and generous person who earned
the devotion of his colleagues and students.
I was one of those people who had the good
fortune of working closely with Chuck for
many years. He meant a great deal to me as a
colleague, mentor and friend. Like his many
very successful students, I was educated by
Chuck directly and by just being around him
for almost two decades. We have lost a great
ReVelle’s many awards included a Lifetime
Achievement Award in Locational
Analysis in 1996 from the Section on Location
Analysis of the Institute for Operations
Research and Management Science and the
Agamemnon Award from the Constantine
Porphyrogenitus Association of Greece in
1995 for his contributions to Environmental
Management and Public Decisions Making.
In 2001 he was named the Mary Shephard
B. Upson Visiting Professor in Civil and
Environmental Engineering and Visiting
Professor of City Planning and Regional Science
at Cornell University’s School of Civil
and Environmental Engineering. Cornell
subsequently appointed him adjunct professor
of civil and environmental engineering,
a position he held in addition to his Johns
His outside interests included building
furniture, traveling and hiking. He also was
known for his jokes and for puns that friends
and colleagues affectionately described as
He is survived by his wife, Penelope;
daughters Cynthia ReVelle of Boston and
Elizabeth ReVelle of New Castle, Australia;
and a granddaughter.
The family has requested that donations
made in his honor be directed to the Charles
S. ReVelle Scholarship Fund at Johns Hopkins,
care of the Whiting School Development
and Alumni Relations Office, 144
New Engineering Building.
A memorial service for ReVelle will be
held Sunday, Sept. 11, in 110 Hodson Hall
on the Homewood campus. A reception will
be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m., followed by a
service from 5 to 6 p.m.