Miami graduate honored with Service to America Medal

Kevin Geiss (Miami MS '93, Ph.D. '01), the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy, has received a Service to America Medal (Sammie) from the Partnership for Public Service. He is one of nine civil servants to be honored with the medal, presented at a gala in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3.

kevin geiss

Kevin Geiss (Miami MS '93, PhD '01), deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy, was honored with the Service to America 2013 Management Excellence Medal (photo by Sam Kittner,

Geiss is the 2013 Management Excellence Medal recipient. This medal recognizes a federal employee for demonstrating superior leadership and management excellence through a significant contribution to the nation that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.

He was recognized for championing the safe use of alternative fuels to ensure energy independence for combat and support missions around the globe and reduced U.S. Air Force fuel and energy consumption, saving more than $1 billion in 2012 alone.

Geiss received his master's degree in chemistry in 1993 with adviser Chris Makaroff, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and associate dean of the College of Arts and Science. He received his doctorate in zoology in 2001 with adviser James Oris, professor of zoology and associate provost and dean of the Graduate School.

The Air Force is the largest single consumer of energy in the federal government, spending more than $9 billion on fuel and electricity in fiscal 2012. The energy bill constituted more than 8 percent of the Air Force budget last year, according to Partnership for Public Service.

Under Geiss’ leadership, the Air Force has been recognized as the Pentagon’s top green energy user, purchasing 5.5 percent of its total energy usage from renewable sources.

“No single individual has had more influence and impact in improving the department’s energy posture than Kevin Geiss,” said Kathleen Ferguson, the Air Force’s acting assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics. “He has helped make the Air Force more energy secure and energy independent and better able to deal with the constantly rising price of fuel.”

Geiss enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1986 while in high school. He later spent nine years as a defense contractor supporting Air Force research programs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Starting in 2002, he worked in the Human Effectiveness Directorate of Wright-Patterson's research laboratory.

He was detailed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and in 2008 joined the Department of the Army as program director for energy security.

In 2010 Geiss became deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy in the office of the assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics.

Written by Susan Meikle, university news and communications,, with contributions by Partnership for Public Service