Geography student named EMS student marshal

Monday, July 23, 2012 - 8:45am

David Knoppers of State College, Pa., has been selected as the student marshal for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences during the Penn State University Park summer commencement on Saturday, August 11, 2012. Knoppers’s faculty escort will be his adviser Karl Zimmerer, professor and head of the Department of Geography.


Knoppers says, “It’s wonderful!” to be selected as a student marshal.  “The best part about the honor is knowing that because I received it, there are professors in the geography department that like my work nearly as much as I like theirs. It’s been a great and highly educational four years in the major.”


Knoppers graduates with a 3.92 grade point average and a bachelor of science degree in human geography, focusing on the discipline of political ecology. In addition, he is enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College.

Knoppers received a Geography Student Scholarship in 2009 and the Balmat Family Scholarship in 2010.


Knoppers activities have included jazz and hip-hop dance at Central Pennsylvania Dance Workshop; Penn State Math Club; and Model African Union at Howard University. In spring 2011 he traveled to South Africa with the Parks and People Program.


“Parks and People and dance are the two most important activities I undertook in college,” Knoppers says. “Also, I went on a kayaking trip to South Carolina through Dr. Bob Burkholder’s Adventure Literature Program with the Department of English. Any current undergraduate should take one of his classes; they are excellent scholastic and extracurricular experiences.”


Knoppers has also kept busy with internships and research. During the fall 2009, Knoppers worked for the Sierra Club as a writing intern. In summer 2011, he worked as a communications intern for the Smarter Living Team at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Manhattan. In spring 2012, he worked as a grants team intern for the New Leaf Initiative.


“As far as research in the department goes,” he says,  “I've been all around the shop: a project on the historical economic and environmental history of Chicago under Dr. Holdsworth; climate change under Dr. Tschakert; agriculture, the environment, and food labeling under Dr. Zimmerer; and a few other things.”


“David is an exceptional student,” Zimmerer notes. “He’s a quick study, well-trained and creative, and highly adept at geographic analysis. David’s research for his Schreyer honors thesis on the governance of sustainable food labeling promises to offer original and important insights from the perspective of nature-society geography.”


After graduation, Knoppers will work as an intern in the Educational Outreach division of National Geographic in Washington, DC.


During commencement, Knoppers will be accompanied by Zimmerer and by his parents: Liberal Arts Research Professor of English Laura Knoppers and Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Religious Studies, and Jewish Studies Gary Knoppers.