Meet a Colleague: Elizabeth Knapp Elizabeth Knapp serves as director of the Johnson Program and professor of earth and environmental geoscience.
Q. How long have you worked at W&L?
I started in the fall of 1997, so I am currently enjoying my 27th academic year.
Q. What is your favorite course to teach, and why?
My spring term Geology of Hawaii class. Of course, it is the opportunity to share the amazing active volcanic processes and unique biogeography of the islands; but as importantly, exploring with students the rich cultural heritage and deep connection of Hawaiian communities to the land.
Q. Where is your favorite location on the W&L campus?
The back campus trails – I try and come to work early each morning to get in a stroll out there or along Woods Creek.
Q. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
Hiking and exploring new, lesser traveled trails. Having lived in the area for such a long time, it is a feat to find “new to us” places but it is an ongoing goal. Visiting old favorites is also a great pleasure.
Q. Where did you grow up?
LexVegas! I grew up just a couple blocks away from campus (my dad was at VMI and my mom worked for a time at W&L – actually just down the hall from where my office is now). I am a true townie!
Q. Who inspired you to teach? What about them inspired you?
The original “Fab 4” of the W&L Geo department (Sam Kozak, Odell McGuire, Ed Spencer and Fred Schwab) – they shared their love of geoscience and their dedication to mentoring undergrads. It was infectious, though they each had their own unique style.
Q. What book are you reading now?
I usually have what I call the “current stack.” I just finished “Midnight Library” (Matt Haig) and I’m currently working through “Trust” (Hernan Diaz). On deck are “Babel” (R.F. Kang) and “Black Cake” (Charmaine Wilkerson). I am also reading essays intermittently in “All about Love” (Bell Hooks) and “A Philosophy of Walking” (Frederic Gros).
Q. What music are you listening to these days?
At home, there is often reggae playing (my husband’s Spotify list highlights emerging artists in the genre) – but have a wide range of musical tastes. I particularly love hearing and supporting live music at local venues (including the wonderful concert season at the Lime Kiln Theater).
Q. If you could have coffee with one person, who would it be and why?
My Mom (if I could also bring along our kids, Jenner and Charlie). She died before they were born and I would love nothing more than for her to get to know them and vice versa.
Q. If you could live anywhere, where would you build your dream home?
Deep in the woods near a mountain stream in the Appalachians.
Q. If they made a movie about your life, who would play you?
Tough one – maybe Reese Witherspoon – with more of a Cheryl Strayed’s character in “Wild” than an Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” vibe.
Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I am an introvert. While my upbringing and career helped me to master what I would call being a “trained extrovert,” it is definitely not my natural state.
Q. What is your secret talent?
My family tells me I read really fast – I love (on a rainy day or quiet evening) to hunker down and read a book cover to cover. Also, my husband tells me that I am often “in his head” and able to say the exact random thing that is on his mind – but I think that is more 27 years of marriage rather than a secret talent.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share?
I am beyond grateful to have been a part of the W&L community over the years. I have often remarked that I get to have the best job in the world!