U welcomes new chair, anthropology professor

N-Anthro ChairThe department of anthropology has tapped Leslie Knapp to chair the department.
Knapp said that she hopes to bring some of her research to the U and have a positive influence on students in her department. Before coming to the U, Knapp taught at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. She said that she expects she will have to adjust her teaching methods, because higher education is approached differently in the U.K.
“This is an excellent department of anthropology, and it consists of all of the aspects of anthropology,” Knapp said. “The people here are extraordinary researchers, scientists and teachers, so I was really excited to have the possibility of joining the people that teach here in anthropology as another faculty member.”
Knapp said she’s honored to be working alongside faculty members at the U as well as establishing contacts for current and future studies.
“I’m really excited about being able to collaborate with the faculty in this department. I’m really excited about establishing collaboration with other members of the faculty in other departments of the university,” Knapp said. “I’m also really excited about finding graduate students and even undergraduates to do projects with me in the laboratory.”
Kristen Hawks, professor of anthropology, sung Knapp’s praises.
“I’m so glad she is here,” Hawks said. “We are lucky to have drawn her. The semester has begun well, and we are all looking forward to working with her.”
Students with whom Knapp has worked in the past also praise her teaching. Molly Fox, one of Knapp’s former doctorate students, is now a professor at the University of California Irvine. She loved working with Knapp because of her enthusiasm in approaching new challenges.
“During my Ph.D., Leslie was always enthusiastic about my ideas, and she encouraged me to build a unique research program tailored to my own interests,” Fox said. “Leslie’s enthusiasm for learning about new topics is insatiable. All avenues of research genuinely interest her, and I’ve never known her to turn down a challenge. She has the widest range of interests of any professor I know. Every time a new student proposes to research a topic with which she isn’t yet familiar, she eagerly agrees, further expanding her own knowledge.”
Fox went on to add that working with Knapp was very inspiring, as her energy along with her work ethic generated a great study environment. She said she is also willing and able to answer the questions students ask her.
“Working with Leslie is very enjoyable because she is always energetic and in high spirits, no matter the challenge. As a student, it was fantastic having a supervisor who is excited by new questions and inspired by new ideas. She is always optimistic and gives her students the confidence to pursue any project that interests them,” Fox said.
Knapp enjoys supervising students in the laboratory that never thought they would get a chance to do research and hopes that her students at the U will look up to her as a mentor.
She also wants to dig deeper into gene research to find out more about primate behavior.
“I am a geneticist who studies humans and non-human primates. What I’m interested in trying to study are the genes involved in the immune system that are called major histocompatibility complex genes. These genes help us to respond to pathogens in the environment,” Knapp said.
Knapp plans to continue research she began at Cambridge as soon as the molecular genetics laboratory is refurbished.