James Madison University

Dr. Andrea Knopp Wins VCNP Education Award

By: Hannah Austin
Posted: March 18, 2013

PHOTO: Andrea Knopp

On March 8, 2013, Dr. Andrea Knopp received the Education Award from the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners at their annual conference held in Williamsburg. Knopp has been teaching in the Nursing Department at James Madison University since 2010, and in that short time, has gained the respect of the faculty and students who nominated her for the award. Vast experience with field research and traveling abroad imprinted a global view of healthcare on Knopp, which she is now able to share with her students.

In 2008, Knopp was the principal investigator for a research study on the Zabbaleen community in Cairo, Egypt. The Egyptian-Arabic term “Zabbaleen” is translated as “garbage pickers,” and refers to a population of nearly 60,000 teenagers and adults who have been Cairo’s informal trash collectors for nearly a century. With the help of pigs who eat organic materials, the people pick through garbage daily in order to find resources they can sell to factories or independent merchants, as well as materials they can use in the production of hand-made crafts. The unsanitary conditions leads to a plethora of health problems, including high rates of infectious disease, infant mortality, and weakened immune systems in general; however, division of labor leaves women even more susceptible to diseases, as they spend the most time actually handling trash. In fact, since men collect wastes and deposit them at home for women and children to sort, a female’s close contact with trash often begins in early girlhood and lasts throughout the lifespan.

“My goal is for women to be able to tell their stories,” said Knopp. “I am just their avenue to a voice.”

Knopp is currently working on a grant through the Office of International Programs that, if received, would allow her and a group of students to travel to Kenya to research and provide aid in women’s health and wellness. Knopp also plans to continue ongoing research on trash-pickers located in Bluefields, Nicaragua, with the end objective of completing a comparative study on the two regions. Although Knopp traveled to Nicaragua in 2005, she has not returned since the government implemented new recycling services, which left the women and children who pick trash with a severe lack of profitable materials. 

As Knopp’s professional experiences expand, so will opportunities for students under her tutelage. James Madison University, the Nursing Department in particular, congratulates Knopp on her accomplishments and wishes her all the best in upcoming research endeavors.

To find out more about the trash-pickers of Cairo, check out the 2009 Oscar-nominated documentary, Garbage Dreams.