UCR Professor Emeritus of Resource Economics in the Department of Environmental Science
(1950 - 2019)
Keith passed away on November 27th, 2019, surrounded by his family and friends, in Riverside, California. Born in Wichita, Kansas, on July 28th, 1950, Keith was the first son of William H. and Jane L. Knapp. After moving around the Midwest with his family early in his life, he graduated from Davenport Central High School in 1968. After high school, he went to Iowa State University where he earned a B.S. degree in Economics in 1972. He served in the U.S. Army for two years, being stationed in West Germany for part of his duty. Following an honorable discharge in 1974, he entered a Ph.D. program offered by the College of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, where he received the Johns Hopkins Fellowship from 1975 to 1980 and specialized in resource and environmental economics. During this time in graduate school, Keith interned at the Water Resources Council and did part-time consulting for the World Bank, both in Washington D.C.
After earning his Ph.D. in 1980, Keith accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, where he spent the entirety of his career conducting research on irrigation management, salinity and drainage problems in the San Joaquin Valley, renewable resource management with an emphasis on groundwater, agricultural markets (grain reserves and perennial crops), and the implications of exhaustible resources for economic growth. Keith became a tenured Associate Professor in 1986, a Full Professor in 1992, and retired as a Professor Emeritus in 2019.
Over the 39 years of his distinguished career, Keith published over 85 scholarly articles. In 2002, he and co-authors received the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics Published Research Award from the Western Agricultural Economics Association for an article titled, “The Microeconomics of Irrigation with Saline Water”, while in 2006 he was awarded the Quality of Research Discovery Award from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association for an article he co-authored titled, “Estimating Intertemporal Preferences for Natural Resource Allocation," published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Keith was an excellent teacher, mentor, friend, and colleague. His friends and colleagues knew him as a very caring person who always pursued the truth and looked for practical and logical solutions to tough problems; someone who had a unique ability to explain complex problems in a simple and understandable way; and as a dedicated researcher with original and independent thoughts but one who would listen carefully to others views. Keith was also beloved by his students for what they would describe as his “lovably gruff commitment to the environment, academic excellence, and UC Riverside”; his continual and unwavering belief in their abilities gave them the confidence to more fully reach their potential.
Outside of his professional life, Keith’s passions included skiing, windsurfing, and star-gazing/astronomy. Keith is survived by his brothers Kirk O. Knapp and Kevin B. Knapp, and his sister Julie E. Steelman. His funeral service is scheduled for Sunday, December 8th, 2019, at noon (CST) in Burlington, Kansas. A memorial will be held in Riverside, California in January, 2020.