Photo: Dale Robbins

Zack Kopplin

Education Activist

Zack Kopplin is a sophomore majoring in history at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Since 2010, when he was a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, Kopplin has led an effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, which, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, introduces “religious, unscientific views into [public school] science classrooms.” He testified in front of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as part of a successful effort to maintain science-based textbooks in Louisiana public schools.

More recently, Kopplin has begun documenting private schools that teach creationism or use creationist curricula, while receiving public funds through voucher programs. So far, Kopplin has identified over 300 schools in nine states, including the District of Columbia.

In recognition of his education advocacy work in 2012, Kopplin received the Friends of Darwin award from the National Center for Science Education, the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in Education, and the Troublemaker of the Year Award, which celebrates teenagers whose advocacy, “delivers tangible positive impact on their local community, home town, country, or perhaps the entire planet.”

Kopplin recently wrote an open letter to President Obama, in The Huffington Post, calling for  a “Second Giant Leap for Mankind,” that fights science-denying legislation and increases funding for scientific research over the next 10 years. Kopplin was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His father, Andy Kopplin, serves as First Deputy Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer to New Orleans mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu. Zack’s mother, Andrea Neighbors, is a novelist and freelance writer.