Office: MacDermid Hall 208
Dr. Johnson was an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Post University from August, 2006 through September 2010. In October, 2010, she was promoted to Academic Program Manager for Environmental Science, and is now responsible for course material and curricular development in Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies and Physics. She has developed many of the new course offerings in Environmental Science, including: Soils in Our Environment, Ecological Field Methods, Writing in the Sciences and Exploring Environmental Issues. She also redesigned Exploring Environmental Issues for deployment in an online format. In addition to the courses listed above, Dr. Johnson teaches: Environmental Science A Global Concern, Ecology, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Ethics, and Sustainable Development. Before coming to Post, Dr. Johnson worked as a Teaching Assistant and then became an Instructor within the Environmental Science Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Post University Environmental Science Academic
Program Manager Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., was
the keynote speaker at the recent Beacon Falls
Community Forum. This 2-day educational event,
hosted by the Beacon Falls Conservation
Commission, featured an array of environmental
presentations and science activities. To watch a
video about the event, click here.
Before joining the faculty at Post University, Dr. Johnson worked as a Wetland Delineator for a private consulting firm in Massachusetts and as a Soil Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Association. This background in field methods has permitted her to design innovative, exciting field activities, and to bring a real world policy and consulting background into the classroom.
Currently, Dr. Johnson is an assistant editor for Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, as well as a consultant for Wiley and Sons Publishing, designing PowerPoint lectures and editing textbooks.
Dr. Johnson’s teaching philosophy is summed up well by a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “If you tell me, I will forget. If you show me, I will remember. If you involve me, I will understand.” The goal of Dr. Johnson’s multi-media, hands-on teaching style is to involve students in the material they are learning, in the hopes that they will not only remember the material, but gain and lifelong understanding and appreciation of it. Dr. Johnson regards teaching as an opportunity to inspire and motivate students to push themselves beyond what they believe to be their academic and/or personal capabilities.
Dr. Johnson grew up in upstate New York with her parents and two brothers. One of her family’s favorite vacation spots was a small island on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. She learned to appreciate the intricacies of ecology and the environment while spending two weeks each summer on this lake. At Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, Dr. Johnson chose to study Earth and Environmental Sciences. After participating in internships associated with wetlands, she found her calling. She pursued her MS at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Plant and Soil Sciences where she studied the correlation between hydrology, vegetation and soils along a wet meadow hydrosequence. For her Ph.D. work, she chose to focus her research efforts on soil chemistry by assessing how phenanthrene (a relatively simple organic chemical used in herbicides and pesticides) attached to organic material in the soil.
Outside of academia, Dr. Johnson enjoys cycling with her husband and two children on the local rail trails, training for running events, hiking in the woods, throwing the ball for her yellow lab in the backyard, and smelling the scent of fresh earth when digging the soil.
Dr. Johnson’s dissertation research (completed in 2006) focused on the chemical and structural characterization of plant cuticular materials, and how through humification, their structures degrade to represent the aliphatic components in soil organic material. A secondary objective to her work involved monitoring the phenanthrene sorption behavior of both fresh and decomposed cuticular materials and their correlation to the sorption behaviors exhibited by humic acids and humin in soil organic materials. This project provided Dr. Johnson with an excellent insight into environmental organic chemistry, and allowed her to establish herself in the academic community, through both journal publications and professional conference presentations.
Currently, Dr. Johnson is participating in a three-year research project on the application of the current hydric soil indicators to three New England vernal pools (two in Massachusetts, and one in Connecticut) in conjunction with colleagues at UMass Amherst. The results have been presented at National Conferences. Each summer, Post University students have been involved in the data collection and assessment for internship credit.