Stephen L. Johnson
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Stephen L. Johnson was raised in Nashville, Tennessee, the middle (with his twin brother) of four children, growing up in the pre- and post-Civil Rights Era. His father received his degree in electrical engineering and taught in that discipline at Vanderbilt University, though he also pursued a degree in divinity; his mother was a trained psychologist. Johnson partook in the normal activities of childhood, including Boy Scouts and music, but he had a very high affinity for and interest in writing. He matriculated at Vanderbilt University with the intention of becoming a writer.
After deciding against becoming a novelist, Johnson's interest in science was piqued while working in Lee Limbird's pharmacology lab, though he still had some trepidation about whether or not science actually suited him. Ultimately he decided to pursue science and was accepted into the genetics department at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he worked under Breck Byers on fusing Cdc4 and LAC-Z genes in yeast. While at Washington he was also fortunate to be mentored by Nobel laureate Leland H. Hartwell. Upon finishing his graduate studies Johnson decided to remain in the Northwest and began to work on zebrafish with James A. Weston and Charles A. Kimmel at the University of Oregon, Eugene. While there he worked on tissue regeneration mutants, pigment patterns, isometric growth, and genetic mapping, and he developed inbred strains and centromere markers for mapping the zebrafish genome. Johnson then accepted a position at Washington University School of Medicine to continue his work.
Near the end of the interview Johnson uses the topics already discussed in his oral history as a way to reflect upon his scientific development and the ways in which he mentors students and how he thinks about and practices science. The interview concludes with Johnson's thoughts on the role of technological innovation on his work; the advantages and disadvantages of competition in science; the direction of the national science agenda; the National Institutes of Health; gender issues; and the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences funding on his work.
|1983||University of Pennsylvania||BA||Chemistry and Molecular Biology|
|1991||University of Washington||PhD||Genetics|
University of Oregon
Washington University School of Medicine
National Merit Scholarship
Eastman Kodak Chemistry Scholarship
|1985 to 1986||
Graduate School Recruitment Fellowship, University of Washington
|1991 to 1992||
Leslie V. Gates Young Investigator Award, National Neurofibromatosis Foundation
|1992 to 1994||
NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
|1997 to 2001||
Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences
Table of Contents
Family background. Parental expectations. Siblings. Childhood interests and experiences. Interest in reading. Growing up in the South. Integration. Religion. Early schooling in Nashville, Tennessee. Favorite academic subjects. Extracurricular activities in the Boy Scouts and in music. Career expectations after high school to become a writer.
Vanderbilt University. Decides against becoming a novelist. Becomes interested in science while working in a pharmacology lab. Ideas on how science should be taught. Extracurricular activity in theater. Social life in college. Attends graduate school in the genetics department at the University of Washington in Seattle. Works on fusing Cdc4 and LAC-Z genes in yeast for his Ph.D. projectunder Breck Byers. Nobel laureate Leland H. Hartwell. Cell growth control in a vertebrate animal.
Postdoctoral work on zebrafish in James A. Weston's laboratory at University of Oregon in Eugene. Charles A. Kimmel laboratory. Weston's and Kimmel'smentoring styles. Tissue regeneration mutants, pigment patterns, isometric growth, and genetic mapping. Develops inbred strains and centromere markers for mapping the zebrafish genome. Accepts a position at Washington University School of Medicine. Current research on zebrafish genomics and stem cells. Future research plans. Long and short-term applications of his research.
Siblings. Learns how to ask scientific questions while working in Lee E. Limbird's pharmacology laboratory. More on ideas on how student's should be taught science in the United States. Learns the process of writing journal articles in James Weston's laboratory. Duties as a principal investigator. Travel commitments. Administrative duties. Tenure process at Washington University School of Medicine. Grant writing process. Funding history. Laboratory management style. Setting up his lab. Leisure activities. Patents. Ideas on theethics of privatization of scientific research. Views on the history of science and the importance of knowing how scientists develop their ideas. Technological innovation. Future biological research Competition and collaborations. National science agenda. National Institutes of Health. Views on oversight of stem cell research. Scientists in public policy. Gender. The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.