Kristina M. Johnson, former dean of Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, took office as Johns Hopkins provost on Sept. 1, becoming the first woman to hold the university's No. 2 post.
An electrical engineer, entrepreneur, and award-winning advocate for women in science and engineering, the 50-year-old Johnson "has a keen appreciation for the extraordinarily important role of the research university in our society," said President William R. Brody, in naming her the university's 12th provost.
During her eight-year tenure as dean at Duke, the Pratt School underwent an unprecedented period of growth, doubling the size of its graduate programs, adding 60 new faculty members, tripling annual research expenditures to $60 million, and increasing endowment from under $20 million to $200 million.
As someone with a great deal of experience building interdisciplinary collaborations (she fostered cross-disciplinary initiatives in photonics, bioengineering, and biolo-gically inspired materials, and energy and the environment at Duke), Johnson says she's especially pleased with the Krieger School's focus on such collaborations. She's looking forward, she says, to developing opportunities for even more research done at the intersections of disciplines, as well as work that brings together faculty from different divisions within Hopkins.
A field such as brain sciences, for instance, is best advanced by the research and scholarship of a variety of disciplines, including those in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and life sciences. "What better place to look at this kind of integration than Johns Hopkins?" Johnson says.
Johnson is eager to connect with the Krieger School—she has a love of the arts and deep interests in several disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including psychology and anthropology. Getting to know the school's department chairs and faculty members is chief among her priorities, she says, so that she may "understand what they feel is important, their ambitions and aspirations, and the trends of scholarship in their fields."
Originally planning to be a physicist, Johnson switched paths her sophomore year after her father died. Like his father before him, he had been an electrical engineer, and the more she explored her father's work, the more inspired she became. She graduated from Stanford University in 1981 with a bachelor's and master's degree in electrical engineering and earned her PhD at Stanford in 1984 before returning to her home state of Colorado. She served on the faculty of the University of Colorado in Boulder for 14 years before joining Duke.
Johnson holds 40 patents and is co-founder of several start-up companies. A fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2003; a year later, she won the Achievement Award of the Society of Women Engineers.
With more than 140 published articles, Johnson is best known in research circles for pioneering work in the field of smart pixel arrays, which has applications in displays, pattern recognition, and high-resolution sensors, including cameras.Johnson succeeds Steven Knapp, who had been the university's chief academic officer since 1996 and left to become president of the George Washington University on Aug. 1.