Photo credits: AACC.EDU
Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr., a civil engineer and administrator of education, was born in Annapolis, Maryland on May 27, 1947, to James and Arline Johnson. Howard University awarded him a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After that, he went to the University of Illinois, where he earned his M.S. in sanitary engineering in 1970. Before attending the University of Delaware, Johnson worked as a consultant and an engineer at Engineering Science. In 1982, he got his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering.
Johnson was given a place on the faculty of his alma mater, Howard University, after completing his doctoral studies. His research centered on the handling of hazardous substances, contaminated soil, and environmental policies, especially explosive waste. In 1982, he was appointed head of the Howard University Department of Civil Engineering. Johnson was the assistant director of the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic Hazardous Substance Research Center from 1989 until 2002.
He was awarded the Samuel P. Massie Professor of Civil Engineering in 2005 after being chosen dean of Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences in 1996. Johnson became professor emeritus of civil engineering at Howard University four years later. Administrator Lisa Jackson of the US Environmental Protection Agency named him head of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) in 2010.
Johnson was the first African-American to lead the Agency’s independent committee. He has also chaired the Board of Scientific Counselors of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Johnson was named director of the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), which is part of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, in 2012. Johnson has co-edited two volumes, contributed to three more, and has over 60 scholarly publications to his credit.
He is a member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and was honored with the National Society of Black Engineers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in Academia in 2005. In 2008, he received the Gordon Maskew Fair Distinguished Educator Award from the Water Environment Federation, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Black Engineers (DC Chapter) in 2009.
The Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Association of Environmental Engineers and Science Professors, and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers are among the organizations he is professionally affiliated with.