Howard University Chair:
Dr. James H. Johnson

Dr. Johnson is a professor of Civil Engineering and has been dean of the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences at Howard University since 1996.

Prior to this appointment, he was the chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and interim associate vice president for Research for Howard University. Dr. Johnson received his B.S. from Howard University, M.S. from the University of Illinois and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. He has taught Department of Civil Engineering undergraduate and graduate courses in the area of environmental engineering including hazardous waste management, treatment and disposal.

Dr. Johnson's research interests include treatment and reuse of wastewater sludge and the treatment of hazardous substances, the evaluation of environmental policy issues in relation to minorities and the development of environmental curricula.

In the course of his Howard tenure, he has been the head of several interdisciplinary centers located on campus and the Howard lead in several consortia based at other universities. Currently Dr. Johnson is the co-principal investigator (with Ramesh Chawla), of the HBCU/MI Environmental Technology Consortium., a 17 member DOE environmental research, education and technology transfer funded project. From 1989-2002, he was the associate director, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic Center for Hazardous Substance Research-a U.S. EPA Center Serving Federal Regions 3 and 5; participating colleges included The U. of Michigan, Michigan State U. and Howard. From 1996-2002, he oversaw the activities of ECSEL (Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence and Leadership in Education) a seven-member, National Science Foundation-funded consortium of which Howard was the lead institution. (Other members were CCNY, MIT, Morgan State U., U. of Maryland, Washington U. and Penn State.)

Since 1971, Dr. Johnson has participated in consulting activities, mostly recently from 2002 to the present in the Office of the President, University of California, as a member of the Environmental, Health and Safety Panel monitoring activities at the three DOE National Laboratories operated by the University of California. He has also been a consultant to the administrator of Department of Public Works, Water and Sewer Utility Administration, Washington, D.C., and to Stottler Stag and Associates where he prepared preliminary engineering design of wastewater treatment facilities in Livorno, Italy for the U. S. Air Force.

Dr. Johnson is a member of the National Research Council's Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) Board of Directors, SECME's Board of Director, Board of Directors of the Engineering Deans Council of the American Society for Engineering Education and serves on several university and private sector advisory committees. He has been a paper referee, proposal reviewer or performed editorial functions for the Water Environment Federation, the Journal of Hazardous Waste, American Council on Education, New York State Center for Hazardous Waste Management, State University of New York at Buffalo, International Association on Water Pollution Research and the National Science Foundation.

His publications number over 50 scholarly articles, contributions to three books, and he has co-edited two books including one on hazardous waste. Dr Johnson's memberships in professional organizations include the American Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, American Water Works Association, fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education and Tau Beta Pi. Dr. Johnson is a registered professional engineer in the District of Columbia and a diplomat of the American Academy of Environmental Engineer.

As a dedicated Howard alumnus, he has been active participant in supporting Howard University projects. In 2000, he was chair of the University-wide Advisory Committee for Strategic Framework for Action II and in 1996-98, he was chair of the Howard University Republic of South Africa Project (HURSAP), and previous to that in 1996 he was a member of the Howard Educational Delegation to the Republic of South Africa. He has also been an active member of the Howard Committee on Research Infrastructure and a member of the Howard University Task Force on Graduate Education and Research.

A Discussion with Dr. Johnson on Program Goals

"In my role as the incumbent of the Massie Chair at Howard University, I have formulated program goals that express actions needed to increase the participation of minorities in environmental engineering studies and the profession. First, for students in K-12, we must include environmental topics across the curriculum in English, science, technology and mathematics. This may include designing modules as well as creating on-line learning experiences. Pedagogical avenues for advancing understanding of the importance of the environment for this age group include outreach programs such as those in which Howard University has been engaged for over 30 years as well as seminars to increase parental involvement."

"The second goal is to widen the environmental engineering focus to allow the cross-fertilization of various disciplines in order to truly integrate all the factors that impact on environmental policies, decision-making, research and development and technology; these range from politics to economics to societal values. The role of nanotechnology in achieving this goal will operate inclusively and naturally lead to experts and scholars across a spectrum of disciplines uniting to create new technologies and processes."

"The third goal is one to ensure the future. This goal concentrates on developing a cadre of eager, excited and curious learners who will become the next generation of engineers and scientists to forge new processes, technologies and policies to protect, preserve, extend our natural resources and expand the possibilities of our environment, e.g., by investigating the potential and limits of manufacturing in space, exploitation of hydrogen-based fuels, and the use of microbes and their enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions for environmental applications such as decontaminating radioactive wastes and producing plastics from agricultural crops."

"Briefly, the three goals that I expect our College to address are:

  1. Increasing the participation of minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematical disciplines by using environmental subjects as a platform for teaching topics at K-12 grade levels.

  2. Increasing the interdisciplinarity/multidisciplinarity nature of environmental engineering and science by expanding the use of nanotechnology and computational toxicology tools in the field.

  3. Encouraging and helping to train the next cadre of environmental engineers and scientists to enter the professoriate."

Selected Publications and Presentations

Professional Organizations/Associations/Accomplishments

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