Published: April 2, 2019

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Pieter Johnson has been named the 2019 recipient of the Hazel Barnes Prize, the most distinguished award a faculty member can receive from the university.

Pieter Johnson

Professor Pieter Johnson

Since 1992, the Hazel Barnes Prize has been awarded each year to a CU Boulder faculty member who exemplifies the enriching interrelationship between teaching and research, and whose work has had a significant impact on students, faculty, colleagues and the university.

Noted in nomination materials as an advocate for student learning and an innovative researcher and science communicator, to the benefit of public knowledge, Johnson is a professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His areas of expertise include biological change, particularly disease emergence and species invasion, working among a variety of organisms including zooplankton, amphibians, fish, insects and humans.

In his approach, Johnson emphasizes the importance of working with students and is an advocate for their involvement and scientific contributions, describing students as “making the most insightful and inspired connections in many research endeavors.”

According to Johnson, who serves on the University Honors Council and co-directs the Honors Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, he has taught introductory biology to about 7,803 undergraduates. Within his lab, nearly all of his papers are published in collaboration with undergraduate or graduate students. Since arriving at CU Boulder, he has mentored 81 undergraduate or high-school students, of whom 71 percent were women and 18 percent came from underrepresented groups. Johnson also has advised 17 graduate students or postdoctoral researchers.

Johnson is no stranger to recognition among the scholarly and scientific communities. Included in his many awards and fellowships through the years, he received a CAREER Award beginning in 2012 from the National Science Foundation. In 2013 through 2017, he was named an Early Career Fellow by the Ecological Society of America. In 2015, Johnson received the provost’s Faculty Achievement Award.

Johnson has an extensive record of mentoring and advising students at the undergraduate through postdoctoral levels, as well as teaching experience, university and professional service, peer-reviewed publications and invited presentations.

His research on the unexpected effects of the cat-borne parasite Toxoplasma gondii; community ecology and advancing the fight against infectious diseases; biodiversity as a protection against amphibian disease and more has caught the media and public’s attention.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin.

The prize, which will be presented at spring commencement, includes a $20,000 cash award and an engraved university medal.

The prize was established in honor of renowned philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes, who taught at CU Boulder from 1943 to 1986 and who passed away in 2008.