Dr. Johnson outstanding mentor of junior faculty

April 21, 2015

Image with caption: Keith Johnson, Ph.D.

Keith Johnson, Ph.D.

Keith Johnson, Ph.D., will receive the Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Junior Faculty Award at the April 23 annual faculty meeting.

  • Name: Keith Johnson, Ph.D.
  • Title: Professor, College of Dentistry
  • Joined UNMC: 2001
  • Hometown: Five miles, as the crow flies, southwest of Trimont, Minn.

Chancellor to speak

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., will give his annual address to the faculty at 4 p.m. on Thursday in the Durham Research Center Auditorium as part of the annual faculty meeting. Faculty Senate President Gay Canaris, M.D., assistant professor, internal medicine, College of Medicine, will provide an overview of the year's activities. Following the address and the award presentations, Dr. Gold will host a reception in the center's foyer.

Awards will be presented for Outstanding Teacher, Spirit of Community Service, Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Graduate Students and Outstanding Mentor of Junior Faculty, as well as the University of Nebraska's Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award (OTICA) and Outstanding Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) Award. Faculty members also will be recognized for their 5, 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of service.

With how many junior faculty do you work?
This is a difficult question to answer. At the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska Center for Cellular Signaling has been a focal point for my mentoring activities. Since the center is in its 12th year, a number of faculty have transitioned from junior to senior and are now mentoring junior faculty. To provide a more specific answer: it can go to 11.

What are the greatest rewards of mentoring?
One of the best rewards is when I see that people I have mentored are caring mentors themselves -- although I do not really know if this has anything to do with me.

Describe a moment when you realized your influence made a difference in someone's career.
When I was in graduate school, I tutored a beginning medical student. A non-traditional student with three kids at home and all that coursework, she was under lots of stress and doubting herself. There were times when our conversation was not just about biochemistry. She has been a physician now for over 30 years. I think I helped her continue on her path.

List three things few people know about you.

  • I have been a farmer, have worked in construction and in an aluminum foundry, have been a high school teacher and a quality assurance coordinator in a soap manufacturing company. I sifted through jobs trying to find one I could do long term, and, at least for now, I am sticking with this one.
  • From experience, I have concluded that pigs have a lot more personality than cows. None of the large animal behavioral psychologists I know disagree with the hypothesis that this difference exists because pigs are of smaller stature.
  • All of my formal education has been at public institutions.


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Beth Blackburn
April 21, 2015 at 9:20 AM

Interesting! Congratulations!!