Dr. Crystal Johnson
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, School of the
Coast and Environment, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is currently
examining how Vibrio
spp. (V. parahaemolyticus
, V. vulnificus
, and V. cholerae
respond to environmental cues, including sea surface temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, turbidity,
suspended particulate matter, and dissolved organic carbon.
"You can’t tell me what I can’t do."
Crystal also has a very strong commitment to outreach, expressed through her work with COSEE Central
Gulf of Mexico (CGOM) as well as the establishment of several student-based programs, such as the Summer
Research Internship (SumRI), in which two high school students spend six to eight weeks in her lab.
Some of her colleagues refer to Crystal as "obsessed". It is true that she spent $1000 dollars out of
her own pocket to support undergrads until their stipends were approved. It is true that she often eats
lunch and dinner at the lab. She's also a self-described germaphobe who can't swim, who spends all her
time investigating toxic seafood. And she's always surprised how much she stands out in people's memories.
Growing up in Smallpoint, Mississippi, Crystal didn't know what a scientist looked like, had never been
in a lab, and perhaps because of that had no preconceived ideas of what a scientist is "supposed" to be.
"I like to tell people I had a low GPA, I was not the straight-A student, but I was excited about it and
a hard worker," says Crystal. Being told she would never get a Ph.D. just lit a fire under her and made
her work that much harder. "When I interview potential students I don't just look at their grades," she
says. "If they have that fire then I pick those students. I pick them if I see a little bit of myself in
Photographs and images for Crystal's pages courtesy of Crystal Johnson and COSEE Central Gulf of Mexico.