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Kristina M. Johnson

Kristina M. Johnson

American former government official, academic, engineer, and business executive
The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Engineer
Gender female
Birth 1958 (St. Louis)
Residence Albany
Education Stanford University
The details

Kristina M. Johnson (born May 7, 1957) is an American business executive, engineer, academic, and former government official, and 13th Chancellor of the State University of New York. She has been a leader in the development of optoelectronic processing systems, 3-D imaging, and color-management systems.

Early life and education

Kristina Johnson grew up in Denver, Colorado. She attended Hamilton Junior High School, where she founded the environmental club. As a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School, she won the Denver City and Colorado State science fair competitions, and placed second in the Physics division and a first place award from the Air Force at the International Science Fair for her project entitled, "Holographic Study of the Sporangiophore Phycomyces". Johnson grew up in a large, athletic family. She competed in Tae Kwon Do and learned to play lacrosse on the boys' lacrosse team. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Johnson founded the women's club lacrosse team (now varsity) and played on the field hockey team, trying out for the US Team in 1978. In 1979, Johnson was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and turned her focus to an academic career. Dr. Johnson received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


After the postdoctoral fellowship, Johnson was appointed assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1985, where she co-founded the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Optoelectronic Computing Systems and spun off several companies from her research laboratory including ColorLink, Inc which was later sold to RealD, responsible for the technology that helped re-launch the 3D movie industry. Additionally, she co-founded the Colorado Advanced Technology Institute Center of Excellence in Optoelectronics. In 1999, Johnson was appointed Dean of the School of Engineering at Duke University, which would be later named for distinguished alumnus, Edmund T. Pratt Jr., CEO emeritus of Pfizer Corporation.

In 2007, Johnson became the Senior Vice-President and Provost of Johns Hopkins University. In 2009, Johnson was appointed by President Obama as the Under Secretary of Energy at the US Department of Energy with the unanimous consent of the US Senate.

She is the founder of Enduring Hydro, a hydropower-focused energy firm. The firm has a joint venture with the New York City-based private equity firm I Squared Capital (called Cube Hydro Partners), that owns and operates 19 hydropower plants in the Eastern United States.

Johnson has been a director of Minerals Technologies Inc., Nortel and Guidant Corporation. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Boston Scientific Corporation, Cisco Systems and AES Corporation.

In April 2017 Johnson was appointed Chancellor of the 64-school State University of New York effective September 2017.

A strong proponent of women in leadership, science and engineering, she is passionate about STEM and STEAM education and creating jobs through small businesses.

Awards and honors

In 1993 Kristina Johnson was the first woman to be awarded the International Dennis Gabor Award for creativity in modern optics. In 2008, she received the John Fritz Medal, a prestigious award in the engineering profession.

In 2010, Johnson was the winner of the ABIE Award for Technical Leadership from the Anita Borg Institute.

In 2015, Johnson was elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her work developing polarization-control technologies.

In 2016, Johnson was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

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