The University of North Dakota’s Vice President for Research & Economic Development Phyllis Johnson was recently reappointed to the national Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
This will be her second three-year term of service representing academics/researchers. ISAC members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, with extensive input from National Invasive Species Council (NISC) member departments and agencies; and may serve a maximum of two terms, each three years in length. Johnson also is chairwoman of ISAC Research Subcommittee.
“One of the niches I fill on ISAC is that I am an advocate for systematics and taxonomy – the science of naming and classifying all biological organisms,” Johnson said, “because it’s hard to develop controls for invasive plants, animals, insects, fungi, etc., if you don’t know exactly what organisms you are dealing with.”
ISAC is a group of nonfederal experts and stakeholders established and mandated by executive order to provide advice to the NISC on invasive species-related issues. Since its creation in 1999, ISAC has provided valuable input to NISC and has produced several documents to assist federal agencies provide guidance on invasive species challenges.
Vice President Johnson, a Grafton, N.D., native, has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a doctorate in physical chemistry from UND. She did her postdoctoral work at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (HNRC). Johnson previously served as director in the Beltsville Area for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. She managed a broad range of research, from entomology to genomics to remote sensing. Under her direction, USDA’s flagship Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) led the USDA in biofuel and bio-based product utilization and received three White House awards for these and other environmental activities.
She was also co-chair of a federal interagency working group developing science policy related to critical national research infrastructure. She continues to represent the U.S. government on this topic internationally. Johnson was also recognized by former President Clinton as being in the top 5 percent of senior executives across the federal government.
Johnson is active in community and national organizations, and was the first woman to be named president of a Sons of Norway district.
— Kate Menzies, University Relations student writer
David L. Dodds
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