Claudia C. Johnson earned her Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and she completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at Pennsylvania State University before joining the Indiana University (IU) faculty in 1995.
Johnson is a geologist and paleoecologist who studies the evolutionary record of reef ecosystems. Her research investigates ancient reefs in the geologic record, and the impact of 21st-century climate change on coral diversity, coral bleaching, and diseases. A team of undergraduate and graduate students from her lab and the Center for Underwater Science collect modern coral data with SCUBA. Another team uses machine learning and data mining to measure the rate of coral extinction over the past decades. Together they seek to understand the biodiversity of corals in our oceans, the factors that drive their rise and fall, and the risks corals face in today’s oceans.
Johnson uses her geologic skills to work with the Stone Age Institute at one of the most prominent sites in the world for human evolution, Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Africa. There, Johnson focuses on landscape evolution by investigating riverine, lacustrine, volcanic, and gravity-induced processes for the time of the evolving lineages of hominins, particularly Homo erectus.
Johnson works diligently to support diversity and inclusion in the scientific community. As director of graduate studies, she developed an assistant instructorship training program to enhance professional development for graduate students and improve the quality of assistant instructor support to undergraduates. She regularly publishes co-authored research papers with graduate students, including many female scientists. Johnson has cultivated significant mentoring relationships with students and field assistants in the Caribbean and at the Olduvai Gorge field station in Tanzania. As a member of the Paleontological Society’s Executive Committee, Johnson has been engaged in developing diversity statements and events that invite underrepresented groups to join the international organization. Johnson has made distinguished contributions to the field of paleoecology and is recognized as a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and served two terms as a distinguished lecturer for the Paleontological Society. She has earned several teaching awards at IU.