Agricultural Research magazine
Dr. Johnson is a native of Luck, Wisconsin. After military service he earned a B.S.
from the University of Wisconsin-RiverFallsin 1961, an M.S. from the Universityof Minnesota in
1963, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1968. He began his career with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service at Beltsville, Maryland in 1964
as a research physiologist and continued there until his retirement in 2000 from the
position of Research Leader of the Germplasm & Gamete Physiology Laboratory where
since 1991 he provided leadership for 6 permanent scientists and support personnel. He was
Visiting Scientist at the Research Institute for Animal Production, Zeist, The Netherlands
in 1977-78. Currently Dr. Johnson serves as a private consultant on gamete physiology.
Dr. Johnson had a very productive scientific career that spanned nearly 40 years. His research has significantly advanced our knowledge of animal science at the basic cellular
level and several of his discoveries have been applied in practice. His most significant
research accomplishment was the development the only successful method of sex pre-selection.
The USDA-Beltsville Sperm Sexing Technology was patented by ARS, USDA and subsequently licensed for commercial practice. The technology utilizes DNA as a
sex-specific marker to sort living X and Y sperm into separate populations using laser
technology. Offspring are of the predicted sex 95% of the time. It is also
used in human medicine and provides couples at risk to genetic sex-linked disease a means
of disease avoidance for their children.
His international collaborations in semen
preservation resulted in the successful introduction of the BTS swine semen extender to
commercial practice worldwide where it is now the predominant swine semen extender in the world
with an estimated 30 million doses produced annually. He was co-developer of the
Beltsville Freezing and Thawing Procedure for swine semen, which has been used by breeders to
propagate premier swine genetics around the world for the past 25 years.
Throughout his career,
Dr. Johnson has been active as a leader among his peers. He was the co-founder of the 200 member
International Conference on Swine Semen Preservation that is now in its 19th year. He is the author
or coauthor of more than 190 scientific articles in refereed journals and 200 abstracts and other
He has received numerous awards for his achievements, among them, the Distinguished Senior
Scientist Award for ARS, USDA and the Alexander von Humboldt Award of 1994 for the most
significant contribution to American Agriculture during the previous five years. He was
inducted into the USDA-ARS Science Hall of Fame in 2001. He is a Fellow of the American Society of
Animal Science and has been awarded their research physiology award. He was named a
Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-RiverFalls. He and his wife
Janice reside in Silver Spring, MD, and are the parents of three children and six grandchildren.