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SARAH JOHNSON

Associate Professor of Natural Resources & Biology, Northland College

Ph.D. - Botany - University of Wisconsin-Madison

M.S. - Biology - East Carolina University

B.S. - Biology - Northland College

I am a plant ecologist who studies long-term dynamics and patterns of diversity and composition in Great Lakes and Upper-Midwest region plant communities. To interpret these patterns, I study the roles of multiple interacting drivers of ecosystem changes at local and landscape scales. Much of my research has benefited from historical long-term data sets, and I am especially interested in studying long-term change in habitats and species that rely on frequent natural disturbance regimes (floodplain and coastal wetlands, coastal dunes, and rocky shorelines). Lake Superior coastal and maritime habitats--especially island systems--are at the heart of most of my research.


I am an advocate for bridging science and natural resource management and have collaborated with agency partners to design and refine vegetation monitoring programs.

Climate change is a significant concern for conservationists and natural areas managers, and as the co-chair of the Plants and Natural Communities Working Group for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), I collaborate with natural resource agency partners on developing climate change adaptation tools for ecosystem management.

One of my major goals as a professor is to provide students with research experiences via participation in my research, student-initiated projects, or projects initiated by local and regional agencies. I encourage hard-working undergraduate students to inquire about capstone research opportunities in my lab. I am proud of Northland College's emphasis on the environment and natural resources of the region, and am thankful that Nothland continues to include a variety of natural history courses in its curriculum. This is especially important given recent projections for declines in the numbers of naturalists and taxonomic experts that society needs to address complex ecological challenges.


I am a member and on the board of the Botanical Club of Wisconsin, and I hope to see some of you at future botanical forays where plant enthusiasts come together to document our state's native flora.