Faculty Spotlight: Mary Ann Johnson

Mary Ann Johnson
Meet Mary Ann Johnson, the Jean Sundell Tinstman Professor in Nutrition and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences.
January 26, 2021

About Mary Ann 

I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, attended Columbus High School, completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Northern Iowa, and a doctoral degree in nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Most of my academic career was with the University of Georgia in the Department of Foods and Nutrition. My last few years at UGA I worked in both the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and in the College of Public Health with the Institute of Gerontology and the Department of Health Policy and Management. My husband, Terry, is an agricultural lawyer who grew up on a farm up-state New York. We have two children who have completed graduate degrees in food and agriculture. Ann has work experience in county Extension and John has experience in an international food industry.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I am the Jean Sundell Tinstman Professor in Nutrition and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences. NHS is in the College of Education and Human Sciences, as well as within the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I was drawn to UNL to live in the Midwest where I grew up and because of the wonderful opportunities in many areas of nutrition, food, agriculture, human health and hospitality in both CEHS and IANR. Our faculty and staff are forward thinking in their Extension, teaching and research to discover and apply the science of nutrition, food, physical activity, health behavior and hospitality to enhance human well-being. Our students also come from all over Nebraska and the world with diverse interests that keep our programs relevant and vibrant.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

My greatest joys come from helping staff, students, and faculty be successful. This involves “meeting people wherever they are” in their educational and life journey. This can be just about anything from assisting a student in finding an educational program that best aligns with their career interests, supporting instructors to adapt and adopt their teaching methods during the pandemic, to strategizing with faculty about new research directions and opportunities.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My family is my greatest achievement. Seeing our children develop, adapt and change over the years has been very rewarding and seeing the world through their eyes helps me be a more informed and caring person.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

For personal and professional reasons, I have traveled quite a bit internationally and have lived in Germany, Austria and Scotland. In high school I was a swimmer, diver, and captain of the swim team, and was active in Girl Scouts, camping, canoeing, biking, hiking and racquetball. 

What is your life like outside of work?

Our children live in Florida and Virginia and we vacation together a few times a year. In non-pandemic conditions, I enjoy travel, live concerts and performances, and collecting local and regional pottery. Now I am doing more reading, especially about health, longevity and history. I am also eating a lot better because my husband is doing most of the cooking!