To support her career as a scientist, the National Science Foundation awarded a graduate fellowship to Christina Johnson ’14.
The fellowship — bestowed to roughly 10 percent of applicants — provides an annual stipend and funding toward tuition for three years at any accredited U.S. graduate institution. Johnson will use the award to offset expenses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she’s pursuing a PhD in microbiology.
In graduate school, Johnson is studying the molecular mechanisms cells use to respond and adapt to stress.
“When I got the news about this award, I was dumbfounded,” Johnson says. “I was incredibly surprised but extremely happy.”
After graduation, Johnson wants to pursue a career that helps people gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of science.
“I want to inspire people with my love of science,” she says.
While at Willamette, Johnson majored in biology. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, earned a Martha Springer Biology Scholarship, and worked directly with faculty through the Science Collaborative Research Program.
During her senior year, her research brought her to the international Caulobacter/stalked-alpha-proteobacteria conference in Germany, where she gave a talk and presented a poster.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity to interact with amazing scientists and receive their feedback,” she says.
Johnson also worked closely with biology professor Melissa Marks, who helped her identify what intrigued her most about biology.
“Being able to ask exciting questions and find answers to them — that’s what biology is about to me, and I love it,” she says. “My time at Willamette, with Melissa and the entire biology department, helped foster that love.”