In this issue
Alumna returns to teach
It’s only been a few years since she earned her undergraduate degree, so Andrea Johnson (MS 05) might be confused for a student when she enters UM classrooms this fall. But the doctoral student is well on her way to becoming a full-time professor.
Johnson, who graduated from Jackson State University and then earned a master’s degree from UM in 2005, has been hired as a full-time faculty member for the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management. She is among 11 new faculty members in the School of Applied Sciences this fall.
Working with former teacher and now-colleague Allison Ford-Wade, Johnson is researching women’s health, particularly osteoporosis.
Johnson’s research looks specifically at the bone density of women according to race. The idea is to find ways to increase prevention and early treatment of osteoporosis, and there are important motivations. Research has found that although African-American women generally have higher bone density than Caucasian women, they have a higher morbidity and mortality rate than Caucasians when they do fracture bones.
Initially, the university atmosphere was a drastic change from the atmosphere at Jackson State, Johnson said.
“It was a wake-up call in a lot of ways, but the people here have been unbelievably supportive,” she said. “I would tell students who want to enter academics to follow their dreams. I come from Oakland, Miss., where close to 50 percent of the population is below the poverty level and a little more than 1 percent has more than three years of college. But, I’m proof that you don’t have to be a product of your environment. Just work for what you want, and it can happen.”
School of Applied Sciences Dean Linda Chitwood said Johnson is an excellent teacher and will be a valuable example for students.
“[She] will be an excellent mentor and role model for our undergraduate exercise science students,” she said. “Many of our students are unaware of the wonderful career and professional opportunities available through research and doctoral studies. We need more intelligent, innovative and energetic health professionals, such as Ms. Johnson, working to solve our critical health issues.”
Johnson is one of nine children and the daughter of Regina Johnson of Oakland and the late Charles Johnson.