Welcome Greg Johnson!

Welcoming our new PhD student, Greg Johnson

The Conservation Governance Lab is proud to announce its newest PhD student, Greg Johnson. Greg is funded through an elite graduate scholarship award  earned by the Wetland and Riparian Ecology Lab at Auburn UniversitySchool of Forestry and Wildlife under the stewardship of Dr. Chris Anderson. This project is funded by the United States National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Gulf Research Program and is titled A Coupled Natural-human Framework for Risk Assessment of Coastal Communities from Land-use and Climate change

For his role on the project, Greg will be joining the Conservation Governance Lab, under the stewardship of Dr. Kelly Dunning. They will focus on public policy for the sustainable management of coastal ecosystems, in a time when the climate is changing and more people than ever are moving to the Gulf. Their research focuses on politics, policy, and ecosystem conservation in the Gulf of Mexico region. Greg’s research will help coastal decision-makers navigate environmental change, its socio-economic causes, and natural hazards like major hurricanes. He will serve as a bridge between biophysical science and decision making that is so important to coastal management. 

Greg joins the Auburn Family as a proud Hoosier, who completed his Master of Public Affairs with a focus in policy analysis from the prestigious Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the number one ranked program in the U.S. many years running. According to Dr. Dunning, “Greg brings to our lab expertise from the National Guard on absorbing and recovering from natural and manmade disasters that you cannot get from studies. It has to come from experience. His work on a hurricane focused project, coupled with his public service, will provide the type of insights that will produce transformative and useful research. 

Greg’s grit and resilience are on full display in how he adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by setting up his own podcast aimed at prospective and current service members to better reach and communicate with his community. He will bring these skills to a community-based natural resource management project, where stakeholder inclusion, participation, and outreach are key to the research. 

Greg is a 12-year veteran of the Indiana Army National Guard and has been an active-duty Guardsman for the last 7 years. After finishing his undergraduate work in 2012, Greg deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where his unit was stationed in Kabul for 9 months. While there, he and his colleagues ran convoy security operations for logistical convoys throughout the entire province and surrounding NATO bases. Specifically, he was the Convoy Commander for upwards of 100 convoys outside the wire. It was a formative time in his life, and he wouldn’t change it for the world.

Greg met his wife of 7 years, Rebecca, in college. They welcomed their newborn child, Greyson Monroe, to the world almost one year ago. Coming back to his studies, while balancing the commitments of his family, with an accomplished spouse with a successful career herself, is what Greg has identified as a source of pride and a challenge to navigate during his PhD program. 

Greg believes getting a formal education for service members that are beginning to transition out of service is of the utmost importance. When asked about why this is so important, Greg said, “For one, it’s FREE! Use what you’ve earned!” referring to the GI Bill and its education benefits. He continued, “Additionally, the military has given us many soft skills that are hard to learn but easy to overlook.” Greg believes, as he said, “you can’t put a price tag on work ethic, attention to detail, and personal responsibility.” Pairing these skills with a focused education on something that interests you will separate you from the pack and set you up for continued success in whatever you decide to do with your life. 

Greg is ALWAYS available to chat with any veteran or non-traditional student that’s interested in pursuing an education after separating from service. He has used just about every education benefit the military has to offer and would be glad to help anyone navigate those, sometimes, murky waters. Just reach out!

Find Greg on Twitter here: @GregJohnsonSFWS