Bill Johnson, PhD

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Geography and Atmospheric Science
Professor
Primary office:
785-864-5548
Lindley Hall
Room 419
University of Kansas
1475 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045-7613


My first research love is exploring and defining the litho-, chrono-, pedo-, bio-, and magnetostratigraphy of aeolian deposits (loess and sand) in the central Great Plains, and extracting paleoenvironmental information. In the course of doing the above, I enjoy applying stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O) analyses to derive soil-vegetation-climate relationships in modern soils and in paleosols. In the realm of geoarchaeology, I attempt to reconstruct environmental conditions and landscape evolution, as related to prehistoric peoples. A research interest that has persisted since my Ph.D. days with Jim Knox at UW-Madison is that of stream system response to late-Quaternary (middle-late Pleistocene and Holocene) climatic variation, and development of alluvial chronologies. Lastly, I try to bring the above interests and skills together in the field mapping and development of large-scale digital maps of surface and near-surface Neogene and Quaternary geology.

http://res.ku.edu/~soils/Home.html

Teaching

I have been teaching introductory physical geography starting with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, followed by the University of Oklahoma, to the present at KU (last 36 years). During all these years, I have been intimately associated with the companion laboratory course (Physical Geography Laboratory), which has included development and frequent revision of the book of exercises used in the laboratory course, as well as supervising as many as 10 graduate teaching assistants assigned as laboratory instructors. During the last two academic years, our physical geography group has been transitioning two of our four large (~200 students each) Introductory Physical Geography lecture sections from traditional lecture the format to a student-centered format, i.e., we are "flipping" or "hybridizing" the approach to teaching. This is an exciting but challenging change, which is yet in progress. I have modified the accompanying laboratory book of exercises to accommodate our two approaches to teaching the course.

The first of my regularly-taught upper-level courses is Geomorphology, which is now being team-taught, with Mike Taylor in the Department of Geology. The students indicate that they find the course highly enjoyable and extremely beneficial; this is to a large extent attributable to the combination of my and Mike's extensive but complementary research--though Mike and I are both trained in geology, his expertise lies in neotectonics and structural geology, whereas mine lies in the realm of Quaternary geology and soils. The students particularly like the week-long field trip to Death Valley. Though I have taught a broad spectrum of advanced courses in the past (ranging from pollen analysis to stable isotope and rock magnetic analyses, I now teach primarily Advanced Geomorphology, which focuses on Quaternary stratigraphy and paleoenvironments.

Teaching Interests

  • Introductory Physical Geography, Geomorphology, Advanced Geomorphology, Quaternary stratigraphy, Late Quaternary paleoclimatology
  • Late Quaternary environments, Geologic Mapping

Research

Quaternary stratigraphy: Litho-, chrono-, pedo-, bio-, and magnetostratigraphy of aeolian deposits (loess and sand) in the central Great Plains, and environmental (flora, fauna, climate) reconstruction

Stable isotope geochemistry: Application of stable isotopes (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O) to soil-vegetation-climate relationships in modern soils and paleosols of the central Great Plains

Geoarchaeology: Paleoenvironmental conditions and landscape evolution in the central Great Plains, as related to prehistoric peoples; modeling the distribution of surface and buried cultural materials

Fluvial geomorphology: Stream system response to late-Quaternary (middle-late Pleistocene and Holocene) climatic variation, and development of alluvial chronostratigraphies

Geologic mapping of Neogene and Quaternary deposits : Field mapping and development of large-scale digital maps of surface and near-surface geology for selected areas of central and western Kansas http://www.kgs.ku.edu/General/Geology/index.html

Service

Though I have served on many university and College-level committees during the last 30+ years, the greatest satisfaction comes from serving the at the departmental level. At present, my duties include curriculum matters, particularly assisting the office manager with each semester's course list (timetable). Long-term duties have included (1) management of our introductory physical geography lectures and in particular the associated laboratory sections (weekly planning meeting, etc.); and (2) the management and development of the KU Soils Geomorphology Laboratory, which is used for teaching and for undergraduate and graduate student research. Lastly, I have been closely associated with the Kansas Geological Survey since the early 1980s as a geologic mapper, which has been a tremendous time sink but very enjoyable experience and source of support for undergraduate and graduate students (UGRAs and GRAs).

Selected Work

http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Images/DB/index.html The KGS Photo Library is a collection of photos of different subjects from around the state. These photos may be used for any non-commercial purpose, Kansas Geological Survey Photographic Collection.


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