Faculty Spotlight: Gregory Johnson

Calculus I is a standard first-year core class at Mines and one the vast majority of students here are familiar with. For this reason, it is not surprising that many students roll their eyes when Professor Gregory Johnson uses his famous line “you don’t know it because I haven’t taught you yet!” What initially sounds like hubris turns out to be gentle honesty as Johnson amazes his class with a seemingly impossible equation. As the students release a sigh of realization, the professor turns towards his class with a grin on his face and asks, “How about another example?”

Johnson is currently in his sixth year at the School of Mines, pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics. This grants the professor the unique position of being knowledgeable in his particular discipline, yet retaining the understanding of the struggles of the college student. His natural gift for numbers is apparent. Johnson said,”As far as I can remember, math and numbers have always been easy for me.” His numerical flexibility transitions well into the classroom environment. Johnson can describe mathematical functions in different ways so that every student gets the opportunity to learn. Johnson is well on his way to becoming a full-time college professor, a personal goal of his when he completes his graduate degree program.

The professor is far from a one trick pony however. Johnson’s mathematical skills are rivaled by his moves on the dance floor. He explains that as he was growing up, “Dancing was what was happening.” As early as elementary school, Johnson explored the many facets of dance, including hip hop and Latin style dances. Once he attended Mines, he joined the local dancing community, expanding his knowledge to ballroom dance and jazz. Johnson now gives dance lessons twice a week, sharing his years of experience with others. His favorite style of dance is Argentinian Ballroom, a less formal variant of the classic ballroom dance. Johnson has also expressed great interest in parkour, or the efficient use of the body to traverse objects. He trains several days a week in order to stay in shape. This, combined with his regular workout at the climbing wall, is part of his training routine for his eventual application to the American Ninja Warrior show.

Professor Johnson also shared a few trivia facts about himself. His favorite number is a modest 17. He noted that many mathematicians prefer fancier numbers such as i and e, but 17 holds a special place in his heart, as 17 was his number throughout his high school soccer career. Also, surprisingly enough, his favorite dessert is not pie, rather it is cheese cake. “It is sort of like pie,” he claimed. When he is not teaching, dancing, or just being awesome, Johnson is hard at work on his graduate research project.

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