Office Hours: Doug Johnson

Colin Sheridan

“If you really want to ask deep and interesting questions but still answer them with the scientific method,” As-sociate Professor of Psychology Doug Johnson said, “then psychology is about as far as you can go.”

“People tend to pick what they’re interested in based on the sliding scale of how interesting you want the question to be and how definitive you want the answer to be,” Johnson said, “and in terms of those criteria, psychology is the perfect fit.”

Professor Johnson grew up in Iowa and completed his under-gradate education at Washington University in St. Louis. There, after taking his second psychology class, he developed a passion for the sub-ject. From Washington Univer-sity, he attended graduate school at Johns Hopkins University, while also teaching psychology classes at Towson State University.

Professor Johnson was drawn to Colgate because, as he explained, other universities do not devote the same kind of attention to their undergraduates as Colgate does. At larger schools, professors are re-warded for their ability to get grants and publish books, but Professor Johnson was looking for a school where the quality of teaching was the primary emphasis. He also mentioned that Colgate provides the means for faculty to be quality teachers as well as scholars, and that the students here are motivated and fun to work with.

Professor Johnson is a cognitive psychologist, focusing on attention, perception and memory. Currently, his independent research deals with the intersection between metacog-nition (which, as he described it, is “the ability to know what you know”) and memory.

“There’s data that shows that when people are trying to learn something new, they tend to stop studying it right before they master it,” Johnson said. “One of my hy-potheses is that there’s a difference between feeling that something is familiar and truly understanding it.”

In past years, Professor John-son served as Chair of the Scien-tific Perspectives Program from 2004 to 2007 and the Associate Dean of Faculty from 2007 to 2010. Additionally, he represents Colgate as part of the Patriot League Policy Committee.

Professor Johnson also used to sit on the board of the Southern Madison County Volunteer Am-bulance Corps, a non-profit orga-nization that provides emergency medical care in Hamilton and the surrounding area. On more than a few occasions, he was asked to wake up in the middle of the night to help out “over-served” Colgate students.

“‘Altered mental status’ is a is a real medical emergency because there are a lot of things that can cause it, which include, but are not limited to, the imbibing of alcohol,” Johnson said. “But the person involved could potentially be showing signs of a stroke, or have hit his head, so standard pro-cedure is to use a heart monitor and an IV, and I used to do that quite commonly.”

Professor Johnson is an avid snowmobiler in the winter and motorcyclist in the summer and lives in Hamilton with his wife and two children.

The Princeton Review recently featured Professor Johnson as one of “The 300 Best Professors by Schools,” along with nine other Colgate faculty members in their recent publication.

Contact Colin Sheridan at [email protected]