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Pamela Jo Johnson named to head NDSU Department of Public Health

North Dakota State University has announced that Pamela Jo Johnson has been selected as chair and associate professor of the Department of Public Health in the College of Health Professions at North Dakota State University. Johnson also was named the Mary J. Berg Distinguished Professor of Women’s Health at NDSU.

“Dr. Johnson’s background in epidemiology, research, community health, diverse populations and teaching bring an extensive and experienced view to educate future professionals in public health,” said Charles D. Peterson, dean of the College of Health Professions at NDSU.

“Her background spans academic, government, and health policy settings. Her expertise will assist public health students at NDSU to gain skills and provide opportunities in their chosen field. We welcome Dr. Johnson as she guides NDSU’s program through a consistently changing healthcare landscape where public health plays an increasingly important role,” said Peterson.

Johnson begins her new role at NDSU on August 1. She has served in many areas of public health practice, most recently as senior research scientist in the Minnesota Department of Health, Centers for Health Equity and Community Health. She has been a research investigator and consultant for major health care systems in Minnesota. 

Johnson previously held faculty positions at the University of Minnesota in the Center for Spirituality and Healing and the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health. She received the A. Marilyn Sime Fellowship at the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing, focused on Integrative Therapies and Health Practices for Wellbeing in Diverse Populations.

“Whether it is developing chronic disease prevention programs in our communities, improving birth outcomes for women and infants, managing emerging infectious diseases, or ensuring the safety of our food and water sources, public health professionals are integral to our health and wellbeing,” said Johnson. “My vision for NDSU Public Health is to facilitate the development of an academic Department of Public Health that is a leader in public health practice and research training and that prepares students to address the unique needs of rural populations, American Indian communities, and other diverse groups.”

Her focus for the Department of Public Health at NDSU includes increasing research capacity among faculty and students; enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations; partnering with state and local public health, healthcare delivery, social services, community organizations, and tribes; and preparing students to address social determinants of health.

“This social determinants perspective reminds us to always consider how the locations, conditions, and circumstances in which we live and work influence our health,” said Johnson.

Her experience includes working as director of youth programs at the Peacemaker Center in Minneapolis to develop culturally-appropriate health education programs for American Indian youth in collaboration with American Indian professionals and elders.

Johnson’s previous research includes:  Enhancing a Health Systems Ability to Address Health Disparities through Healthcare Equity Research; Healthcare Disparities as Emerging Phenomena of a Complex System; Methodological Issues in American Indian Health Disparities Research; and Social Determinants of American Indian Infant Mortality. Her current research extends her previous healthcare disparities research by including mental health and women’s health across the lifespan, with an emphasis on midlife and aging.

Her research results have been published in American Journal of Public Health, Women’s Health Issues, Journal of Aging and Health, Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, JAMA Internal Medicine, Medical Care, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Population Health Management, Epidemiology, American Journal of Managed Care and others.

She is a member of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, American College of Epidemiology, National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, and the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research.

Johnson received a Ph.D. in social epidemiology and a master’s of public health degree in community health education from the University of Minnesota. Johnson completed a post-doctoral appointment in Health Services Research/Survey Research in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota.

The Master of Public Health program at NDSU offers specializations in American Indian Public Health, Community Health Sciences, Food Safety, and Management of Infectious Diseases. The program offers both on-campus and distance education options, which reaches students throughout the country. The program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.


Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-6269 / Fax: (701) 231-5586
Campus address: Research 2
Physical/delivery address: 1805 Research Park Drive, Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 2662 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: Department of Public Health