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Robert Johnson

Research Professor

3115A MLBM
Provo, UT 84602


I was born in Delta, Utah and grew up as a teenager in American Fork, Utah. I got a B.S. and M.S. degree in Botany and Plant Ecology at Brigham Young University. After graduation I worked as a plant ecologist for the Department of Defense at Dugway Proving Ground for nearly 10 years followed by several years working as a Research Scientist at Brigham Young University. During this time I finished a Doctoral degree in Restoration Ecology and then took a job working for the Southern Nevada Water Authority managing a Nature Preserve in Warm Springs, Moapa, Nevada. Currently I am a faculty member in the Department of Biology at BYU with a primary responsibility as the plant collection manager for the Stanley L. Welsh Herbarium, Monte L. Bean Museum. Naturally I like plants, but also have a fondness for insects, poultry, history, and sugar.

Research Interests

    • Plant taxonomy
    • Plant-insect interactions


    • PhD, Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Brigham Young University, 2008
    • MS, Plant Ecology, Brigham Young University, 1993
    • BS, Botany and Range, Brigham Young University, 1991


    • Society of Herbarium Curators, 2015-Present
    • American Penstemon Society, 2014-Present
    • American Society of Plant Taxonomists, 2014-Present

    Courses Taught

    Fall 2018

    • BIO 235: Field Botany Section 002

    Winter 2018

    • BIO 494R: Mentored Research Section 009

    Spring 2017

    • BIO 235: Field Botany Section 001

    Fall 2016

    • BIO 235: Field Botany Section 002
    • BIO 494R: Mentored Research Section 010


    Journal Articles

    Rodríguez-Peña RA, Johnson RL, Johnson LA, Anderson CD, Ricks NJ, Farley KM, Robbins MD, Wolfe AD, Stevens MR. 2018. Investigating the genetic diversity and differentiation patterns in the Penstemon scariosus species complex under different sample sizes using AFLPs and SSRs. Conservation Genetics. 19(6):1335–1348.

    Johnson RL, Anderson VJ, Yankee A, Anderson ZV. 2017. Seed Predation in Wild Populations of Chamisso Arnica (Arnica chamissonis Less: Asteraceae) and New Host Records for Campiglossa snowi (Hering) (Diptera: Tephritidae). Western North American Naturalist. 77(1):14-21.

    Johnson RL, Stevens MR, Johnson LA, Robbins MD, Anderson CD, Ricks NJ, Farley KM. 2016. Molecular and morphological evidence for Penstemon luculentus (Plantaginaceae): a replacement name for Penstemon fremontii var. glabrescens. PhytoKeys. 63:47-62.

    Stevens MR, Johnson RL. 2016. Annual APS Summer Meeting Rewards: Taxonomic clarification of two Penstemon species of the Uinta Basin of Colorado and Utah. Bulletin of the American Penstemon Society. 75:8-20.

    Stevens MR, Johnson RL. 2015. Breeding native flowers for drought tolerant urban landscapes: 2014 progress report. Report of the Intermountain Native Plants Cooperative. 6:33-38.

    Johnson LA, Johnson RL. 2006. Morphological delimitation and molecular evidence for allopolyploidy in Collomia wilkenii (Polemoniaceae), a new species from northern Nevada. Systematic Botany. 31:349-360.


    Crump WW, Stettler JM, Johnson RL, Anderson CD, Harrison S, Stevens MR. The relationship between Penstemon × jonesii, P. eatonii, and P. laevis. Utah Rare Plant Meeting. Salt Lake City, UT. 2019 .

    Anderson NV, Johnson RL, Anderson VJ. Impacts on native bee populations exposed to domestic honey bee introductions. Society For Range Management Annual Meeting. St. George, Utah. 2017 .

    Stevens MR, Johnson RL, Stettler JM. Morphological and genetic characterization of blue penstemon (Penstemon cyaneus). Joint Annual Meeting of the SER-Great Basin Chapter and the Great Basin Native Plant Project. Boise, Idaho. 2016 .

    Stevens MR, Harrison S, Ensign B, Johnson RL. Progress report of diversity studies and interspecific hybridization in Penstemon. Annual WERA Meetings. Boise, ID. 2015 .

    Anderson VJ, Fugal R, Davies K, Johnson RL, Doan JB, Vernon JL. Impacts of Juniper and sagebrush chaining on surface lithic scatters. Utah Chapter of Wildlife Society. Moab, Utah. 2015 .

    Stevens MR, Johnson RL, Geary BD. Breeding native flowers for drought tolerant urban landscapes; 2014 progress report. Annual WERA Meetings. Kaysville, Utah. 2014 .

    Nelson CR, Johnson RL, Anderson VJ. A comparison of robber fly (Diptera: Asilidae) communities found in native and non-native plant associations in the Great Basin of western North America. 8th International Congress of Dipterology. Potsdam, Germany. 2014 .

    Johnson RL, Anderson VJ, Gardner ET, Nelson CR. Use of Utah juniper and sagebrush vs. cheatgrass and crested wheatgrass habitats by mini-predators – robberflies (Asilidae). Intermountain Native Plant Summit VII. Boise, Idaho. 2013 .