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J. Spencer Johnston

Professor of Genetics/Entomology

Dr. Johnston is working in his labDr. J. Spencer JohnstonDr. Johnston is working in his lab

Mailing Address:

Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2475

Phone & Fax:

(409) 845-8295 &  (409) 845-6305


Present Position:

Professor of Genetics/Entomology
Member of Genetics Faculty, Member of Graduate Faculty
Department of Entomology & Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas


Ph.D., Genetics, 1972, Dr. W. B. Heed; University of Arizona, Tucson

B.S., Zoology, 1967, University of Washington, Seattle


Go to Professional Experience Go to Professional Activities & Recognition
Go to Teaching Go to Research
Go to Graduate Student Advisor Go to Grant Support
Professional Society Membership Go to Johnston's Publications


Professional Experience:

Professor of Genetics/Entomology, Department of Entomology, TAMU, 1997 - present

Director of Flow Cytometry: Center for Biosystematics and Biodiversity, TAMU, Sep. 89 - present

Associate Professor of Entomology, Department of Entomology, TAMU,  1986 - 1997
Associate Professor, Department of Plant Science, TAMU, Jan. 1980 - Aug 1985

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Baylor University, Waco, Sep. 1975 - Dec. 1979

NIH Post-doctoral Fellow, (Genetics), University of Texas, Austin, Sep. 1972 - Aug. 1975


Professional Activities and Recognition:

Outstanding Undergraduate Genetics Professor, 1996
Outstanding Undergraduate Genetics Professor, 1992
Agricultural Advisory Committee, 1983 - 1984
Agricultural Advisory Committee Chair, 1985
Faculty Senate, 1988-1991
Genetics Executive Committee, 1989 - 1992
Genetics Prelims Committee Chair, 1983 - 1988
Key speaker for the Hawaii Evolutionary Biology Program, 1985
Key speaker for the IPM symposium on plant/insect interactions, 1986
Reviewer for Cytometry (1991-Present), Jn. of Genetics, 1972 - Present
Jn. of Evolution, 1975 - Present;  Bioch. Genet. 1976 - Present
Amer. Natur., 1976 - Present,  Ent. Soc. Amer. 1980-Present
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100% Appt. 1979 - 1981;  80% Appt. 1982 - Present

   I enjoy and take pride in my teaching, having taught over 4500 students to date in three undergraduate courses, Introductory Genetics (GENE 301), Population and Ecological Genetics (GENE 412) and Human Genetics (GENE 320), and four graduate courses, Population Genetics (GENE 612), Advanced Genetics (GENE 603), Cytogenetics (Baylor), and Biometrics (Baylor). My responsibilities at TAMU included development of the Genetics 301 laboratory, which is the largest such course in the nation. We have updated and published each year, since 1984, a methods/problems manual for the laboratory course. By the end of this year, the self-paced competency-based computer instructions that supplement the course and laboratory will be available on the World Wide Web via Netscape.



20% Appt. 1982 - Present

   My current research interests are in population genetics, ecological genetics and biodiversity, specifically as they relate to introduced or colonizing species. Drosophila mercatorum, the fire ant, greenbug, and (most recently) Strepsiptera, undergo massive genetic changes as they undergo the process of colonization. The changes are only now being documented and considered as essential parts of the evolutionary process. My other research interests are in genome evolution in plants and insects. We continue to document the extent and adaptive nature of these changes, and (in the sunflower) are getting ever closer to the molecular/adaptive basis of these changes.

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Graduate Student Advisor:

Jerry Cook. A study of the relationship between Caenocolax feneysi Pierce (Strepsiptera, Myrmecolacidae) and the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Ph. D. Thesis, Entomology 1996.

Martha Gomez. DNA content of cultivated varieties of cotton. M. S. Thesis, Genetics, 1993. FISH analysis of Sorghum Bicolor. Ph. D. Thesis. Genetics 1997.

Nina Barcenas. Cytogenetic and genome size studies of the boll weevil Anthonomus grandis Boheman and related species (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) Ph. D. Thesis, Genetics, 1992.
Kei Wei. Characterization of a cytosolic juvenile binding protein from the house fly, Musca domestica L. and its relationship to metabolic resistance to insecticides. Ph. D. thesis, Entomology, 1992.
Richard Thomas. Nutrition and aging in Drosophila mercatorum, Ph. D. Thesis, Entomology, 1990
Raymond Dunton. The population genetic structure of monogynous and polygynous populations of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, Ph. D. thesis, Entomology, 1988
Terry Cluck. The genetics of insecticide resistance in the Housefly, Ph. D. Thesis, Genetics, 1987
Judy Baldwin. Polytene chromosomes of Drosophila. hydei and D. mercatorum from Kamuela Hawaii. M. S. Thesis, Biology, Baylor University, 1979.
Mark Joiner. Factors affecting Drosophila Age determination. M. S. Thesis, Biology, Baylor University 1978.

Current Graduate Students: Andrea Jensen, Entomology Ph. D., Ron Cole, Entomology, Ph. D.

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Grant Support:

Texas Fireant Research Initiative
Principal Investigator
Genetic sterility in the red imported fireant, Solenopsis invicta Buren.  $350,000.  1998 - 2006
Texas Fireant Research Initiative
Co-Principal Investigator
An object-oriented model of control of the red imported fireant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. $350,000. 1998 - 2006
Texas Fireant Research Initiative Co-Principal Investigator
Development and characterization of a BAC library of the red imported fireant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. $350,000.
1998 - 2006
Interdisciplinary Research Initiatives
Co-Principal Investigator
Molecular biology of light induced DNA content changes in Helianthus annuus L.,  $22,330.  1996 - 1997
Computer Innovation. TAMU
Principal Investigator
Self-paced/tutorial genetics,  $10,000. 1994.
Minigrant. TAMU
Principal Investigator
Characterization of insect blood by mouse monoclonal antibodies,  $1400.  1993-1994.
NSF DIR-8907006
Co-Principal Investigator
Biological Facilities Center in Biosystematics,   $758,850.
1989 - 1993
Co-Principal Investigator
Population genetic structure of the red imported fire ant, $120,000.  1988 - 1990
Co-Principal Investigator
Genetics of a polygenic aging polymorphism in a species of Hawaiian Drosophila,  $112,000. 1980 - 1992
Principal Investigator
Genetic control of the red imported fire ant,  $80,000.
1985 - 1987
Principal Investigator
Drosophila population structure and migration,   $76,000.
9/77 - 8/79
Principal Investigator
Migratory behavior in desert Drosophilidae,  $62,000.
1977 - 1979

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Professional Society Memberships:

Cytometry Association
Genetics Society of America

Entomological Society of America

Society of American Naturalists
Texas Genetics Society


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This page was last updated on January 03, 2003.