Teaching distinction puts Tracy Johnson in spotlight at UCSD in La Jolla
Tracy Johnson is an associate professor of molecular biology in the UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences. She received her bachelor’s degree from UCSD, her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, and was a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology.
Considered an outstanding instructor and mentor, Johnson was recently recognized with a UCSD’s Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Award for undergraduate teaching. The awards are presented annually for excellence in teaching, research, community service and performing and visual arts. In addition to her teaching, Johnson has shown award-winning leadership in the development of innovative curriculum and outreach to young people underrepresented in science.
What brought you to La Jolla?
Science. San Diego has an amazing scientific environment and when I was offered a faculty position at UCSD, I jumped at the opportunity to be part of it.
What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
If I could snap my fingers and change something, I’d put an end to the significant numbers of homeless people in the area. But I’d want this to happen because we had addressed the root causes of the problem—increased economic opportunities, resources for veterans, mental health resources etc.
Who or what inspires you?
My parents, friends and family — especially my 6-year-old son.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
My guest list would include Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles and Ray Eames, George Marshall, Bill Gates, and my son. The first seven people were all trailblazers and were, in their own ways, agents of social and/or political change. I’d love to learn how they accomplished what they did. Oh, and I’d love to hear how they explain this to a 6-year-old.
What are you reading?
I am reading “Plenty,” by Yotam Ottolenghi. It’s actually a vegetarian cookbook. The recipes and commentaries are delightful, and I’m not even a vegetarian!
What is it that you most dislike?
Hypocrisy. Although I realize that by saying that I may be guilty of it myself.
What is your most-prized possession?
Although I try not to get too focused on material possessions, I’d have to say it is my house here in La Jolla. Its renovation was a labor of love for me and my husband, and now it holds so many memories for me because it is where I spend time with my close friends and family.
What do you do for fun?
Cook, entertain … oh, and yoga; by the way, Four Seasons Yoga is an amazing studio!
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
I’m still working on one.
What would be your dream vacation?
Anywhere warm and sunny with everything crossed off of my to-do list; no unanswered e-mails, all the papers and grants written, summer camp signups done… Everybody’s gotta have a dream, right? Hmm … maybe that’s my motto …
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