Dr. John I. Johnson Memorial

Dear friends and colleagues:

Please join us in celebrating the life and works of Dr. John “Jack” Irwin Johnson at a memorial on the Michigan State University campus on Friday, October 27th, at 5pm at the MSU Radiology Building Auditorium.

The live stream will be available at https://media.hc.msu.edu/Mediasite/Play/d609f4094b2d4ff4a23b24b0e942c73e1d

For more than 50 years, Dr. Johnson fostered the spirit and tenacity for excellence that marks MSU scientific scholarship. Seemingly a permanent fixture at MSU, he joined the MSU community in 1965 and actively contributed across colleges and departments.  First, in the Biophysics, Psychology, and Zoology Departments (Associate Professor 1965- 1969, Professor, 1969-1981), with a stint from 1973-1978 as Chairman of the Biophysics Department.  Then, as Professor, in the Anatomy Department and Neuroscience Program (1981-1998), and Radiology Department and Neuroscience Program (1999-present). Dr. Johnson’s academic path began when graduating in 1952 with a degree in Philosophy (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Notre Dame.  A PhD in Psychology followed in 1957 from Purdue University. 


After serving as an Instructor and Assistant Professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee until 1960, he began comparative electrophysiology research at the University of Wisconsin with Drs. CN Woolsey, WI Welker, and HF Harlow, until 1964.  Then, after spending a year on a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship in Sydney, Australia with Dr. PO Bishop, he joined MSU in 1965.


Jack's lab at MSU was a training ground for many students that went on to distinguished careers of their own in neuroscience. He stimulated individual exploration by encouraging free inquiry and saw the potential in everyone. He gave of himself to us all through his generosity. Jack continued to be a productive research scientist until the end.


A leading teacher in the evolution of vertebrate neuroanatomy, his recent assignments were to Medical Gross Anatomy, Medical Neuroscience, Advanced Neuroanatomy, Systems Neuroscience, and Vertebrate Neural Systems.  His academic fortitude, wit, and kindness anchored and propelled the education of legions of students.


John “Jack” Johnson passed away on September 9th, 2017, yet still continues to challenge minds, inspire hearts, and buoy souls in appreciation of the world in its entirety.  We hope you will bring memories and stories to share together. 



"You never have time. You either make time or take time." - John I. Johnson


Light refreshments will be provided following the service. If you would like to join Dr. John Morris and other MSU Neuroscience Alumni for dinner following the service please contact him directly at john.morris@grace-medical.org.


Memorial Donation Suggestions:


To make a memorial contribution to the Division of Human Anatomy Anatomical Gift Fund, please send a check payable to Michigan State University to the address below:

Development Fund
Michigan State University
300 Spartan Way
East Lansing, MI 48824-1005

Please designate the Anatomical Gift Fund as recipient and include Dr. Johnson’s name as the person in whose memory the contribution is being made.