Pieter Johnson


Committee for Research and Exploration Grantee

Birthplace: California

Current City: Boulder, Colorado

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Marine biologist

How did you get started in your field of work?

I began working in biology early on, initially in marine systems as a scuba diver and subtidal researcher. While in college, I worked abroad in Australia as a research diver and rainforest researcher, which led me toward working in freshwater systems as well as marine. One thing that struck me was the growing trend of invasive species and emerging diseases, not just in relation to humans but in wildlife as well, leading me on my current path.

What inspires you to dedicate your life to biology?

Biology is a fascinating quest to discover answers about the how and the why underlying the world around us. To me there is no greater pursuit that offers the same degree of excitement and intellectual satisfaction. Scientists are limited only by their imaginations.

What's a normal day like for you?

There is no such thing!

Do you have a hero?

Charles Darwin

What has been your favorite experience in the field? The most challenging?

Learning new systems—this requires a huge amount of effort to develop an understanding (and intuition) about which interactions are important, but ultimately this keeps things fresh and interesting. I am always excited to visit a new place and find out what's there.

What are your other passions?

Rock climbing, snowboarding, and trying to be a good dad and husband

What do you do in your free time?

I don't remember having any.

If you could have people do one thing to help conservation, what would it be?

To me, the most important thing people can do is to get their kids excited about biology. Take them to the ocean, the forests, or the jungle and instill in them a lifelong passion for appreciating and understanding the natural world around them.


In Their Words

Biology is a fascinating quest to discover answers about the how and the why underlying the world around us.

—Pieter Johnson


  • Photo: A frog with a missing left hind leg

    Deformed Frogs

    See images by Pieter Johnson of malformed frogs. Scientists like Dr. Johnson are trying to learn more about the causes of these abnormalities.


Our Explorers in Action

See Photos »

Meet All Our Explorers

  • NationalGeographic_1289095-flag.jpg

    Explorers A-Z

    At the heart of our explorers program is the quest for knowledge through exploration and the people who make it possible.

  • Photo: Michael Lombardi diving

    Explorers by Category

    Browse our different areas of exploration and discover the fascinating people behind the projects.