Cliff Johnston

Cliff Johnston

Professor of Agronomy
765.496.2926 (fax)

Area of Expertise

Soil Chemistry

Curriculum Vitae


B.Sc. University of California, Riverside (1979) Chemistry

Ph.D.  University of California, Riverside (1983) Soil and Environmental Science (Advisor: Garrison Sposito)

Postdoctoral Fellow. (1983 - 1985)  Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Center for Nonlinear Studies and the Isotope and Nuclear Chemistry Division (Advisor: Basil Swanson and Irving Bigio)


Professional Positions

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Postdoctoral Fellow (1983 – 1985)

University of Florida, Soil and Water Science Dept. Asst.-Assoc Professor (1985 – 1993)

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sabbatical Fellow (1991)

Katholieke Universitiet Leuven, Belgium, Sabbatical (1992 and 2002)

Purdue University, Department of Agronomy, Assoc. Professor - Professor (1993 – present)

Purdue University, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (2016 – present)


Membership in Academic, Professional and Scholarly Societies

American Chemical Society

Clay Minerals Society

Soil Science Society of America


Awards /  Honors


2018 Brindley Lecturer, The Clay Minerals Society


Named the Andrew Main 2015 Lecturer. University of Alberta, Canada


Awarded Fulbright Fellowship – Brazil.


Member of Editorial Board for Geochemical Transactions


Member of the Executive Committee for Elements – An international magazine of mineralogy, geochemistry, and petrology


President of The Clay Minerals Society


Named the George Brown Lecturer – 2004 Clay Minerals Groups of the Mineralogical Society (London)


Election to Fellow, Soil Science Society of America

  • Recipient of the Marion L. and Chrystie M. Jackson Mid-Career Soil Science Award


Curator of the Source Clays Repository


ESCOP Leadership Development Program Fellow (Class 10)


Recipient of the Marion L. and Chrystie M. Jackson Mid-Career Award of The Clay Minerals Society


Elected to Council - Councilor for the Clay Minerals Society (1997 – 2000)



Publication Summary

Citation metrics

Google Scholar: Citations 9640, h-index 52, since 2016 h-index of 31                   
Web of Science Citation Report (as of June, 2021) h-index 42


Dr. Johnston has published about 200 refereed journal articles, invited reviews, refereed book chapters and has recently edited a book on the surface chemistry of clay minerals. He is a physical chemist who has applied advanced spectroscopic, structural and thermal methods to study of applied problems in soil and water science.  His areas of specialization include stabilization of soil organic matter, fate and transport of anthropogenic compounds in the environment, mineral-water and mineral-organic interactions, and developing new methods to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from soils.  He has established research collaborations around the world.  He has built a highly-successful\ collaboration with researchers at Michigan State University with approximately 40 publications and funded by NIH (NIEHS Superfund) and USDA.  He regularly teaches the undergraduate introductory soils class (AGRY 255) in partnership with other faculty, and graduate level course in soil chemistry (AGRY 540), soil biogeochemistry (EAPS 518).  In the past, he has taught environmental science (NRES 290), methods of greenhouse gas emissions (AGRY 598) and climate change in Africa. He has graduated 9 PhD students and 5 MSc students, hosted many visiting scholars and has supervised about 7 postdoctoral scholars.