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Meet FNR Outstanding Sophomore Allie Johnson

Each year, FNR recognizes a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior outstanding student. The Outstanding Student awards are given to the most outstanding student in each class as demonstrated by educational accomplishment, research, community service, student organization involvement and leadership, and involvement at the department, college, or university level.

Meet Outstanding Sophomore - Allie Johnson

  • Hometown: Brownsburg, Indiana
  • Major: Wildlife; Minor: Statistics

Alyssa “Allie” Johnson is a student in the John Martinson Purdue Honors College, where she believesAllie Johnson with a salamander the teamwork, leadership and communication skills she has developed, in addition to the interdisciplinary coursework, helps prepare her to communicate her research to government agencies, natural resource managers, policy makers and other wildlife biologists.

Johnson is involved with the Purdue Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society and has served as the Herps Working Group Leader for the 2022-23 school year. She served as freshman representative for the FNR Student Council and is currently the STUCO Vice President. In the fall of 2022, Johnson joined the FNR Ambassador team, which helps prospective and incoming students with their college application, enrollment and major selection.

Johnson has been involved in several community and volunteer activities at Purdue. She was a chronic wasting disease sampling volunteer for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in November 2022. She volunteered at the FNR Job Fair in Spring 2022. Johnson has participated in invasive species removal days with The Wildlife Society the past two years. During the fall 2022 semester, she created and led an FNR study group with the goal of helping her peers succeed by learning new study techniques and participating in weekly group study sessions for Dendrology and Ecology and Systematics of Fishes, Amphibians and Reptiles.

“This award means beyond what I can describe in words,” Johnson said. “I’ve truly found my passion studying and researching wildlife here at Purdue, so to me, this award recognizes the hard work I’ve put into my academics here. This award shows that my dedication to academic excellence and career experience is not going unnoticed, and for that I am so grateful. Going into college, I was worried that I wouldn’t succeed academically and that I would let my introverted nature get in the way of my involvement in extracurricular activities. In that way, this award shows that I didn’t let those anxieties get the best of me, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without the amazing group of friends, family, and professors supporting me.”Allie Johnson talking about herpetology at the 2023 Community Nature Day.

Outside of FNR, Johnson is also a member of the Purdue Climbing Club and the Undergraduate Research Society of Purdue.

Johnson has gained a plethora of hands-on experience through volunteer and paid positions at Purdue and off campus.

In high school, she was a ZooTeen Naturalist at the Indianapolis Zoo, through which she increased guest interaction and understanding of the animals they were visiting.

During the 2021-22 academic year, Johnson was a field assistant for genetic material collection and metric data collection for the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center’s walnut project. She collected leaves and terminal buds from black walnut trees at Lugar Farms and Martell Forest, while working with three other undergraduate students, Dr. Keith Woeste and Jim Warren from the U.S. Forest Service.

Johnson has been a part of the Hoverman Aquatic Community Ecology Lab since the fall of 2021. As an undergraduate research assistant for the lab, Johnson performs animal husbandry, animal collections in the field, chemical handling, dissection, microscopy, specimen processing and chemical waste management, while working on two chronic PFAS exposure studies and an evolved tolerance study. She also hasAllie Johnson plants a tree designed an experiment and written a research proposal, which aimed to assess the biological significance of current methodology for parasite exposures by comparing standard methods to a more ecologically accurate methodology she designed.

“I first met Allie in my Nature of Wild Things learning community course and she immediately stood out from the rest of her peers with her active engagement with the course activities, curiosity with nature, and passion for science,” Dr. Jason Hoverman said. “It was especially noteworthy to me that Allie had a keen interest in a research career, which is extremely rare in first-year students. Given her high level of performance in my research group, I encouraged Allie to conduct an independent research project last summer based on her research interests. Allie noticed a key limitation of our previous work and developed a research project to test whether the frequency of trematode exposures and the number of trematodes per exposure impacted infection risk following PFAS exposure.  Although Allie was just starting her research career, these observations made it clear to me that she was operating at the level of a graduate student. Her research addresses a key gap in our understanding of how PFAS alters disease risk in wildlife and will be a valuable contribution to the scientific literature.  I have no doubt that her future work will continue to push the frontier of toxicology.”

Last fall, Johnson was awarded a Purdue CATE Research Grant for her proposal assessing the methodology of parasite exposure in amphibian ecotoxicology studies. She is currently processing her specimens and will run statistical analyses before writing a manuscript and presenting a poser at Purdue’s spring poster competition.

In Spring 2023, Johnson is serving as a teaching assistant for FNR 25250 lab: Ecology and Systematics ofAllie Johnson holds a bluejay Mammals and Birds.

Academically, Johnson has received semester honors for her academics each session since beginning at Purdue in Summer 2021. In Spring 2022, Johnson was inducted in the Alpha Lambda Delta Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, which promotes hard work and dedication in and out of the classroom and requires students to have at least a 3.5 GPA during their first freshman semester.

During her time at Purdue, Johnson has received the Glenn R. Alison Scholarship, the Rex Hall Memorial Scholarship, an FNR Scholarship, the Purdue Presidential Scholarship and the Hendricks County Community Foundation Scholarship.

“Being named one of FNR’s outstanding students of the year and the representative from my class makes me feel like I’ve finally found my belonging,” Johnson said. “The FNR Department is more than a place of study for me, it’s home. I’m grateful beyond words for the opportunities, friends, and professors in this department that have continually supported me in my academic and professional endeavors. I think the tight-knit environment of FNR is so unique and has really fostered my growth and development. Without the environment of the department and those within it, I don’t think I would’ve been able to succeed in the way I have thus far. This honor is testament to that, and I will continue to strive to best represent FNR and all of the amazing, brilliant people who also call this department home.”

The 2022-23 FNR Student of the Year award honorees are:

  • Outstanding Freshman: Alex Early
  • Outstanding Sophomore: Allie Johnson

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