Staff Spotlight: Dr. Lee Johnston

Job title: Professor of Animal Science

Number of years employed by the WCROC: 34

Prior to working at the WCROC:

  • Grew up on a 9th generation dairy farm in western Pennsylvania.
  • Attended Penn State University where I worked at the university's swine unit. Earned a B.S. in Animal Production in 1982.
  • Worked as an Assistant Manager of Swine Research Unit at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX while studying for a M.S. degree in Swine Nutrition. Completed M.S. in 1984.
  • While studying at Michigan State University, I served as Assistant State Swine Extension Specialist. Earned PhD in Swine Nutrition and Management in 1988.
  • I began my position at WCROC as Assistant Professor on Nov. 15, 1988; achieved rank of full professor in 1999.

Significant work accomplishments: Every one of my past graduate students are actively employed in the swine industry. There were 11 students in total that I served as the primary advisor. Another 18 for which I was a secondary advisor also work in the swine industry domestically or internationally.

Favorite part about working at the WCROC? Mentoring students in their chosen scientific careers. Our students begin their graduate studies with great enthusiasm and big ideas. I enjoy helping them develop as scientists and livestock industry professionals as they move toward graduation. My relationship with those students usually continues throughout their careers.

I also enjoy working on applied swine production research projects to help pork producers learn what does and does not work to improve their production systems.

What do you hope will be your lasting legacy at the WCROC? There have been 10 directors of the research center since its inception in 1910 (Mike Reese is the 11th). Only two of those directors served longer than me. During my 12½ year tenure as director, we all worked hard to elevate the reputation and recognition of the WCROC as a center of high quality applied agricultural research. I think we did that. I hope this will be my legacy.

How do you like to spend you time when not at work? Judy and I spend a lot of time managing our small Dorset sheep flock. In 2023, we will produce our 31st lamb crop. I enjoy downhill skiing and hunting pheasants and deer. Spending time with our four grandsons (and their parents) is consuming more of time as they transition from the "baby stage" into little people. This is getting to be quite enjoyable!