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Odis Johnson Jr.

Odis Johnson Jr., PhD, is a Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Education, Director of the NSF Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational, and Mixed Methodologies, and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity at Washington University in St. Louis. He also is a Faculty Scholar at the Institute of Public Health, affiliated faculty at the Brown School, both at Washington University. Prior to his appointments at Washington University, Dr. Johnson chaired the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland. Dr. Johnson completed his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, and a Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Johnson’s civic and intellectual engagements extend from a realization that his own childhood experiences in struggling inner-city neighborhoods and their institutions are shared by far too many people of color. The scholarship that has emerged from this awareness has featured the complicating intersections of residential stratification, the relative status of African Americans, and social policy (educational, housing, or policing policies), not only to expand knowledge, but in hopes of increasing the possibilities of evidenced-based social reform. His work on these topics has earned him a National Academies/Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (the first awarded to an education scholar in the history of the interdisciplinary competition), the 2013 Outstanding Review of Research Award from the American Educational Research Association, and the 2015 Outstanding Author Contribution Award in the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence. Dr. Johnson’s research has appeared in highly-selective scientific journals, including the Review of Educational Research, Social Science and Medicine, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Research. Research grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Spencer Foundation have funded much of this work, and positioned Dr. Johnson as a leader within national conversations and efforts related to the advancement of quantitative and computational science in federal research.

He currently is the principal investigator of the Fatal Interactions with Police Study (FIPS) which has generated a national data file of police homicides, and three NSF-funded studies that examine how strategies to maintain law and order in neighborhoods and schools impact the representation of race-gender groups within the School-to-Prison and STEM pipelines. Dr. Johnson’s work and ideas about social change have been featured in prominent media outlets, including the Oprah Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, The Washington Post, MSNBC, NPR, Teen Vogue, The Associated Press, Vox, The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, SiriusXM, and a variety of international and local news outlets. .

He is particularly interested in how power and difference are reproduced, especially in bodily capacities, and the ways in which sociotechnical systems of quantification are working on, with, and in the body to produce racialized demarcations of which bodily capacities to regenerate and which to debilitate. He is also deeply interested in theoretical and methodological interventions toward developing alternative modes of inquiry and practices of quantification that might enable the potentialities of reconstituting sociopolitical relations and the movement and flow of social life.

He is the author of Inheriting Possibility: Social Reproduction & Quantification in Education (2017, University of Minnesota Press), which received the 2018 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association. He also co-guest edited “Alternative Ontologies of Number: Rethinking the Quantitative in Computational Culture” (2016, Cultural Studies-Critical Methodologies) and “The computational turn in education research: Critical and creative perspectives on the digital data deluge” (2017, Research in Education).