Faculty in Focus: Meet professor Anna Johnson

Numerous times when I have told another student that I am taking Developmental Psychology, they smile with wide eyes and say, “Is that with Anna Johnson?” Even though she is a psychology professor, she is known by students of many different majors across campus.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Anna John- son ’08 is a St. Olaf graduate. She entered St. Olaf intent on majoring in biology, as she was interested in pediat- rics. However, she ended up double majoring in biology and psychology with a concentration in neuroscience.

During one of the summers while she was still a student at St. Olaf, she worked in a developmental psychology lab at the University of Minnesota, focusing on the develop- ment of stress responses in kids and adolescents. This ex- perience motivated her to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota. She taught there as a graduate student, which ignited her passion for instruction. From there, she spent a short time at Macalester College, and now she is in her second year teaching at St. Olaf.

Johnson teaches biopsychology, developmental psy- chology and a seminar about stress and development.

“I just love the students and the energy they bring to the classroom,” Johnson said. “You can tell they are ex- cited to be there, and for that they make class an exciting place.”

Johnson also says that she strives to help students find topics they are passionate about, especially outside the classroom.

“I can see that St. Olaf students are just looking for things to be excited about,” she said, “and that makes me really happy.”

When Johnson isn’t teaching, she enjoys yoga, run- ning around lakes in Minneapolis with her dog, spending time in northern Minnesota and baking. Anyone who has been to Johnson’s office knows she is approachable. For example, we ended up talking about our love for working with kids.

Her research focuses on the development of self-con- trol in children and adolescents. Recently, she worked on a study in which she teamed up with a yoga instructor to see the effect of different yoga exercises on preschool- ers. She was looking for the childrens’ ability to manage thoughts, emotions and behavior.

“I just really love the intersection between the mind and body,” she said.