Francis E. Johnston is a biological anthropologist and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He received the BA and MSc degrees in Anthropology from the University of Kentucky and the PhD, also in Anthropology, from the University of Pennsylvania. He was Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Penn from 1962-68 (where he was granted academic tenure), Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin from 1968-71, and Professor at Temple University from 1971-73. Since then he has been at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Chair of the Department of Anthropology from 1982-94.
Johnston has been an Overseas Fellow of Churchill College, University of Cambridge (1994-95 and 2000). He has been a postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Child Health, University of London (1966-67, 1988-89) and the Institute of Cancer Research, Philadelphia (1967-68), Visiting Fellow of the Department of Anthropology, University College, London, (1988-89) and Visiting Professor of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town (1989).
Johnston's research specialization is in the growth and development of children, especially in relation to nutritional status and health. He has worked extensively throughout Latin America, especially Guatemala (since 1966) but also in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Cuba. He has also been involved in the study of the health effects of modernization in Papua New Guinea. In 1982 he was the Gallagher Lecturer of the Society For Adolescent Medicine and in 1986 he received the award as author of the best article appearing that year in the Journal of Adolescent Medicine.
Since 1990, Johnston has been active in academically-based community service initiatives in West Philadelphia. He founded and directs the Urban Nutrition Initiative. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania Center For Community Partnerships as well as co-Chair of its Faculty Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the U. of Pennsylvania Medical School Council on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Council’s Special Task Force on improving the health status of the West Philadelphia community.
Johnston is a past-President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (1983-85) and has been Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1977-83), Human Biology (1987-88), and Founding Editor of the American Journal of Human Biology (1988-90). As Editor of the AJPA, he received in 1982 the award of the American Society of Scientific Publishers for editing the best issue of a scientific journal published that year in the USA. He has served as Consultant to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, and the Pan American Health Organization. In 1998 he received Honorable Mention for the Ernest A. Lynton Award for Faculty Professional Service, given by the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. In April, 2003, Johnston received the Charles Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Johnston has taught extensively in both undergraduate and graduate curricula. He has been supervised over 20 students who received their PhD's. He is married and has three children. He served as a Naval Aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps.