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Johnson, Vivian A. (Vivian Annabelle), 1912-



  • Existence: July 1, 1912 - June 30, 1985

Biographical Information

Vivian Annabelle Johnson was born in Portland, Oregon to Albert and Ada Johnson in 1912. She developed an interest in Math and Chemistry in High School, and earned her B.A. in Physics from Reed College in 1932. At Reed, she studied with Professor Knowlton, who helped her secure a teaching assistantship at Purdue under Dr. Lark-Horovitz. Johnson's Master's research was completed under the supervision of Professor Akeley and was completed in 1934. For her Ph.D., she worked with Dr. Norheim and completed her dissertation research, the Effect of Valence Electrons on the Electron Cloud Distribution, in 1937. Her early research contributed to the newly developing firls of solid state physics.

After completing her doctorate, Johnson remained on the faculty of the physics department at Purdue, where she continued to specialize in theoretical solid state physics. She was named the Assistant Department Head in 1973. Over the course of her career, Johnson contributed to and published research on the transport propoerties of semi-conductors. She also published a biography of her mentor Karl Lark-Horovitz in 1969 (Karl Lark-Horovitz, Pioneer in Solid State Physics). In addition to her contributions at Purdue, Johnson was a Visiting Lecturerof the American Association of Physics Teacher within the NSF program to cultivate interest in physics.

Johnson was awarded a Standard Oil Foundation Teaching Award in 1973, and a Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion Award in 1979. She was a member of several honoroaries and service organizations: Sigma Xi, Sigma Pi Sigma, Indiana Academy of Sciences, Phi Beta Kappa, and the American Association of UNiversity Professors.


Indiana Authors and Their Books: Vivian Annabelle Johnson. Indiana University. Accessed September 2, 2020.;;toc.depth=1;;brand=ia-books;doc.view=0;query=&hit.rank=


Oral History Interview with Paul Henriksen. American Institute of Physics. July 13, 1981. Accessed September 2, 2020.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Vivian A. Johnson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 00000VAJ
Scope and Contents Scientific papers, notes, correspondence and lectures of physicist Vivian Johnson, Purdue faculty member. Some of the subjects covered in the papers include electrons in crystals, radiation, electric quantum theory, structure of metals, the polaron, and multicontact theory. Please see PDF Finding Aid for collection inventory.
Dates: 1937 - 1985