Karen Johnson

  • Professor in Environmental Engineering - Durham University

Research interests

Karen Johnson is Professor in Environmental Engineering at Durham’s Department of Engineering, with a passion for soil. She has a track record of publishing both in top Engineering journals such as Environmental Science and Technology and in scientific journals on atomistic level environmental geochemistry in top science journals such as Nature Comms.

Johnson has expertise in carbon stabilization in soil minerals and has published on the significance an prevalence of Mn(III) in peaty soils as well as the use of MnOx minerals in land remediation. Johnson marries science with engineering to make sure her science has impact and works closely with the Parliamentary Sustainable Soils Alliance on soil health.She was a key figure in getting the UK Government’s Environmental Audit Committee’s Inquiry into Soil Health launched and she presented evidence on urban soil, the links between contaminated land and public health and the role engineers have to play in leading the way in urban soil security.

She has hosted International workshops on carbon stabilisation in soils and national workshops about raising the profile of soil (eg at Westminster, 2014, Westminster 2015). Johnson has extensive industrial and academic expertise in field work relating to soil improvement technologies for rebuilding soil health.

She also has extensive experience of public engagement and has worked with schools and stakeholders to raise awareness of soil in the public arena, most recently through the use of animations (Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience). 

  1. Johnson, K.L (2016). Engage Engineers in Soil Management. Nature 532(7597): 37;
  2. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvaud/180/180.pdf
  3. Johnson, K.L. et al (2015) Towards a mechanistic understanding of carbon stabilisation in manganese oxides. Nature Communications, July 2015;
  4. McCann, C.M, Gray, N.D., Tourney, J., Davenport, R.J., Wade, M., Finlay, N.C., Hudson-Edwards, K.A. & Johnson, K.L. (2015). Remediation of a historically Pb contaminated soil using a model natural Mn oxide waste. Chemosphere 138: 211; 5. Bambra C., Robertson S., Kasim A., Smith J., Cairns-Nagi J.M., Copeland A., Finlay N., Johnson K.L. (2014) Healthy land? An examination of the area-level association between brownfield land and morbidity and mortality in England. Environment and Planning A, 46(2) 433 – 454.