Dr. Mark Johnson serves as a prime example of how hard work, initiative and dedication to duty can eventually cause one to reap huge dividends.

He started working for the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency twenty years ago as a post graduate intern following successful completion of his graduate degree from the University of Delaware. He completed his doctoral degree in environmental toxicology at the Veterinary School at Virginia Tech while working as an intern and then as a civilian with the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine.

After many years of study and experience, and filling positions of increasing responsibility, Johnson serves as the toxicology portfolio director for the Army Institute of Public Health.

In this capacity, Johnson is responsible for serving as the operational and technical arm for the Army Surgeon General and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for toxicological matters. He is also responsible for serving as the technical authority on toxicology and the public health toxicology program worldwide.

Because of his contributions to the field of toxicology and his productivity while serving as a board member, Johnson was also recently elected to serve as president of the American Board of Toxicology. He has been a member of the ABT Board of Directors since 2012 and certified as a Diplomate of the ABT since 2002. He serves on the board with others from industry, government, academia and other non-governmental organizations.

Founded in 1979, the purpose of the ABT is:

• to encourage the study of the science of toxicology;
• to stimulate its advancement by establishing standards for professional practice,
• to prepare and administer procedures including tests for the implementation of such standards, and
• to confer recognition by certificates or otherwise upon those members of the profession who, measured against such standards, demonstrate competence.

Members of the ABT must possess certain credentials, have and maintain experience working in the field of toxicology and pass a rigorous exam to be certified by the group.

Although his term as ABT president only began in April, Johnson already has plans for helping the ABT grow.

"We want to establish a code of ethics for our professionals, and also expand our membership to Europe, Korea, India and Africa," said Johnson.

An advocate for the use of technology, he is also interested in working to develop a smart phone application to help potential members study for the certification exam.

Those individuals who work with Johnson at the AIPH are not surprised that the ABT elected him to a leadership role.

"We are delighted that Mark will play a critical role in helping to establish professional standards for toxicologists in today's global environment," said John Resta, director of the AIPH. "His election represents an ongoing commitment to pursue continual professional learning and growth. Professional certification and licensure is a foundation of the AIPH's high-reliability organizational strategy."

Johnson credits his experience at the AIPH for helping him to become the leader that he is today.

"I am fortunate to work with highly-trained, incredibly smart people, who help us perform our mission of promoting health and preventing disease, injury and disability in our Soldiers, their families, retirees and Army civilians," said Johnson.

Although his dual roles at the AIPH and the American Board of Toxicology keep him busy, Johnson also finds time to pursue volunteer assignments in his local community.

He recently served as the president of the Maryland Ornithological Society, and is currently an associate editor of Maryland Birdlife, a technical journal dedicated to advances in avian science in the Mid-Atlantic region. He also serves as a member of the Eden Mill Nature Center, and plays the guitar for his local church.

He is married, and the father of two college students who are pursuing careers in physics and mathematics.

Johnson said a love for learning is a value passed down from generation to generation in his family. He credits his mother for motivating him to be a scientist.

"My mother was certainly a role model for me," said Johnson. "From a young age, she encouraged me to be a critical thinker, and that skill has helped me in my Army career."