Vanessa Johnson, PhD
Nova Southeastern University, Florida
Research Specialist and Associate Professor, Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy
Vanessa Johnson is a research specialist and associate professor in the Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy. Dr. Johnson earned her master’s in human environmental sciences at Oklahoma State University, emphasizing human development and family science with a focus on assessment and early diagnosis of FMR1 gene changes. Her dissertation work explored the development of a Biopsychosocial Screening Inventory for Fragile X (BIPSSI-FX).
Dr. Johnson completed postdoctoral training at the University of Iowa, where she studied incidental findings associated with genetic testing. She collaborated with an Iowa Testing Center psychometrician to further validate the BIPSSI-FX. Dr. Johnson has researched Fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorders for the past 20 years. FMR1 gene changes provide an excellent paradigm for studying the multi-systemic complexity of neuropsychiatric disorders across the lifespan. Her beginning FXS-associated research was met with a commonly experienced challenge of facilitating equitable representation of diverse racial and ethnic groups in genomic research. This persistent gap consequently fueled a focus of her program of research, empowering parents as “frontline screeners” to collaborate with healthcare professionals and community leaders to facilitate earlier diagnosis and treatment of genetic developmental disabilities.
Dr. Johnson chairs the Association of Black Faculty, Inc., research committee. She also regularly serves as chair or member of CDC Scientific Review Panels for Fragile X syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders. In addition, she is the founder of EAGLES View, Inc., a community environment and engagement organization providing services for high school students and adults with intellectual, developmental, behavioral, or cognitive challenges.
Lastly, Dr. Johnson’s passionate interest in human development and behavior and a genuine belief in the necessity of empowering underserved and vulnerable community members for positive health outcomes motivate her to use an integrative, interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in private and public universities for over 31 years.
Dr. Johnson serves on dissertation and capstone committees. She also teaches research and evidence-based practice courses and grant-writing courses.