Nels G. Johnson

Postdoctoral Research Associate
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)

I am a statistical ecologist and postdoctoral research associate at NIMBioS. I hope you'll find something here of use to you. I am in the process of updating my website for NIMBioS, so please check back every now and then. Currently, you can find my biosketch, a brief description of my research, some links I think are cool, and my contact information. For information about me, you can also take a look at a Q and A I did for NIMBioS, my CV or read NIMBioS's summary of me.


  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, Statistics, Ph.D, 2012.
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, Statistics, M.S., 2008.
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, Mathematics, B.S., 2003.


  • National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, Knoxville, TN, Statistical Ecology, Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2015--.
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, Biology, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013--2015.

Research Interests:

  • Statistics: compartmentalized systems, latent variable models, nonparametric Bayes, statistical collaboration.
  • Ecology: statistical ecology, microbial ecology, communities, biodiversity, function, -omics.

Publication info

  • Nels's Google Scholar page
  • A recent publication: Pepin, K. M.; Leach, C. B.; Marques-Toledo, C.; Laass, K. H.; Paixao, K. S.; Luis, A. D.; Hayman, D. T.; Johnson, N. G.; Buhnerkempe, M. G.; Carver, S. & others, "Utility of mosquito surveillance data for spatial prioritization of vector control against dengue viruses in three Brazilian cities," Parasites & Vectors, BioMed Central Ltd, 2015, 8, 98.

Professional Memberships:

American Statistical Association, Ecological Society of America, International Society for Bayesian Analysis.

For more, please see my CV

Broadly, my current research focuses on hierarchical Bayesian models for compartmentalized systems and, a special case of this area, systems with unobserved or mis-measured data. Within those areas, I work to improve connections to ecological theory by developing or applying new tools which better maintain ecological interpretability. Ecologically, I am particularly interested in distributions of communities, biodiversity, and the functional impact of communities on ecosystems.

Recently, my work has been motivated by scientific questions requiring, and problems arising from, the analysis of genetic sequencing data from microbial communities and large jointly distributed species data. My proposed program shifts the focus of this work to include more novel model development. Focus of model development is in two broad categories: 1.) addressing frequent challenges with community data, such as its size and sparsity, and the species redundancy when describing ecosystem processes, and 2.) Improved understanding of communities and our theories of biodiversity.

Nels (dot) Johnson (at) nimbios (dot) org

109B Philander P. Claxton Education Building
1122 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-3410
Office Phone: 865-974-4943