Faculty News

New Faculty

Robert JohnsonRobert Johnson

Robert Johnson was born in Delta, Utah, and grew up in American Fork, Utah. After serving a mission in the Netherlands, he enrolled at Brigham Young University in 1986 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in botany in 1991. He went on to receive a master’s degree in plant ecology in 1993 and a Ph.D. in plant and wildlife sciences in 2008, both from BYU. His legacy at BYU continues now as a new associate professor of biology in the College of Life Sciences.


Considering himself a people pleaser, Johnson’s greatest work is in making a happy home with his wife, Jeanne, and their four children. With only one son and three daughters, their house is ruled by women, a fact that has Johnson shopping more than he might prefer.

Currently, Johnson’s research is focused on plant taxonomy as well as plant and insect interactions. He is working on a project involving seed predation in Asteraceae by tephritid fruit flies.

Nathan E. LewisNathan E. Lewis

Nathan Lewis came to Brigham Young University as an undergraduate in 1998. He left for an LDS mission to Spain from 1999 to 2001, and also took advantage of various academic opportunities, including internships in Washington D.C. and Seattle and a study abroad in Jerusalem. He studied biochemistry and obtained a bachelor’s degree from BYU in 2006. Lewis continued his education at University of California San Diego where he received his Ph.D. in bioengineering in 2012.

Lewis completed his post-doctorate position at Harvard Medical School and is now in an assistant professorship position here at BYU in the biology department. Some of his current research interests include computational and systems biology and the analysis of next-generation sequencing data.

He met his wife, Maria, in a BYU student ward. They married in July 2003 and have two daughters, Anabelle and Livya. Both girls are clamoring for a puppy and, now that Lewis has a “real” job, there is really no way he can say “no.”


Mel Olson

Mel Olson

Mel J. Olson began his Brigham Young University experience as a highly touted football recruit from Wyoming. After forty-eight years as a player, coach, and teacher at BYU, Olson retired on January 1, 2013. Olson came to BYU in 1963 and played on the football team through the 1969 season. In 1970, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and was immediately hired as an assistant football coach. During the next twenty years, Olson helped coach teams that won the 1984 national championship, played fifteen bowl games, and earned thirteen WAC championships. And he did it all while earning both a master’s (1973) and doctorate (1980) degree from BYU in physical education.

After accepting a faculty position in 1990, Olson helped create a coaching minor at BYU based on his dissertation topic, “The Construction and Evaluation of a Coaching Education Curriculum.” This was one of the first university programs in the nation to be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE).

As a dedicated teacher and administrator, Olson served as the director of the newly founded Physical Education/Teacher Education (PETE) program as well as Assistant Department Chair for the Department of Exercise Sciences.

Through the course of his career, Olson was active in various professional organizations, working on the coaches’ council for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) where he served as a board member and president for the Utah chapter.

His wife, Susan, and their five children have always supported Olson’s impressive career. Through years of hard work, dedication, and immeasurable contributions, Olson has left an indelible mark on the university and its coaching pedagogy.