Paul C. Johnson

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
President, Colorado School of Mines

paul-johnson Paul C. JohnsonDr. Johnson’s expertise is in the field of fate and transport of contaminants in the environment, with emphasis on assessing the risks of and managing contaminated soil and groundwater sites. With respect to the latter, he is known for his lab- and field-scale demonstrations, models, and analyses related to the design, monitoring, optimization, and validation of some of the most frequently used in situ remediation technologies (e.g., soil vapor extraction, in situ soil heating, in situ air sparging, groundwater and vapor aerobic biobarriers). With respect to risk-based decision-making, he was the lead author of the risk-based corrective action guidance (ASTM RBCA) that is the basis for many cleanup programs. His work focused on modeling and assessing potential impacts associated with the vapor intrusion exposures pathway led to the Johnson and Ettinger analytical and Abreu and Johnson numerical vapor intrusion models used by the US Environmental Protection Agency. His research group has been recognized for its contributions to both risk assessment and remediation through the 2011 and 2017 Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Project of the Year Awards.

Dr. Johnson has also provided significant service to the field, having been the editor for the National Ground Water Association’s journal, Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation from 2003 through 2011, and a member of the National Research Council Committee on Future Options of the Nation’s Subsurface Remediation Effort.

Dr. Johnson’s career reflects a strong passion for innovation, education and student success. He began his career at Shell Development in Houston, developing novel approaches for managing and restoring contaminated soil and groundwater sites. He then joined the faculty at Arizona State University to continue this work and share his experiences with students. He was attracted to the presidency at Colorado School of Mines because of its focused mission, long history of rich industry partnerships, use-inspired research programs, reputation for producing outstanding graduates and strong alumni affinity.


Guggenheim Hall, Third Floor
President’s Office website


  • Princeton University, PhD and MA in Chemical Engineering
  • University of California, Davis, BS in Chemical Engineering

Awards and Honors

  • In recognition of his technical and professional service contributions to the profession, Dr. Johnson received the AEHS Academic Career Recognition Award in 2006, the National Groundwater Association Keith E. Anderson Award in 2011, the Lifetime Award in Remediation sponsored by Brown and Caldwell in 2014, and other awards from the USEPA, the White House and federal funding agencies and professional societies. 

  • In recognition of his contributions to engineering education, Johnson was named Outstanding Educator of the Year by the Arizona Professional Engineers Society in 2011, he received the Arizona Water Association Nathan Burbank Environmental Educator of the Year Award in 2014, and was selected recipient of the Water Environment Federation Fair Distinguished Engineering Educator Medal in 2015.

Selected Publications

  • Burris, D.R., P.C. Johnson, R.E. Hinchee, and P.R. Dahlen. 2018. 1,4-Dioxane Soil Remediation Using Enhanced Soil Vapor Extraction (XSVE): II. Modeling. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, 38(2). 49-56.

  • Cavanagh, B.A., S.T. Wilson, P.C. Johnson, and E.J. Daniels. 2017. Interface Treatment of Petroleum Hydrocarbon-Impacted Lower Permeability Layers by Activated Sodium Persulfate to Reduce Emissions to Groundwater. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation. 37 (4). 34- 42.

  • Guo, Y., C. Holton, H. Luo, P. Dahlen, K. Gorder, E. Dettenmaier, and P.C. Johnson. 2015. Identification of Alternative Vapor Intrusion Pathways Using Controlled Pressure Testing, Soil Gas Monitoring, and Screening Model Calculations. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49 (22), 13472–13482.

  • Holton, C., Y. Guo, H. Luo, P. Dahlen, K. Gorder, E. Dettenmaier, and P.C. Johnson. 2015. Long-term Evaluation of the Controlled Pressure Method for the Assessment of the Vapor Intrusion Pathway. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49 (4), 2091–2098.

  • Ekre, R., P.C. Johnson, B. Rittmann, and R. Krajmalnik-Brown. 2014. Method for Assessing Source Zone Natural Depletion at Chlorinated Aliphatic Spill Sites. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation.  doi: 10.1111/gwmr.12049.

  • Clifton, L.M., P. Dahlen, and P.C. Johnson. 2014. Effect of Dissolved Oxygen Manipulation on Diffusive Emissions from NAPL-Impacted Low Permeability Soil Layers. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48, 5127−5135.

  • Holton, C., H. Luo, P. Dahlen, K. Gorder, E. Dettenmaier, and P.C. Johnson.  2013.  Temporal Variability of Indoor Air Concentrations under Natural Conditions in a House Overlying a Dilute Chlorinated Solvent Groundwater Plume.  Environ. Sci. Technol. 47 (23), pp 13347–13354.

  • Luo, H., P.R. Dahlen, P.C. Johnson, T.R. Peargin.  2013. Proof-of-Concept Study of an Aerobic Vapor Migration Barrier Beneath a Building at a Petroleum Hydrocarbon-Impacted Site. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47, 1977-1984.

  • Leeson, A., H.F. Stroo, and P.C. Johnson. 2012.  Groundwater Remediation Today and Challenges and Opportunities for the Future. Groundwater. 51 (2). 175-179.

  • Stroo, H.F., A. Leeson., J.A. Marqusee, P.C. Johnson, C.H. Ward, M.C. Kavanagh, T.C. Sale, C.J. Newell, K.D. Pennell, C.A. LeBron, M. Unger. 2012.  Chlorinated Ethene Source Remediation: Lessons Learned. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46. 6438−6447.

  • Triplett Kingston, J.T., P.R. Dahlen, P.C. Johnson. 2012.  Assessment of Groundwater Quality Improvements and Mass Discharge Reductions at Five In Situ Electrical Resistance Heating Remediation Sites.  Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation.  32 (3). 41-51. Summer.

  • Kingston, J.T, P.R. Dahlen, and P.C. Johnson.  2010.  State of the Practice Review of In Situ Thermal Technologies. Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation. 30 (4). 64 – 72.

  • Johnson, P.C., C.L. Bruce, K.D. Miller.  2010.  A Practical Approach to the Design, Monitoring, and Optimization of In Situ MTBE Aerobic Biobarriers.  Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation. 30 (1).  58-66.