Cassidy Johnson photo

Dr. Cassidy Johnson is a biologist and local conservation enthusiast with years of experience in formal classroom, outdoor, and community education. She teaches a diverse number of courses, including immunology, experimental lab techniques, conservation biology and plant diversity and lectures for the Glasscock School’s Master of Liberal Studies program. Cassidy previously taught biology and microbiology at Houston Community College where she also developed novel, experiential student learning opportunities as a West Houston Institute Faculty Innovation Fellow. Cassidy formerly worked for the Houston Zoo, Inc.’s Department of Conservation and Science as a Houston toad specialist in the Houston toad ex situ conservation program. Cassidy has a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology from Rice University.

Cassidy is a native Texan and has been involved in Houston-area conservation for more than a decade. She previously served as the president of the Coastal Prairie Partnership and currently sits on the board of the Native Prairie Association of Texas. She continues to collaborate with several conservation groups, including the Coastal Prairie Conservancy, the Native Prairie Association of Texas, The Nature Conservancy-Texas, the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center and others to continue to protect and restore local ecosystems. To help undergraduate students make meaningful connections with the challenges facing the environment, she has designed her classes around authentic, course-based research experiences (CURES). Her current CUREs focus on the development of an eDNA probe for the endangered Houston toad (BIOS 211) and the ecological restoration of Rice’s Harris Gully Natural Area (BIOS 322, BIOS 399).

Her research involves the restoration of the Harris Gully Natural Area (HGNA) in collaboration with Rice’s Arboretum Committee, the Rice grounds team, the Center for Sustainability, Rice Architecture, and serval other concerned faculty members. The goal for the restoration is to establish the HGNA as a “living laboratory” dedicated to the study and protection of urban biodiversity and conservation by the Rice community.

Cassidy continues to assist with Houston toad conservation by hosting education and outreach activities in the greater, Houston community. She has federal and state permits to keep an ambassador Houston toad named Julia, who loves to engage the public to elevate the plight of her species. Cassidy’s (and Julia’s) conservation education motto is “you can’t care about what you don’t know!”


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