Dr. David W. Johnston is a Professor of the Practice of Marine Conservation Ecology at Duke University and the Associate Dean of Teaching Innovation at the Nicholas School of the Environment.  Johnston chairs the Duke Environmental Leadership Master’s Program and is the Director of the Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing (MaRRS) Lab at Duke University. Johnston holds a PhD from Duke University and received post-doctoral training at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. His professional experience ranges from leading research programs for NOAA to working as an ecologist within the NGO sector. Johnston’s research program currently focuses on advancing robotic applications, platforms and sensors for marine science, education, and conservation missions. He has published extensively in top journals in the fields of conservation biology, oceanography, marine ecology and marine policy on research that spans tropical, temperate and polar biomes. Johnston is an innovative teacher with experience in both large and small classrooms, and is skilled in online course development and deployment, field-based learning, and data visualization.

School Division

Marine Science & Conservation Marine Lab


  • Ph.D., Duke University (2004)

Recent Publications