Odis Johnson

Odis Johnson

Professor of Education and Sociology
Director of the Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational, & Mixed Methodologies
Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity
Brown School Faculty
research interests:
  • Spatial Stratification
  • Schools
  • Race
  • Social Policy
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1183
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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Professor Johnson’s research examines how neighborhoods, schools, and public policies relate to social inequality, youth development and the status of African American populations.

Odis Johnson Jr. is a Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Education, Director of the NSF Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational, and Mixed Methodologies, and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity at Washington University in St. Louis. He also is a Faculty Scholar at the Institute of Public Health, affiliated faculty at the Brown School, both at Washington University. Prior to his appointments at Washington University, Johnson chaired the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland. Johnson completed his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, and a Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago.

Johnson’s civic and intellectual engagements extend from a realization that his own childhood experiences in struggling inner-city neighborhoods and their institutions are shared by far too many people of color. The scholarship that has emerged from this awareness has featured the complicating intersections of residential stratification, the relative status of African Americans, and social policy (educational, housing, or policing policies), not only to expand knowledge, but in hopes of increasing the possibilities of evidenced-based social reform. His work on these topics has earned him a National Academies/Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (the first awarded to an education scholar in the history of the interdisciplinary competition), the 2013 Outstanding Review of Research Award from the American Educational Research Association, and the 2015 Outstanding Author Contribution Award in the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.

Johnson’s research has appeared in highly-selective scientific journals, including the Review of Educational Research, Social Science and Medicine, and the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Research. Research grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Spencer Foundation have funded much of this work, and positioned Johnson as a leader within national conversations and efforts related to the advancement of quantitative and computational science in federal research. He currently is the principal investigator of the Fatal Interactions with Police Study (FIPS) which has generated a national data file of police homicides, and three NSF-funded studies that examine how strategies to maintain law and order in neighborhoods and schools impact the representation of race-gender groups within the School-to-Prison and STEM pipelines.  Johnson’s work and ideas about social change have been featured in prominent media outlets, including the Oprah Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, The Washington Post, MSNBC, NPR, Teen Vogue, The Associated Press, Vox, The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, SiriusXM, and a variety of international and local news outlets.

Selected Publications

Johnson, O. Jr., J. Jabbari, M. Williams and O. Marcucci. 2019. “Disparate Impacts: Balancing the Need for Safe Schools with Racial Equity in Discipline.” Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Ibrahim, Habiba and O. Johnson, Jr. 2019. “School Discipline, Race-Gender and STEM Readiness: A Hierarchical Analysis of the Impact of School Discipline on Math Achievement in High School.” The Urban Review. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-019-00513-6

Gilbert, K., R. Ray and O. Johnson Jr. 2019. “What influences adolescent male development and well—being: Implications of the limits and opportunities of social policy. Policy and Politics and Inequalities in Men’s Health.” In D. Griffith, Morino Bruce and Roland Thorpe Jr. (Eds.) “Men's Health Equity:  A Handbook.” Routledge.

Johnson, Jr., O., C. St. Vil, K. Gilbert, M. Goodman and C. Arroyo Johnson. 2019. “How Neighborhoods Matter in Fatal Interactions between Police and Men of Color.” Social Science and Medicine, 220, January, Pages 226-235.

St. Vil, Christopher, A. Mitchell, N. Bounoua, O. Johnson, Jr., and C. Lejuez. 2018. “Code of the Street in Black and White.” Spectrum, volume 7 (fall), no. 1, pages 17 - 36.

Gilbert, K., R. Ray, W. Carson Byrd, J. B. Richards, O. Johnson, Jr. 2018. "The Matter of Lives Underneath Black Male Skin: Using Theory and Media to Explore the Case of ‘Justifiable Homicides’ for Black Males" In Inequality, Crime, and Health Among African American Males, edited by B. Marino  and Darnell Hawkins. Published online: 13 Nov 2018; 171-183. Emerald Publishing.

Barnes, David and O. Johnson, Jr. 2018. “The Influence Parent Socialization and School Environment has on African-American Adolescent Males' Mathematics Self-Efficacy and Engineering Career Trajectory.” Frontiers in Education, 1-7.

Johnson, Jr., O and M. Wagner. 2017. “Equalizers or Enablers of Inequality? A Counterfactual Analysis of Racial and Residential Test-Score Gaps in Year-Round and 9-Month Schools.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 674, 1, 240-261.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2017. “The Changing Influence of Educational Policy and Race on Metropolitan Inequality, 1970 – 2010.” The Educational Forum, a Journal of Kappa Delta Pi. Volume 81(2), 175-192.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2015. A Framework for Inquiry into Neighborhood-Institutional Relationships Related to Public Housing and Adolescent Development. In V. Nebbitt (Ed), "Adolescents in Public Housing. Addressing Psychological and Behavioral Health." NY: Columbia University Press.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2015. "Expressive Cool" and the Paradox of Black and White Males’ Neighborhood Socialization Toward Education." Youth & Society, May, p 1-29.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2014. "Race–Gender Inequality Across Residential and School Contexts: What Can Policy Do?" In "African American Males in PreK-12 schools: Informing Research, Practice, and Policy" edited by James L. Moore and Chance W. Lewis. Emerald Publishing.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2014. “Still Separate, Still Unequal. The Relation of Segregation in Neighborhoods and Schools to Test-Score Inequality.” Journal of Negro Education, 83(3): 199-215.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2013. “Is Concentrated Advantage the Cause? The Relative Contributions of Neighborhood Advantage and Disadvantage to Educational Inequality.” The Urban Review, 45(5): 561-585.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2012. “Toward a Theory of Place: Social Mobility, Proximity and Proximal Capital.” Pp. 29-46 in Research on Schools, Neighborhoods and Communities:  Toward Civic Responsibility, Presidential Volume edited by William Tate. MD: Rowman & Littlefield and the American Educational Research Association.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2012. “Relocation Programs, Opportunities to Learn and the Complications of Conversion.” Review of Educational Research, 82 (2): 131-178. (Winner of the American Educational Research Association 2013 Outstanding Review of Research Award).

Johnson, Jr., O. 2012. “A Systematic Review of Neighborhood and Institutional Relationships Related to Education.” Education and Urban Society, 44 (4): 477-511.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2010. “Assessing Neighborhood Racial Segregation and Macroeconomic Effects in the Education of African Americans.” Review of Educational Research, 80(4): 527-75.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2008. “Ecology in Educational Theory: Thoughts on Ecology, Stratification and Proximal Capital.” The Urban Review, 40 (3): 227-246.

Johnson, Jr., O. 2008. “Who Benefits from Concentrated Affluence?: A Synthesis of Neighborhood Effects Considering Race, Gender and Education Outcomes.” Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, 14 (2): 85-112.