Faculty Experts - Jeffrey A. Johnson, PhD

Jeffrey Johnson, PhD

Jeffrey A. Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor of History
Department of History
Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Area of Expertise

  • World War I
  • 19th and 20th Century German history from Imperial Germany to Nazi Germany
  • The history of science and technology (chemistry, the chemical industry, science policy, scientific organizations, and gender in science)
  • The history of artificial life and artificial reproduction


Chemical warfare has been used in wartime conflict throughout history and is an issue that continues to plague humanity. Dr. Johnson can elaborate on the origins of chemical warfare and the history of the chemical industry during the First World War, including munitions production and applied chemical science. He is an expert on 19th and 20th century German history, from Imperial Germany to Nazi Germany, and the history of science and technology. Dr. Johnson also has an interest in the history of and cultural perspectives on artificial life and artificial reproduction, including in vitro fertilization, cloning, transplants, genetic engineering, robots and artificial intelligence. 


  • PhD, History, Princeton University
  • MA, History, Princeton University
  • BA, History, Rice University 

Selected Publications

  • "The Case of the Missing German Quantum Chemists: On Molecular Models, Mobilization, and the Paradoxes of Modernizing Chemistry in Nazi Germany," Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, 43/4, September 2013.
  • "Discipline - Industry - Profession: German Chemical Organizations, 1867-1914 " in Creating Networks in Chemistry: The Founding and Early History of the Chemical Societies in Europe, 2008.
  • "Chemistry, Engineering, and Rationalisation in Germany 1919-33,” Neighbours and Territories: The Evolving Identity of Chemistry: Proceedings of the 6th International Congress on History of Chemistry, September 2007.
  • Co-author, German Industry and Global Enterprise. BASF: The History of a Company (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), Part II, "The Power of Synthesis (1900 -1925)," pp. 115-205 (other parts by Wolfgang von Hippel, Raymond G. Stokes, and Werner Abelshauser
  • The Kaiser's Chemists: Science and Modernization in Imperial Germany (Chapel Hill, N. C.: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1990).

Selected Professional Experience

  • Villanova faculty member since 1986
  • President, Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry of the IUHPS/DHST (International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science, Division of History of Science and Technology), 2011-present
  • Assistant Professor, State University of New York at Binghamton

Selected Research

  • National Science Foundation Research Grant, “The Great War and Modern Chemistry: The Chemists' War as a Technological System, 1914 1920," 1998-2003.
  • Villanova University Summer Fellowship and Research Support Grant, “Careers of Chemists in Industry: the Case of Bayer, 1914-1939” and “Development of German War Chemical Technology: Comparative Cases, 1914-1918,” 1998. 

About Villanova

Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.

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