David R Johnson

Photo of David Johnson
Associate Mathematician; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in policy analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School; M.S. in mathematics, University of Cambridge; B.S. in mathematics, North Carolina State University


David R. Johnson is an associate mathematician at the RAND Corporation whose interdisciplinary research focuses broadly on decision-making under deep uncertainty. He is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Johnson has presented and published on a variety of climate change issues including coastal flood risk management, renewable energy policy, assessing infrastructure risks, and water scarcity management.

For the past three years, Johnson has been heavily engaged in client-focused work for the state of Louisiana. He was the lead developer of the flood risk model used to assess the impacts of a wide range of flood protection systems for Louisiana's 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. He developed new statistical methods for estimating flood exceedance probabilities in protected areas like New Orleans, and has been working to identify robust strategies for nonstructural mitigation measures like elevating or floodproofing homes. He also created a model of greenhouse gas emissions from the production of biomass for the National Energy Technology Laboratory and has worked with water agencies to build uncertainty into their long-range planning.

Johnson holds a Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School, with concentrations in quantitative methods and economics. He previously earned a B.S. in mathematics from North Carolina State University and MASt in mathematics from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Recent Projects

  • Adapting to Future Hurricane Risk Under Climate Change Uncertainty
  • Louisiana Flood Risk Model Development
  • Uncertainty in Carbon Emissions from Biomass

Selected Publications

D Johnson, J Fischbach, D Ortiz, "Estimating Surge-Based Flood Risk with the Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment Model," Journal of Coastal Research, (S67):109-126, 2013

D Johnson, A Curtright, H Willis, "Identifying Key Drivers of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Biomass Feedstocks for Energy Production," Environmental Science & Policy, 33(11):109-119, 2013

J Fischbach, D Johnson, D Ortiz, B Bryant, M Hoover, J Ostwald, Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment Model: Technical Description and 2012 Coastal Master Plan Analysis Results, RAND Corporation (TR-1259-CPRA), 2012

A Curtright, D Johnson, H Willis, T Skone, "Scenario Uncertainties in Estimating Direct Land-Use Change Emissions in Biomass-to-Energy Life Cycle Assessment," Biomass & Bioenergy, 47(12):240-249, 2012

D Johnson, H Willis, A Curtright, C Samaras, T Skone, "Incorporating Uncertainty into Estimates of Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Biomass Production," Biomass & Bioenergy, 35(7):2619-2626, 2011

Honors & Awards

  • Gates Cambridge Scholar, University of Cambridge
  • Cazier Dissertation Award in Sustainability, Pardee RAND Graduate School