Biomedical engineering department pioneer, emeritus professor Ensign Johnson dies

An emeritus professor who early in his career was one of three faculty members to lay the foundation for the biomedical engineering department at Vanderbilt University died Nov. 3, 2016, in Nashville.

L. Ensign Johnson

L. Ensign Johnson, Jr., 85, was a professor of biomedical engineering and electrical engineering from 1959 to 1999. His research focus included reliability, automatic control theory, and robot control, and he was active for many decades in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional organization.

During his tenure, Johnson was the recipient of numerous teaching awards. In retirement, he continued to serve Vanderbilt for several years as the coordinator of the School of Engineering’s review course for the first professional engineering licensure test. Johnson received the school’s Edward J. White Faculty Award for Excellence in Service in 2001.

Johnson also served the university as associate provost from 1970 to 1975.

He earned a bachelor of engineering degree and a master’s degree in divinity from Vanderbilt. Johnson earned a master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering from Case Institute of Technology.

Johnson served in the U.S. Navy in San Francisco as a Lieutenant junior grade in the 1950s.

He is survived by three children and four grandchildren.