Parting Thoughts: Remembering teacher and neuroscientist Adam Johnson

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Adam Johnson teaching using Shel Silverstein.
Adam Johnson teaching using Shel Silverstein.
Dan Yim

Adam Johnson was known as a brilliant neuroscientist. He was also a dedicated professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bethel University.

As his partner Carrie Peffley told MPR News host Cathy Wurzer, Johnson's colon cancer diagnosis several years ago did little to change all that.

When one of his chemo treatments made it painful for him to touch things that were cold, Johnson turned the experience into an experiment for his neuroscience students — Skyping into class so they could observe him trying to hold a chilled can of Coke. Peffley said that was just like him.

"He was very, very interested in what was going on from an experimentalist perspective," said Peffley, a philosophy professor at Bethel. "And I guess he figured, 'Well, I have to go through this, so I might as well make the best of it, learn from it, make sure that other students learn from it.'"

Johnson died of cancer in April, at the age of 39. Peffley talked with Wurzer about his life, as part of an occasional series on remarkable Minnesotans who have passed away.