Faculty Spotlight

Blair Johnson, PhD

Blair Johnson is an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science (ENS).

The lab's purpose is to measure autonomic function using muscle synthetic nerve activity, which is a direct indicator of actual nerve bursts.
Blair Johnson, PhD, Assistant Professor
Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

His research focuses include physiological responses to carotid body stimulation as well as hemodynamic responses to simulated blood-loss.

"I am interested in how the different physiological systems respond to environmental stress; particularly heat stress and hypoxia, and how our bodies respond to events such as trauma or blood-loss."

Before joining the University at Buffalo, Blair served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. There, he studied topics that centered on the reflex control of hemodynamics and metabolism. More specifically, he conducted projects that examined the physiological responses to blood-loss. Blair also examined the role of the carotid body chemoreceptors in controlling ventilation during hyperthermia and blood glucose regulation during prolonged aerobic exercise.

Understanding Physiological Responses to Carotid Body Stimulation

Blair is responsible for setting up a lab to conduct further studies in these various areas of research interest.

"One purpose of my research is to understand what stimulates the carotid body chemoreceptors and how the body responds to these stimuli in a variety of participant populations,” Blair explains.  “We have the capabilities to simultaneously measure sympathetic nerve activity, blood pressure, limb and skin blood flow, sweat rate, and heart function in response to a variety of external stimuli, such as heat stress, hypoxia, orthostatic tolerance, and exercise.”

Blair says one of the studies will examine how heart failure patients respond in heat stress. 

"During heat waves, there is a rise in mortality, especially those with cardiovascular disease and even more specifically, those with heart failure. What we are trying to understand is why these individuals have certain maladapations. If we can mitigate those, we can prevent a person with heart failure from undergoing a heat-related event."

UB Facilities Stand Out

When Blair visited UB for the first time, he was immediately impressed with the facilities and knew that he wanted to work here. 

"You do not see many Exercise and Nutrition Sciences Departments that can match our Department in terms of facilities that we have readily available to us. In ENS, we have an environmental chamber, exercise testing and training laboratories, a water immersion room, and a barometric chamber. These facilities, along with a laundry list of equipment for human monitoring and testing, makes the ENS Department rare among other kinesiology and exercise science programs.”

Tips on Choosing a Program

"I think the initial step in the process is to find a faculty member who has similar interests, get in contact with them, see if they have space for you and if they have research opportunities available," explains Blair. "I also think what is really important is visiting campus, getting to know the people and actually seeing the space. Once you come to UB, you will see all the great things we have to offer!"