Estrella Johnson

Assistant Professor
Virginia Tech


Estrella Johnson grew up in small farming towns in central New Mexico. This stretch of the Rio Grande valley has always been home for her family. As far as she knows, they were there before the land was taken from Mexico by the United States, before the Spanish Conquistadors marched north. Watching her parents improve their lives through education (starting at a local community college in their 30s, with her mom eventually earning a master’s in education), Estrella was inspired by the transformative power of education. Supported through public education initiates, including Head Start and the New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship, Estrella graduated from Belen High School and went on to get her undergraduate degree from New Mexico State University. She then earned her graduate degrees from Portland State University. Estrella is now an assistant professor in the mathematics department at Virginia Tech. Estrella and her husband have two boys, Trinidad and Milagro.

Estrella’s research agenda comprises a multi-faceted approach to researching one large, important, and relevant question: How can we support high quality ambitious teaching in university mathematics classrooms? She addresses this question by investigating the work of teaching, developing and evaluating instructional supports, and identifying individual and contextual factors that influence pedagogical decision-making. Estrella has worked extensively on investigating and supporting mathematicians as they work to implement inquiry-oriented instructional materials (NSF #1431595). Additionally, she has worked on large-scale national survey projects investigating instructional practice, and influences on practice, in undergraduate STEM education (e.g., NSF #1430540, NSF #0910240, NSF #1726281).

“The contributions and accomplishments of Hispanics/Latinas/Chicanas often go unrecognized in this country. Visibility matters. Representation matters. Bringing our cultural and racial identities into mathematics matters.”