In memory – Dr Martin Johnson, Emeritus Professor in Nursing

Categories: School of Health and Society

We are immensely saddened to let you know of the death of our Emeritus Professor in Nursing, Dr Martin Johnson.

Martin began nursing at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, gaining post-qualification experience in acute, intensive care, haematology and finally mental health nursing. 

He joined the University of Salford School of Nursing and Midwifery in 2001 as our first Professor in Nursing, tasked with developing nursing and midwifery research to support the profile of the school as a research-informed and capable unit. This he achieved through the creation of the first nursing and midwifery research centre in 2002, developing and supporting many aspiring researchers in these and other disciplines, leading a notably successful, first ever, Research Assessment Exercise submission for Nursing & Midwifery (then Unit 11) - placing 10th in the UK for “research power”. His influence continued after retirement in 2016 in his role as Emeritus Professor.

Beyond the university, he was appointed as a sub-panel member for RAE2008 and REF2014, and served as Editor in Chief of the prestigious Nurse Education Today journal – which was world-leading in the field. In this role he led the formation of the NETNEP series of biennial international conferences, starting in Vancouver (2006), continuing in Dublin (2008) and Sydney (2010), and still held - most recently in Barcelona (2022). 

He supported the Royal College of Nursing as an elected member of its Research Executive Committee and was widely consulted in the profession across the UK and internationally. He co-led programmes to enable international collaborations of staff and students on Human Rights, Older People and End of Life Care (HUROPEL), and innovative curricula at master’s level across Europe (Positive About Dementia).

His own research, scholarship and international engagement focused on older people, human rights, and ethics; presenting invited masterclasses on qualitative research, ethics and values in Canada, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Swaziland and Switzerland. He guided many doctoral students to completion, including NHS professionals and international students. 

Colleague Natalie Yates-Bolton, Senior Lecturer in Nursing, remembers Martin as someone who was “known for encouraging and supporting colleagues to develop the research aspect of their roles in such a way that staff then passed on this knowledge, encouragement and support to students.”

In his Professorial role, Martin’s focus was first and foremost on Salford. His approach to national and international work was such that he included colleagues at all stages of their careers to collaborate in these projects, enabling others to develop valuable and wide-ranging expertise. 

Natalie says: “Academic adventures seem to be part of many people's memories of working with Martin. On one trip to Finland, he was named 'Martin fact-of-the day-Johnson' as a result of his love of sharing random, interesting facts with the rest of the team.”

Another former colleague, Professor Tony Long, said: “Martin will be remembered not only as an insightful, intelligent scholar and successful academic, but also as a trusted friend, a reliable supporter, and a determined defender of those subject to injustice. His personal values were enacted in all that he did, in his relationships with colleagues and students, as a supporter of Lymphoma Action, and as a mentor for so many others over so many years. His wry (sometimes wicked) sense of humour was as well-known as his kind, gentle manner and his modest appraisal of his own achievements.”

While Martin excelled in his career, his primary focus was always his family: his wife Alison and sons Will and Rob. Martin's fascination with astronomy led to trips to far flung places to observe once-in-a-lifetime eclipses and events, as well as adventures to places like the Grand Canyon and skiing holidays. Cycling was also a long-time passion of Martin's.

Professor Margaret Rowe, Dean of the School of Health and Society, said: “Martin was an amazing person, so supportive and caring. His impact and compassion will be remembered by many colleagues at the University of Salford and beyond. Our thoughts are with his family and friends – he will be sadly missed.”

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.