Matt Johnson is a Research Specialist at the University of Arizona as well as Program Manager and Curator of the Desert Legume Program (1989-present). The Desert Legume Program (DELEP) is a joint project of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. DELEP was established in 1988 to develop a comprehensive seed bank of wild species of legumes (Fabaceae) that are native to or adapted to arid and semi-arid regions, to preserve these seeds long-term, to provide seeds and information to individuals and organizations around the world, and to investigate potential uses for these plants.
He was Botany Curator at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson from 1983 to 1987 and has worked in various capacities at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson Botanical Gardens, and in the commercial nursery industry in Arizona. He travelled extensively to study and photograph plants and plant habitats in the southwestern United States and in arid regions of Mexico, Argentina, Australia, and South Africa. International travel has involved visits to 15 countries on six continents.
Matt is also a botanical illustrator with line illustrations and photographs appearing in several books and numerous other publications. He is the author of the field guide Cacti, other Succulents, and Unusual Xerophytes of Southern Arizona, (2004), and was one of the authors of Trees of Sonora, Mexico, (2001). Many of his illustrations appear in Trees of Sonora, Mexico and Flora of the Gran Desierto and Río Colorado of Northwestern Mexico (2000). He has over fifty published articles on botany and horticulture of plants from arid regions.