February is Black History Month, and LSC kicks it off by celebrating Dr. Ashanti Johnson!
Dr. Ashanti Johnson is a chemical oceanographer and the first African American to earn a doctorate in oceanography from Texas A & M University.
Ever since she was in third grade, she dreamed of becoming an oceanographer. She was fascinated by Jacques Cousteau, a well-known ocean explorer whose adventures were featured on television. She also got to spend time with a female marine biologist who inspired her to keep her dream alive regardless of hardships she might experience.
Dr. Johnson was the only African-American woman in her marine biology classes, but that did not deter her from earning her bachelor’s degree in 1993 and her PhD in 1999. Her professional goal is to use biogeochemical indicators to uncover how past natural events have influenced the Arctic Ocean.
Outside of her work as an oceanographer, Johnson now supports many nonprofit organizations, teaches college chemistry courses, and founded her own charter school to inspire young scientists. “The idea of being able to do something I love and help others realize their dreams, it’s the perfect solution for me, the perfect dream,” says Johnson.
She was awarded the US Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at the White House in 2010. Johnson is determined to give back to others and help them reach their goals. She has even started programs to help other graduates of color pursue a PhD in marine science.
To keep up with Dr. Johnson's work, follow her on Twitter at @DrAshantiJ.