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Ashanti Johnson

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Name  Ashanti Johnson

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Ashanti Johnson (previously Ashanti Johnson-Pyrtle) is an American geochemist and chemical oceanographer. She is one of the first female African American chemical oceanographers and the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in oceanography from Texas A&M University-Galveston.


Ashanti Johnson Ashanti Johnson Wikipedia

Johnson has been a faculty member at the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, the Savannah State University Marine Science Program, the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, and the University of Texas at Arlington Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

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Early life and education

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Johnson received her B.S. in 1993 in Marine Science from Texas A&M University-Galveston, where she became the first African American student body president. She received her Ph.D. in Oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1999.

In her “Women Exploring Oceans” interview, Johnson reveals how she initially became interested in the oceans by watching Jacques Cousteau. Her interest was strengthened in fifth grade, when she spent a day discussing the oceans with a female marine biology graduate student. Johnson cherishes the childhood memory and has sought to share her own interest in the oceans with children, teachers, community leaders, college students, and federal government officials.

Career and research

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Johnson's areas of research specialization include aquatic radiogeochemistry, professional development of students, and science and engineering diversity-focused initiatives. Her aquatic radiogeochemistry research activities focus on the utilization of various biogeochemical indicators to interpret past events that have impacted the marine, estuarine and freshwater environments in the Arctic, as well as in coastal regions of Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

Diversity-focused initiatives in academia

Johnson’s professional development and diversity-focused scholarly activities facilitate research and professional development experiences for students who represent diverse socioeconomic, cultural, gender, racial and academic backgrounds. She serves as the director of one of four NASA One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI) Broker-Facilitator Corps, as well as the director for the NASA and NSF-funded Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science Initiative. She is also the PI of the NSF-funded Pathways to Ocean Science Project and Co-PI of the NSF-funded Pathways to Engineering Project. While an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, Johnson served as the PI and director of the NSF-funded Florida-Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation USF Bridge to the Doctorate Program and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Minority Ph.D. Program in the College of Marine Science. She also co-directed the NSF-funded USF College of Marine Science OCEANS Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (OCEANS GK-12) Fellowship Program, and facilitated the establishment of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl's Spoonbill Bowl Regional Competition at USF College of Marine Science.

Organizational involvement

Johnson has served NSF's Advisory Committee on Environmental Research and Education, the American Geophysical Union Committee on Education and Human Resources as well as their Subcommittee on Diversity, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Education Committee, International Safe Water Conference Steering Committee, Digital Library for Earth System Education Annual Planning Committee, Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station Advisory Board, University of Maine’s ADVANCE Rising Tide Center Advisory Board, COSEE: Ocean Systems Advisory Board, Maine Physical Sciences Partnership Advisory Board, MentorNet Geosciences Advisory Board and the Howard University Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Program External Advisory Board. Her recent service activities include serving on the steering committee for the American Academy of Microbiology’s “Training the Microbiologist of the Future Colloquium”, being on the executive committee of “CHANGES - the Coalition of Hispanic, African and Native Americans for the Next Generation of Engineers and Scientists”, and participating in the White House Workshop on STEM Minority Inclusion, as well as the White House Forum on Minorities in Energy.

Awards and recognition

Johnson has received numerous honors and awards and has been published in many scientific and education journals. In January 2010 she received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) at the White House in recognition of her professional development and diversity-related activities. On February 1, 2010 she was recognized by The Grio as one of 100 History Makers in The Making. She was profiled in the Black Enterprise Magazine March 2011 Issue’s “Women In STEM” feature story. Johnson’s activities have been highlighted in numerous newspapers, on several websites, and by Fox and ABC television affiliates. Ashanti Johnson has recently been looked up to as one of the best oceanographers of this generation.


  • Nelson, S. A., Hain, E. F., Hartis, B. M. and Johnson, A. (2014) Changing the Game: Multidimensional Mentoring and Partnerships in the Recruitment of Underrepresented Students. In: Taylor, W.W., A. Lynch, and N. Leonard (Eds.) Future of Fisheries: Perspectives for Emerging Professionals. American Fisheries Society Press, Bethesda MD. (in press)
  • Johnson, A. and White, N. (2014) Ocean Acidification: The Other Climate Change Issue. American Scientist. Volume 102. p. 60-63
  • Pyrtle A.J. and Williamson V.A. (2007) The Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success (MS PHD’S ®) In Earth System Science Professional Development Initiative: Enhancing Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact of Diversity Through Alignment of Vision, Goals and Objectives and Measurement. Journal of Geoscience Education. 55(6) p. 514-521
  • Pyrtle, A.J., Powell, J.M, Williamson-Whitney, V.A. (2007) Virtual Community Building for Effective Engagement of Students of Color in Earth System Science: Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science Case Studies. Journal of Geoscience Education. 55(6) p. 522-530
  • NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (including A. J. Pyrtle). (2005) Complex Environmental Systems: Pathways to the Future. National Science Foundation. 12pp.
  • Pyrtle A. J., Wilborn U.S., Ingall E.D., Grantham M.C., and Elliott W.C. (2004) Radionuclide Distribution and Geochemistry of the Savannah (Georgia) Aquatic Environment. Environmental Monitoring and Restoration. 3, p. 64-72
  • Weiler C., Beaulieu S., and other DIALOG III participants (including A. Pyrtle) (2000) Perspectives on Graduate Education Experiences in Aquatic Science. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin, 9(1)
  • Johnson-Pyrtle A. (2003) Marginal Seas. In Water: Science and Issues, ed. E. Julius Dasch. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, p. 54-57 (Invited Contribution)
  • Johnson-Pyrtle A., Scott M., Laing T. and Smol J. (2000) Cs-137 Distribution and Geochemistry of Lena River (Siberia) Drainage Basin Lake Sediments. The Science of the Total Environment, 255(1-3), p. 145-159
  • Cooper L., Beasley T., Dolvin S., Grebmeier J., Kelley J., Scott M. and Johnson-Pyrtle A. (1998) The Distribution of Radiocesium and Plutonium in Sea Ice-Entrained Arctic Sediments in Relation to Potential Sources and Sinks. J. Environmental Radioactivity, 39(3), p. 279-303
  • References

    Ashanti Johnson Wikipedia

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