March 15, 2011

Good New Tuesday: Dr. Ashanti Johnson (University of South Florida)

Black Enterprise shared the story of five 'Women in STEM'. We need to tell OURstory whenever we can. Otherwise we will forever remain stuck with HIS-story and that one will whitewash us out altogether.

It is with pleasure that we share with our 'villagers' the good news about:

Ashanti Johnson, Ph. D.
Chemical Oceanographer/Geochemist
University of South Florida,
College of Marine Science

Studying soil and sedimentation of rivers, estuaries, and beaches, Ashanti Johnson’s work as an aquatic radiogeochemist was instrumental in decoding the environmental effects of potentially hazardous incidents throughout Puerto Rico.

Johnson can be found scouring the beaches of Rincón, where a nuclear power plant operated until the 1970s, or collecting soil samples in Vieques, where depleted uranium residue remained for years following an artillery firing range run by the U.S. Navy. “These problems have been investigated very little,” says Johnson. “It takes a lot of dedication and is really labor intensive. You get muddy, you get wet, and at the end of the day, you’re happy to have processed your samples.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in marine science and a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from Texas A&M University. Her Ph.D. work helped assess whether nuclear waste released in the Arctic by the former Soviet Union migrated toward the Alaskan coastline. She also spent a short time working at Exxon as a geochemist before venturing back into teaching at Georgia Tech and Savannah State University.

Acclaimed for her mentorship, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by President Barack Obama in recognition of her work bridging professional development activities for underrepresented minorities. As the executive director of the Institute of Broadening Participation, Johnson has helped 159 students achieve a Ph.D. in earth system sciences.

I appreciate the work that Dr. Johnson is doing with IBP as I'm with a group that created an event, BDPA IT Showcase, to encourage more African Americans students to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science.  Perhaps some BDPA students will one day see Dr. Johnson as their role model in their educational and career journey!

This blog will continue to seek out Good News stories about people of African descent and share them with you each Tuesday. We need to tell the positive and upbeat information about OURstory. We can't depend on others to do it for us. Please pass along any Good News story that comes your way. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to join our Good News parade every Tuesday.

No comments: