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June 27, 2018
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Woods Hole Diversity Initiative to Present Jearld Lecture on Building a More Diverse Geosciences Workforce

Ashanti Johnson, an internationally recognized expert and speaker on professional development, diversity, and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics, will present the 2018 Ambrose Jearld Jr. Lecture on Diversity and Inclusion.

Sponsored by the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative and the Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee, her lecture on “Strategies for Facilitating and Supporting a Diverse Geoscience Talent Pool and Workforce: Lessons Learned” will take place on Wednesday, July 11, at 3:00 p.m. in Redfield Auditorium at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). A reception will follow the lecture. The event is free and open to the public.

The lecture is named in honor of longtime NOAA Fisheries employee Ambrose Jearld, Jr. for his work in making Woods Hole a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming community. Jearld retired from NOAA Fisheries Service in September 2016 after 38 years of service at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, most recently as Director of Academic Programs.

Jearld has been active in the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative since its founding in 2004, serving as chairman of the Diversity Advisory Committee and as the founding director of the Partnership Education Program (PEP), a project of the Diversity Initiative. PEP is a 10-week summer internship program that brings 16 students from minority groups that are underrepresented in marine and environmental sciences to Woods Hole each summer for a month-long course and 6 - 8 weeks of research on individual projects at the six science institutions in the village.

Johnson received her B.S. degree in marine science in 1993 and Ph.D. in oceanography in 1999 from Texas A&M University. As a chemical oceanographer and aquatic scientist, she has conducted research as a faculty member at Georgia Institute of Technology, Savannah State University, University of South Florida, and the University of Texas. During her career Johnson gained more than 15 years of senior leadership experience in university, non-profit, and K-12 organizations. She has served as an Assistant Vice Provost at the University of Texas at Arlington, Executive Director of the Institute for Broadening Participation, and as chief executive officer (CEO) of STEM Human Resource Development Inc. She has also served as Executive Director of the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success (MS PHD’S) Professional Development and Mentoring Institute, and as the CEO/Superintendent of Cirrus Academy, a state-wide STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) charter school system in Georgia.

Her many honors and awards include a 2007 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring presented by President Obama at the White House, a 2016 American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award, and a 2016 American Geophysical Union Excellence in Geophysical Education Award.

Johnson has been profiled online, in STEM textbooks and in various other publications. She has been an invited speaker in Cambodia, Brazil, Spain, China, Mexico, and for several U.S. government agencies, universities, international conferences and K-12 organizations. In the February 2018 Black History Month issue of Essence Magazine, Dr. Johnson is recognized as one of “STEM’s New Guard” in an article highlighting “15 Women who are Paving the Way and Paying it Forward.” In 2016, Black Enterprise Magazine described her as one of “10 Black Women Changing the World via Science and Technology.”

The Ambrose Jearld, Jr. Lecture is given every summer in Woods Hole by invited scholars, scientists, authors and others who can challenge the status quo to bring perspective, knowledge and expertise to the subject of building a more diverse and inclusive community. The first Ambrose Jearld Jr. Lecture on Diversity and Inclusion lecture was presented in July 2017 by David J. Asai, senior director of science education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), on “Inclusive Excellence in Science: Race Matters”.

Jearld devoted much of his career to fostering NOAA's goal of maintaining a workplace in which all people are respected as individuals and valued for their contributions. His work with NOAA, higher education institutions (especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions) has helped make oceanography and marine biology more accessible to a diverse body of students and research faculty.

Participating institutions in the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative are the Marine Biological Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Sea Education Association, U.S. Geological Survey Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Woods Hole Research Center.