Schedule May 24, 2018
Diversity & retention of underrepresented groups in STEM & Earth Sciences
Ashanti Johnson (CEO Cirrus Academy; CEO MS PHD'S[R] Professional Development Institute)

Ashanti Johnson has become a mentor for underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields of academia after struggling with her program's lack of diversity while she was earning her PhD in chemical oceanography. She uses her experiences as examples of the difficulties that arise when academic environments are not accommodating to individuals coming from diverse backgrounds. One of these difficulties includes inadvertent isolation from well-established, successful groups within academic institutions. This can limit opportunities for a student or early career scientist's advancement and hinder research progress by discouraging them from offering their perspectives. These effects may be passed down to next generations of underrepresented groups in academia, proliferating biases and inequality. She suggests integrated strategies which include improving access to resources and encouraging partnerships that expand the reach of research projects and funding. She emphasizes the importance of not only creating welcoming research groups with diverse members, but taking the taking the time to provide guidance and mentorship to them. Mentorship includes nurturing a budding scientists's skills and networks by encouraging them to work through their weaknesses, acknowledging and respecting their cultural identities, and ensuring they are part of a community that fulfills their needs.

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