Ashanti Johnson

Ashanti JohnsonAshanti Johnson is the recipient of the 2019 Sigma Xi John P. McGovern Science and Society Award. The McGovern Award has recognized achievements by a scientist or engineer that transcends their career as a researcher. Recipients of this award represent a broad spectrum of individuals whose varied activities supported research, the communication of science, and the impact of science on society. 

The award carries an honorarium of $5,000, a commemorative medal, and the opportunity to make remarks at the Society's Annual Meeting.

Johnson is an international expert and highly accredited STEM speaker, profiled in Wikipedia, several STEM textbooks, and various other publications. She is also one of the first African American female chemical oceanographers in the country.

Her keynote topics include STEM professional development; diversity and inclusion; women in STEM; faculty recruitment and diversity; as well as workplace and career empowerment; environmental science; professional development of undergraduate and graduate students; student and early career mentoring; faculty staff professional development; institutional change; organizational leadership and advancement convocations.

Her leadership experiences with non-profit organizations, universities and most recently as CEO and superintendent of Cirrus Academy, a state-wide STEAM charter school in Georgia, has brought her around the world to Samoa, Fiji, Cambodia, Brazil, Spain, China, Mexico, and several U.S. government agencies, universities, international conferences, and K-12 organizations.

Her initial interest in oceanography and marine biology began at a young age, while watching Jacques Cousteau on television and was strengthened during an opportunity to interact with a female marine biology graduate student. After receiving her PhD in oceanography from Texas A&M University, she still cherishes the childhood memories that jump started her college and professional careers. She is known to frequently share her interest in the oceans with children, teachers, community leaders, college students, and federal government officials.

In additional to serving as an aquatic scientist and conducting research, Johnson has gained over 15 years of senior leadership experience in university, non-profit and K-12 organizations, including serving as the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) assistant vice provost for faculty recruitment and diversity, Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP) executive director, STEM Human Resource Development, Inc. CEO, Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success (MS PHD’S) Professional Development and Mentoring Institute executive director, and Cirrus Academy CEO/superintendent.

Johnson currently serves as a visiting associate chemistry professor for Fort Valley State University, and previously served as special assistant to the president (STEM Initiatives) at Morris Brown College, and former associate professor of environmental science. She has also been a faculty member at the University of South Florida, Georgia Institute of Technology and Savannah State University. Her honors continued throughout her career and she’s received a U.S.Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring by President Obama at the White House.

Most recently she received the prestigious American Geophysical Union (AGU) Excellence in Geophysical Education Award, the AGU Ambassador Award, and was recognized as an AGU Fellow.