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Looking Back to Move Forward

Science Pioneers Pave the Way for Current Scientists
Black History Month

Friday, February 17, 2023 written by Ashley Mitchell

February is Black History Month, and we want to celebrate some trailblazing black scientists who contributed significantly to environmental sciences. Throughout history, black scientists like George Washington Carver, Samuel Milton Nabrit, and Marjorie Richard were the first in their field. George Washington Carver is considered one of America’s greatest agricultural researchers and educators because of his innovative work on crop rotation and resource conservation. Samuel Milton Nabrit is celebrated for his work on the regrowth of fish fins after injury or disease. He was the first African American to graduate from Brown University with a Ph.D. and serve on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Atomic Energy Commission. Marjorie Richard was the first African American to win the Goldman Environmental Prize after holding Shell accountable for the pipeline explosion that killed two people and spewed petrochemical byproducts into the atmosphere in 1973. These scientists paved the way for an incredible community of black researchers, educators, and scholars who continue revolutionizing environmental sciences.

Dorceta Taylor

In 2020, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recognized Dorceta Taylor as one of six people continuing the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her work goes beyond research in urban agriculture and food access and expands into activism in diversity and workforce dynamics in the environmental sector. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist who is also an expert in instigating dance parties, according to her website. She is the co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab (a non-profit think tank), co-founder of the climate initiative “The All We Can Save Project”, and podcast “How to Save a Planet”. She has developed U.S. Federal ocean policy at the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She is an experienced public speaker; you can find her TED Talks on her website or YouTube.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Ruleo Camacho

Ruleo Camacho is a marine ecologist passionate about coral reef health. His projects include studying herbivores on coral reefs, assessing seagrass, and writing Environmental Impact Statements to assist with development projects like coral restoration. He also educates the public about the truths and misconceptions about lionfish invasion and how to manage their populations. Camacho is currently the Marine Ecologist at the National Parks Authority.

Taylor, Johnson, Camacho, and many others are distinguished examples of why it is vital to celebrate scientists and Black History Month. Their efforts and passions inspire future generations to continue the great work of caring for our living planet.


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