As Black History Month comes to a close, we want to highlight organizations that support Black scientists and awesome people who are leading the way in breaking down systemic barriers through their work.
It’s important to realize that Black people and most other minorities have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields. According to a report from the National Science Foundation in 2021, Black people only comprise about 9% of the STEM workforce. So, what are some ways this might change in the future?
In recent years, many organizations have been created for and by Black people to show that everyone deserves to do science and be part of the wonder and excitement intrinsic to science. Below are just a few organizations and people who are paving the way for more diversity and inclusion and inclusion in STEM.
Dr. Wright is an oceanographer and mapper. She’s known for her groundbreaking work in seafloor mapping and has advanced the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through her work at ESRI. Last year, she became the first Black person to visit the deepest point on Earth. To learn more about Dr. Wright, look at this feature put out by ESRI here.
Inka Cresswell is a wildlife filmmaker and photographer who showcases all the ocean has to offer. Her film “My 25: The Ocean Between Us” has been selected for several film festivals and won the Brighton Rocks Film Festival. Creswell is also involved with ocean conservation and hosts a vlog on YouTube.
Moronke Harris is a graduate student who is studying hydrothermal vents, with a passion for Science Communication. She’s passionate about combining art, storytelling and science in her brand called The Imaginative Scientist. Last year, we featured her on the Oceanbites podcast, and you can listen to the episode here.
There are so many more amazing Black scientists doing incredible work around the world. If you’re curious about Black Marine scientists throughout history, check out this post. To expand your awareness even more, check out this feature on a few other inspiring Black explorers from Nautilus Live.
Black Girls Dive – this organization is focused on introducing Black women to marine science and providing opportunities to learn skill associated with being a marine scientist.
Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation – this organization is funded by the NSF, has chapters at universities all over the US, and is focused on supporting minority students pursuing a STEM degree. A map of institutions with active LSAMP chapters can be found here.
Black in Marine Science – this group provides a place for Black marine scientists to connect and share their love of the ocean. Each year, they host a week-long outreach campaign focused on encouraging each other and promoting visibility of Black marine scientists.
Black In X – this organization is an umbrella network that connects Black people in a multitude of different fields. For Black people, sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one in your field. This is a great tool for connecting with others who may be feeling the same way.
SFS Instars and Emerge – this program is hosted by the Society for Freshwater Science, and focuses on getting underrepresented minorities involved in freshwater science research.
Minorities in Shark Sciences – this group provides opportunities for underrepresented minorities to learn more about the ocean and conservation. They provide training, mentorship and summer camps for their members.
Don’t miss out on these other inclusive organizations in another great post by Nautilus Live.
While these people and organizations are great to learn about for Black History Month, it’s also important that they’re not forgotten for the other 11 months of the year. In order to build a more inclusive society, we have to be committed to breaking down the barriers that cause minorities to be underrepresented in the workforce. It’s a process that will take time and a lot of cooperation, but the end goal will make science accessible to everyone.
I recently graduated with a degree in Environmental Earth Science and Sustainability from Miami University of Ohio, and I recently started my MSc at the University of Victoria. While my undergraduate research focused on biogeochemical cycles in lakes and streams, I am excited to pursue my MSc in the El-Sabaawi Lab and explore how urbanization might impact fisheries. In my free time, I love to travel to somewhere off the beaten path, read fantasy novels, try new recipes, and plan my next trip to the ocean.