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Institute for Broadening Participation opens UTA office

Ashanti Johnson
Ashanti Johnson

The Institute for Broadening Participation, a nonprofit organization to help increase minority access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and careers, has opened a regional office at The University of Texas at Arlington.

Ashanti Johnson, executive director of the Maine-based institute, will office in the College of Science about 40 percent of her time.

"I'm looking forward to working here and with The University of Texas at Arlington," said Johnson, who graduated from Dallas' School for the Talented and Gifted before going to Texas A&M University-Galveston. "I believe the move will help extend the institute's reach in the western part of the country."

Johnson earned her doctorate in oceanography from Texas A&M University and her bachelor's degree in marine science from Texas A&M University-Galveston. She was the first African-American student body president at TAMU-Galveston. She also is one of the first female African-American chemical oceanographers in the country, and the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree in oceanography from TAMU.

"I remember working as a volunteer at the Dallas Aquarium like it was yesterday," Johnson said. "That's when I decided I wanted a career in science or something like that. That's why I have such a passion for getting underrepresented groups involved in the STEM fields."

In addition to her institute duties, Johnson also will be a faculty research associate in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department.

"Having Dr. Johnson and the Institute for Broadening Participation on the UT Arlington campus will lend important support to efforts we're already making to attract students from historically underrepresented groups to STEM fields," said Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science. "From summer camps to National Science Foundation-funded programs for undergraduates and graduate students, the University is committed to helping meet the need for qualified scientists and engineers with a more diverse workforce."

Philip Cohen, vice provost of academic affairs and UT Arlington Graduate School dean, said the partnership would strengthen doctoral student support.

"Working with Dr. Johnson and the institute will help UT Arlington increase its external funding for doctoral student support and innovative practices in graduate education," Cohen said. "The partnership also will increase the number of minority students who earn doctorates in science and engineering, and then go on to productive careers in academia, business and industry."