Charting New Waters: 4 BIPOC Marine Scientists To Watch In 2024

It's no secret that our oceans are under immense threat. With melting glaciers, over polluted waters, and rising sea levels, it's easy to feel a sense of foreboding or climate anxiety. But amidst those feelings of uncertainty, there's still a glimmer of hope. Meet four remarkable marine scientists who are not only at the forefront of creating a sustainable future for our oceans but also redefining the demographic landscape of their field. 


Dr. Ayanna Elizabeth Johnson 

Meet Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist, author, and policy expert who has been a trailblazer from the start. This Brooklyn native co-founded Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for the future of coastal cities, and played a pivotal role in crafting the Blue New Deal, a roadmap to integrating oceans into climate policy. 

Dr. Johnson is a driving force behind climate communication, earning her the Schneider Award, and her leadership roles at the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showcase her commitment to impactful policy change. With her consulting firm, Ayana Elizabeth Consulting, Dr. Johnson works toward advancing ocean sustainability and conservation measures that prioritize social justice. When she's not busy saving our oceans, Dr. Johnson is a self-proclaimed dance party organizer and jazz singer! 

TED Talk - ‘A Love Story for the Coral Reef Crisis’. (Photo by: Ryan Lash/TED. 2019)

Vriko Yu

The ambitious Vriko Yu has been recognized by publications such as Forbes, CNN, and the World Economic Forum for her startup, Arichireef, which the marine biologist launched while studying for her Ph.D. Archireef is a climate tech company that works to restore fragile marine ecosystems (save the turtles!) with the power of 3D printing technology and science. According to Yu, active restoration is just as crucial as other climate initiatives, and Archireef is her cutting-edge solution. 

Vriko Yu, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Archireef, Hong Kong SAR, China speaking in the 30x30 Ambition. (Source: World Economic Forum/Manuel Lopez)

Melissa Cristina Marquez 

Dare to meet the "Mother of Sharks," Melissa Cristina Márquez? The nickname stems from the marine biologist's expertise in sharks. You could say she's on a mission to help share her affinity for sea creatures, as much of her work includes using her research to help influence more positive attitudes towards marine predators and conservation initiatives. 

She founded The Fins United Initiative, a program that teaches audiences shark conservation and education. You can watch her TEDx talk on YouTube, "Sharks & Female Scientists: More Alike Than You Think."

Mother of Sharks by Melissa Cristina Marquez

Dr. Tiara Moore

Dr. Tiara Moore, the vibrant force behind Black In Marine Science (BIMS), is a trailblazer committed to reshaping the marine science landscape. She earned her Ph.D. from UCLA, specializing in the impacts of human nutrient pollution on water quality and biodiversity. As the Founder and CEO of BIMS, Dr. Moore pioneered #BlackinMarineScienceWeek, evolving it into a thriving nonprofit with global impact. 

Her groundbreaking research, funded by over $8 million in NSF grants, addresses environmental challenges and fosters racial equity in marine science. Recognized in Vogue Magazine and SCUBA Diving Magazine, Dr. Moore continues to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion, earning the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation's prestigious award.

(Source: Parley for the Oceans)

As we celebrate these inspiring BIPOC marine scientists, let their stories propel you into action. Whether it's supporting organizations like Black In Marine Science, advocating for sustainable policies, or simply diving deeper into marine science literature, let's each do our part in safeguarding our oceans.