Dr. Ayana Elizabeth JohnsonFounder of Urban Ocean Lab and co-founder of The All We Can Save Project Brooklyn, NY Award Year: 2020
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native who is on a mission to build community around solutions to our climate crisis. She is the Founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities, and is the co-creator and co-host of the Spotify/Gimlet podcast How to Save a Planet. With Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, she co-edited the anthology All We Can Save, and co-founded The All We Can Save Project. Recently, she co-authored the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. Previously, she was Executive Director of the Waitt Institute, developed policy at the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, served as a leader of the March for Science, and taught as an adjunct professor at New York University. Dr. Johnson earned a BA from Harvard University in environmental science and public policy and a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in Marine Biology. She publishes widely, including in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and TIME, and she blogs on Scientific American. She was named one of Elle’s 27 Women Leading on Climate. Outside Magazine called her “the most influential marine biologist of our time.”
Dr. Johnson used her award to hire a chief of staff, which has allowed her to increase her own productivity and to co-launch the Ocean Justice Forum, consisting of ocean conservation groups that are jointly developing a federal policy agenda that puts justice at the center.
In June, she testified before Congress, sharing her expertise on the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act with the House Natural Resources Committee.