Belay Demoz, Professor and Director of the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET)

“I’m where I am today because of mentorship and dedication by so many that assumed that I could make it even when I thought otherwise. I derive my commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion from that experience. That experience of change through mentorship shaped my approach to research excellence and education. For the last 25 years, I have been involved in diversifying my chosen field of atmospheric science research through graduate and undergraduate student mentorship through partnership (see and and/or advocating and nudging my professional colleagues to diversify via a call to action or through quiet advocacy ( for anti-racist science, and infusing research programs with exposure to diverse excellence. In my field the gains in diversifying the field are few and slow but the reward is sweeter.

One of my active current projects, Student Airborne Science Activation (SaSa – a Swahili word meaning “the time is now”) is funded by the NASA to increase exposure of airborne research and NASA to the underserved community. SaSa is a UMBC collaboration with Morgan State University, Coppin State University, UMES, Howard University and Hampton University for a yearlong engagement with undergraduate students, and an intensive summer research based at UMBC but in collaboration with the HBCU partners.

My goal of changing the numbers of underrepresented professionals in my field has been a long struggle of mine. Small and focused efforts do make a difference. Our partnership with NOAA (through Howard University and City College of New York) has dramatically changed the number of Black and underrepresented minority PhDs. But the numbers are still woeful and the work continues. I contribute to right this underrepresentation through inclusive excellence in research and mentorship.”