February is Black History Month, an annual observance during which we celebrate Black history and culture and honor the ongoing triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout U.S. history.

Many Black and African American scientists have left their mark on the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Read on to learn more about a few of those accomplished scientists.

Dr. Marguerite Thomas Williams

Dr. Marguerite Thomas Williams is the first Black person to receive a doctorate in geology in the United States. She received her doctoral degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  She went on to become a professor at the University of the District of Columbia and later the university's Chair of the Division of Geography.

Dr. Randolph Wilson Bromery

By the time he received his doctorate in geology from Johns Hopkins University in 1968, geologist Dr. Randolph Wilson Bromery was already a well-published author, with over 80 scientific publications in geology and geophysics. In 1969 he joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was later promoted to Chancellor in 1971. He was only the second African American to lead a predominantly white campus, and the first in the Northeast. He later became the President of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in 1989.

Dr. Mack Gipson Jr.

Dr. Mack Gipson Jr was the first Black man to obtain a doctoral degree in geology in the United States. He received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1963. He went on to work in the field for many years, founded the geology department at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), and joined the University of South Carolina as a professor of geology in 1986.

Dr. Gladys West

Dr. Gladys West earned her master's degree from Virginia State University in 1955 and started off her career teaching mathematics in racially segregated schools in Virginia. Her contributions to modeling the shape of the Earth while working with the US Navy (1956-1998) led to the development of the Global Position System, or GPS.