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Vernon Morris, a climate scientist and professor at Arizona State University, has been encouraging underrepresented students to enter a field that needs them.

Vernon Morris, a climate scientist and professor at Arizona State University, has been encouraging underrepresented students to enter a field that needs them.

Photographer: Marissa Leshnov/Bloomberg

What Climate Science Loses Without Enough Black Researchers

With calls to address racism echoing around the profession, scientists are remaking institutions that have excluded people of color.  

Vernon Morris had often felt invisible in a profession defined by observation. As a climate scientist, he's encountered racist behavior at every level of his field.

Feelings of isolation marked his early days analyzing atmospheric ozone chemistry, with virtually no Black peers. Morris has weathered groundless police harassment, and repeatedly been mistaken for a janitor when working at NASA decades ago as a grad student. He was once stopped at a science conference, despite wearing a speaker name badge, as he made his way to the podium to give a speech. And Morris has felt the sting of everyday slights, such as when White scientists and students go out of their way to avoid eye contact.