Student & Alumni Spotlight

Autumn McNeil

Junior Environmental Studies Major; Biology Minor

Autumn McNeill is a Junior at Howard University. She is currently studying Environmental Studies and Sociology with a minor in Biology. Last year, Autumn attended the 6th Annual HBCU Climate Change Conference in New Orleans, LA. There she gave an oral presentation about her research on how public awareness and media coverage impact a community’s ability to receive resources, to combat the lead contamination of their drinking water. This research was done under the guidance of Dr. Rubin Patterson. While there, she also competed in a research poster competition where she placed 3rd for her work. Autumn has also presented her research this past November at the ABRCMS 2019 in Indianapolis, IN. She looks forward to graduating this year from the Environmental Studies program and cannot wait to share her knowledge with the world!

While at Howard University, Autumn has conducted bio-remediation research in the SEA-Phages program and studied bacterial isolates with Dr. Courtney Robinson. She has interned at the Ecological Society of America during the Spring of 2018 and with Senator Harris in her San Francisco office during the Summer of 2018. Autumn is currently interning with Washington Parks and People as their first ever Events Management Intern. 

Caleb J. Edwards

Environmental Studies Major; Legal Communications Minor

Caleb is an Environmental Studies major and Legal Communications minor, who is eager to solve the mysteries of nature! A native of Hampton Roads, in Tidewater Virginia, Caleb enjoys water sports and snowboarding, designing and shooting model rockets, and spending time at water parks and amusement parks. Caleb is working, in and out of school, to become an International Attorney and an Environmental Research Filmmaker. 

Having served as an intern with the Missouri Botanical Gardens EarthWays Center for Sustainability and the National Park Service, Caleb has developed quite the, "green thumb"! During his most recent internship, which was provided through Dr. Burke and Dr. Patterson's administration, he recorded data on the development and decline of plant species in the National Parks of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Also, Caleb took hold of the opportunity to review and discuss congressional established policies that the National Park Service's several regions adhere to.

Mya D. Wells

Sophomore Biology Major; Chemistry & Environmental Studies Double Minor

Mya Wells is a Sophomore Biology major, Chemistry and Environmental Studies double minor from Cincinnati, OH. Throughout her time at Howard University, Mya has gained clinical and research experiences that will be a steppingstone to her career. She is currently receiving clinical experience as a volunteer at Howard University Hospital. Under the mentorship of Elena Reece, MD, Chief of Allergy & Immunology, she has had the opportunity to observe the following clinical procedures: lung function testing, allergy skin testing, and allergy injections. Mya has participated in the SEA-PHAGES Honors Research Program at Howard University where her research aims to isolate, purify, and characterize a bacteriophage sample. Mya is also currently involved in the LSAMP program where, under the mentorship of Janelle Burke, PhD, she is leading a research project to examine air pollution in urban areas and its effects on rates of asthma and allergic disease.

Mya has been honored with the GEAR-UP International Research Award, where she will travel to Ghana this summer to conduct scientific research. Additionally this summer, Mya has been accepted into the inaugural cohort of the three-year Global Sustainability Scholars Program at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she will travel to Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom to focus on identifying innovative solutions to environmental problems and sustainability. These
opportunities will allow Mya to launch the next stage of her professional career in clinical practice and research. 

She has an unwavering commitment to reducing health disparities by addressing environmental social determinants of health. Mya’s vision is to not only become a physician, but also to conduct research to examine underlying environmental causes on poor health outcomes in under-served communities.

Elijah Catalan

Junior Biology & Environmental Studies Double Major

Presently, Elijah works under Dr. George Middendorf in Howard’s Department of Biology, conducting research on airborne particulate matter in DC and how differences across neighborhoods may constitute as an environmental justice issue. He has presented this research at conferences at Xavier University, Howard University, and Virginia State University. Elijah is also participating in a conservation science internship with The Wilderness Society where he will be developing an original research project on unequal access to wilderness in Washington, DC using GIS mapping technology. Elijah is also currently participating in an internship with NASA Goddard where he will be assisting in numerical model development and simulation of planetary exospheres. 

Upon his graduation, Elijah plans to pursue a PhD in Ecology or Marine Biology. He wants to pursue a career in which he can protect the environment, especially in ways that safeguard disadvantaged communities from environmental conditions which often affect poor and minority communities first and worst.

Elijah Catalan is a Junior, Biology and Environmental Studies double major from Cincinnati, Ohio. Elijah holds a 3.65 cumulative GPA and has a passion for environmental issues and scientific research. This summer, Elijah became an AAUS certified scientific SCUBA diver and conducted original research on coral reef ecosystems in Mo’orea, French Polynesia through UCLA.