I am currently a Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences and the Director of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Formerly, I was a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Founding Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at Howard University. I taught at Howard University for over twenty years and had the pleasure of mentoring nearly 200 students and postdoctoral fellows during that time. Over 150 of those students were students of color (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, North African, or Asian/Pacific Islander). About forty of those students were graduate students in Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Physics, and Biology. Over thirty others were mentored as high school or undergraduates who went on to attain their advanced degrees in STEM elsewhere.
Mentoring students and working to ensure that the future of the scientific community is truly inclusive has been a longstanding professional goal. To this end, I work with a number of professional organizations, federal agencies, and academic institutions to promote equitable access to science literacy, lower social barriers to STEM careers, and increase exposure and availability of educational opportunities for students coming from backgrounds who have historically been excluded or face challenges due to racism, prejudice, or social disadvantages. To this end, I am also the Founding Director of the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology (NCAS-M). This research center implements a number of programs ranging from community science tests to postdoctoral fellowships with the aim of building a diverse and inclusive geosciences community through efforts to train, educate, an develop scholars with an emphasis on attracting and retaining talented students of color.
My research interests are broad but primarily focus on the physical and chemical transformations and behavior of atmospheric particulate in the Earth’s lower atmosphere. Specific projects include aerobiology in megacities, physico-chemical processing of Saharan dust aerosols during long range transport, and the influence of mineral dust aerosols on human health. I am also interested in urban air quality both from a phenomenological standpoint; understanding the key chemical transformations and chemistry, and from an environmental justice (EJ) standpoint; how can this knowledge be used to counter environmental racism and systemic toxic exposures.
A large portion of my research is field research; deploying instrumentation from stationary sites such as rooftop platforms and towers, aboard research vessels, mounted on mobile platforms, and more recently my group has been exploring the use of micro-sensors for air quality and EJ studies using drones. One of my major research projects is the AEROsols and Ocean Science Expeditions (AEROSE). This is a research cruise that takes place on an almost annual basis that seeks to track and characterize Saharan dust storms that move off the west coast of Africa and travel across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, These cruises are highly multidisciplinary and involve partners from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a number of academic partners – both US and international.
I graduated with undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics from Morehouse College (Go Maroon Tigers!) and later earned my PhD from Georgia Tech in Geophysical Sciences. I completed postdoctoral study at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California Davis.