Alumna Dr. LaToya Myles makes history with historic promotion at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

An Alcorn State University alumna breaks barriers with her historic promotion at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Dr. LaToya Myles ’99 is the first woman and the first Black person to serve as the director of the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division of NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory. In her new role, Myle’s priority is providing leadership and coordination for atmospheric boundary layer research programs that include dispersion, atmospheric chemistry, and climate observations and analyses that support NOAA’s mission of science, service, and stewardship.

Upon being promoted, the first group of people Myles thought about was her family. She’s thankful for their support and encouragement that has fueled her success in her career.

“My first thoughts were about the continuous support and encouragement that I receive from my family,” said Myles. “They are always my priority, and my husband and children understand my work and travel (pre-pandemic) schedule.”

Being the first in her position is the ideal scenario for Myles to show other Black female scientists what heights they can reach on their journeys.

“As a Black woman, I’m passionate about how to get interested individuals to pursue careers in science. It is difficult to dream about a career if you don’t see someone doing it, particularly if you don’t see someone with the identity and characteristics you have in the field.”

The promotion is a testament to Myles's commitment to science and leadership.

“My promotion means that my dedication as a scientist and my skills as a leader have been recognized and valued.”

Myles is one of many African American scientists calling for diversity in STEM fields. She said that hiring minorities from various backgrounds would add new and exciting perspectives to scientific research.

“Diversity in the STEM community and geosciences, in particular, is essential because it drives innovative thinking, offers new perspectives, and creates better teams that can address environmental changes that are happening across the world and our communities.”

The education she received at Alcorn is something Myles credits for her current success. She is a proud Alcornite.

“I’m a second-generation Alcornite. My father always speaks highly of the preparation that Alcorn provides students. Also, my husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and brother are Alcornites, so Alcorn has been pivotal in our lives. When I was a student, Dr. Troy Steward, and Dr. Joseph Russell, both professors in the Department of Chemistry and Physics, were instrumental in my undergraduate education and my decision to pursue a doctorate in environmental sciences. Alcorn has been my foundation for lifelong learning.”