Our Team


Dr. Fatimah Jackson, Director

Dr. Fatimah L.C. Jackson received her PhD, MA, and BA (cum laude with Distinction in all subjects) from Cornell University. She has conducted research on, and is particularly interested in the study of human-plant coevolution, particularly the influence of phytochemicals on human metabolic effects and evolutionary processes and in population substructure in peoples of African descent. She is recognized for developing ethnogenetic layering as a computational tool to identify human microethnic groups in complex heterogeneous populations and their differential expressions of health disparities. Trained as a human biologist, Dr. Jackson has published extensively in such journals as Human BiologyBiochemical Medicine and Metabolic Biology, the American Journal of Human Biology, andthe Journal of the National Medical Association, among others. Her research has been funded by USAID, the Ford Foundation, the Huber Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the NIH (NIMHD and NHGRI), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the EPA. She has been a Fulbright Senior Fellow. She won the Nick Norgan Award in 2009 for the Best Article Published inAnnals of Human Biology, and in 2012 was the first recipient of the Ernest E. Just Prize in Medical and Public Health Research, Avery Research Institute, College of Charleston and Medical University of South Carolina (University of South Carolina). In 2012, she was also Coined by Rear Admiral Dr. Helena Mishoe, National Institutes of Health, NHLBI and US Public Health Service. Dr. Jackson has taught widely, mentored a large number of students, and is now Director of the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory at Howard University, the largest collection of African American skeletal and dental remains in the world (covering 400 years of African American biological history). In 2017 Howard University named her STEM Woman Researcher of the Year and she received the Outstanding Service Award from the Department of Biology, where she is a professor.

Carter Clinton

Assistant Curator, Doctoral Student

Mr. Carter Clinton is a third-year doctoral student in the department of Biology and a graduate researcher in the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology research from Benedict College looking at genetic engineering in medicine and the pharmacodynamics of traditional medicine on humans. Currently at Howard, Carter’s research focuses on the retrieval of human aDNA and bacterial DNA of the New York African Burial Ground to understand the genomic variation and evolutionary processes of these peoples. The outcome of this research will lead to the creation of a reference genomic database for this historic population to be available for data mining and expand the presence of African descended peoples in genome-wide association studies. Ultimately, Carter’s interests include tracing the evolutionary history of populations of African descent to better observe disease susceptibility.



IMG_4982 (1).jpg

Gretchen Johnson

Doctoral Candidate, Graduate Researcher

Gretchen Johnson (gretchj@gmail.com) is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biology at Howard University and a graduate researcher in the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab. She is conducting research for her doctoral dissertation on the historic Liberated African population discovered on St. Helena Island who were liberated by British anti-slavery efforts but subsequently died on the island. Valuable history, legacy and the opportunity to preserve one of the only remaining historical Liberated African populations of the transatlantic slave trade will be fulfilled in her research. Follow her research on St. Helena Island by visiting www.journeytosthelena.com

Ms. Johnson earned her Master of Science degrees in Forensic Science and Medical Science from Boston University School of Medicine; Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Also, Ms. Johnson is a recipient of National Geographic’s Explorer Grant and is a Just-Julian Fellow. Her main areas of research and expertise include Forensic Genetics, DNA Analyses and Molecular Biology. Outside of academia, Ms. Johnson enjoys playing the violin, piano, other artistic endeavors and traveling.

-BioPicture - Mariam.jpg

Mariam Mohammed

Post-Baccalaureate Researcher 

Ms. Mariam N. Mohammed is a first-generation Moroccan-American, first-generation college graduate, and native of Washington, DC with a passion for the arts and aspiration of becoming a medical doctor. Her favorite courses growing up were in the humanities and sciences, particularly art classes and AP Biology in high school. In 2008, she was awarded the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship and attended The George Washington University on her academic merits. She graduated in the spring of 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and a minor in Public Health. Upon graduation, she found work as a medical scribe in Maryland’s second busiest Emergency Department. She gained experience in adult and pediatric emergency medicine working alongside doctors and physician assistants. Two years later, she was promoted to Project Leader and tasked to travel the country to implement new medical scribe programs on behalf of ScribeAmerica, LLC. She established a brand new staff of scribes for inpatient, outpatient, and emergency departments in a wide variety of specialties for clients of UnityPoint Health, Houston Methodist Hospitals, Yale New Haven Health System, and White Plains Hospital of New York. To refocus her efforts on the track to medical school, Mariam returned to Washington, DC in 2016 and began taking courses at Howard University and joined the W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory. She is a member of the laboratory’s Writer’s Collective, where she is an author for the Backbones to Life children’s storybook series. In addition to creative writing, her hobbies include drawing and painting. She has showcased and sold her art at local events in the Washington, DC area and hopes to continue developing her creativity while pursuing a career in medicine.

Victor Owoseni

Undergraduate Researcher

  Mr. Adetomiwa Victor Owoseni (aowoseni6261@gmail.com) is currently a senior undergraduate student at Howard University. As a Biology major and English minor, his career goals lie in practicing medicine while bridging those two subjects to educate and inform the non-scientific public of relevant scientific developments. He has participated as a Summer Undergraduate Research Program fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, investigating the role specific epigenetic enzymes play in myeloid malignancy development, and has worked with the Genomics Education Partnership to annotate the Drosophila elegans 4th “dot” chromosome. For his work in the Cobb Research Lab, he has recently been named a Louis Stokes Alliance Minority Participation scholar. In addition to scientific ventures, Adetomiwa also pursues his writing interest heavily, participating in multiple creative writing workshops, acting as the head blog content creator for Abundant Life Christian Center Winners House, and publishing his first short story entitled “An Unspoken Exchange” at Jellyfish Review literary journal. Adetomiwa currently co-leads the Cobb Writing Collective, which weaves the scientific details of skeletal material from the Cobb Collection and New York African Burial Ground with historical accuracies from the appropriate time periods to create fictionalized and feasible stories portraying the lives of African-Americans. Adetomiwa believes that educating the African-American community, especially children, about their history will help produce more capable, self-aware leaders for tomorrow.


Nicholas Guthrie

Graduate Researcher, Former Webmaster

Mr. Nicholas Guthrie  (nicholasguthrie@outlook.com) is currently a Second-Year Medical Student at Howard University College of Medicine, who received his B.S. in Biology from Howard University. Hailing from from Silver Spring, Maryland, his research work includes; studies in bacterial viruses with PHAGES at Howard University, novel drug delivery systems using Zeolites at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and most recently enzymatic studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. He was a Louis Stokes Alliance Minority Program Scholar and is listed as a co-Author on ‘Whole genome comparison of a large collection of mycobacteriophages reveals a continuum of phage genetic diversity,’ published in eLife.  Nicholas served 2 years as a teaching assistant for the honors biology classes (PHAGES) and a research mentor for those undergraduate students. He also served as the webmaster on the staff of the CRL for the past 4 years, building and updating their site frequently. Furthermore, he is the producer of The Backbone, a scholarly journal published from the Cobb Lab twice each year. Outside of academia, he enjoys both theater production and the discus throw, currently a track and field coach for his Alma Mater at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 4.04.48 AM.png

Whitney Griffith


Webmaster, Undergraduate Researcher

Ms. Whitney Griffith (whitney.griffith@bison.howard.edu) is currently a Junior, Computer Science major, concentration in Computational Biology at Howard University. She has done research on "The Correlation Between African-American Life Experiences and Type 2 Diabetes" based on the Cobb Collection. Also, she is currently working on "The Establishment of the Cobb Research Lab's Information System", a project geared towards optimizing the research done within the lab through bar coding technology, cloud solutions and graphic user interfaces. The Comprehensive Information System is packaged in the form of a mobile application, available in the App Store and Google Play. She is a recent inductee in Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the only Computing and Information International Honor Society, where, she will be serving as the 2017-2018 Treasurer. She is passionate about combining medicine and technology. Aside from this, her other passion is soccer and the steel pan, the national musical instrument of Trinidad and Tobago.


Obinna Asawabelem

Undergraduate Researcher

Mr. Obinna Asawabelem is currently a senior undergraduate student at Howard University. He has recently transferred to Howard University to pursue a double major in both Biology and African-American studies. He is also a Louis Stokes Alliance Minority Participation Scholar working in the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab. As an undergraduate researcher he was previously involved with bacterial genetics research under the mentorship of Dr. Karl Thompson. Now through the Cobb Research Lab, he is coordinating workshops to collect DNA samples from individuals of African descent and obtaining information on their ancestry and health. The research goal of the DNA collection is to build the first African Diaspora Genomic Database and to raise community awareness about ancestry in addition to its role in precision medicine. Mr. Obinna has also recently been appointed to serve as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for Biological Anthropology and Human Evolution. On a path of self discovery, he intends to practice medicine and serve communities by improving health outcomes for people of the African diaspora, primarily those afflicted with diseases like Sickle Cell Anemia. 

Learn about the many others who work with the CRL at our Collaborators page!