Maggie Burnette Stogner Professor SOC - School of Communication

Maggie Burnette Stogner is the Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking (www.environmentalfilm.org) and a professor of Film and Media Arts. She brings over 30 years of filmmaking


  (202) 885-2160

Leena Jayaswal Professor SOC - School of Communication

Leena Jayaswal is a documentary filmmaker, award-winning photographer and Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington DC, where she is the director of the new BA in P


  (202) 885-2662

Larry Engel Assoc Professor SOC - School of Communication

With more than 40 years of teaching and filmmaking, and 250 projects, his documentaries appear on PBS, the Discovery Channels, and National Geographic, among many other outlets. Awards include a Dayti


  (202) 885-2688

Sarah Menke-Fish Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning SOC - School of Communication

Sarah Menke-Fish is a full-time professor of Film and Media Arts. She serves as Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning and Associate Director for the Center for Environmental Filmmaking. Menke-Fish l


  (202) 885-2026

Krzysztof Pietroszek Assoc Professor SOC - School of Communication

Dr. Pietroszek is an Associate Professor in the Film and Media Arts Division of the School of Communication. He is the Founding Director of the Institute for Immersive Designs, Experiences, Applicatio


Larry Kirkman

Larry Kirkman

Science Communication Consultant

Larry Kirkman is professor emeritus, Film and Media Arts, and dean emeritus, School of Communication, American University. He is director of the Science Communication Lab in the Center for Environmental Filmmaking.

Email: larry@american.edu
Phone: (202) 262-9230


Research Fellow

Leah Mahan

Award-winning independent documentary filmmaker Leah Mahan will work with the Center this year on new initiatives such as the Diversity & Impact workshop and evening program during the DC-Environmental Film (March 22nd) and Filmmaker Resources including a case study of her powerful documentary “Come Hell or Highwater: The Battle for Turkey Creek.” Leah’s work has been nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and has been supported by Sundance, ITVS, Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 

CEF Campus Ambassador (2021-2022)

Jenna Sittler

Jenna Sittler is a Senior student of American University with a Major in Film and Media Arts and a Minor in Graphic Design. On-campus, she a Communications Manager for American University Television. Her love for the environment stems from attending Middle School on a farm, where she gained real-world experience in agriculture, biochemistry, and biology. This early exposure stirred Jenna's interest in Environmental Justice. She loves to tell stories that encourage people to appreciate and respect the planet.


Graduate Assisants and CEF Scholars


Katy Grossman is a second year MFA candidate studying Art in Entertainment. An aspiring Writer/Director, she is especially interested in exploring extraordinary stories about ordinary people. Katy likes reading, playing Dungeons & Dragons, and going on long walks in the snow.

Alvan Obichie is a first year MA Graduate Student of Film and Media Production. Alvan is an International Student from Nigeria and loves to tell stories that explore the lives of everyday people. Alvan is a fiction and nonfiction storyteller and likes to think of himself as a walking question mark.

Philip Bouknight is a first year MFA Graduate Student in Film and Media Arts, with a concentration in Documentary Film, emphasizing political, cultural, and social change.  Phil has always been interested in sharing stories that challenge the perception of marginalized communities and socially oppressed cultures.  Phil’s documentary works highlight the rising infant mortality rate in Haiti, the growing problem of gentrification in the City of Miami, and now, through American University’s Humanities Truck project, Ward 8’s battle against Climate Change, and Environmental Racism.

Ja’Von Hill is an Independent Filmmaker, aspiring Television writer and Showrunner. Ja'Von was born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is an MFA candidate at American University’s School of Communication with a Major in Film and Media Production, and a concentration in Arts and Entertainment. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Multimedia Journalism from Morgan State University. Her mission as a filmmaker is to write lead roles for Black women, create shows and films centering Black and queer experiences, and establish more opportunities for BIPOC and queer folks in the film industry overall. Likewise, Ja'Von plans to establish film schools at HBCUs and update the few underfunded film programs that currently exist. As an HBCU alumna, Ja’Von understands the rich education HBCUs have but the lack of resources they receive. Therefore, she aspires to give HBCU students access to filmmaking knowledge and resources while creating safe spaces for them to craft and produce their stories.

Previous CEF Scholars

Crystal Berg

Crystal's thesis documentary will explore climate-induced polar/grizzly bear hybridization in the Canadian Arctic. Working alongside biologists and local guides, this film sets out to examine this rare, yet growing phenomenon, and what is means for the future of polar bears. 

Robert Boyd

Robert's producing a short documentary about the abundant microbial growth, flourishing in kitchens and bathrooms, due to water wastefulness. His film, Table to Toilet: Fueling a Microbial Bonfire, will hold a microscopic mirror up to viewers, showing them the immediate, and close to home effects, of their wasteful water usage.

Mary Alice Mcmillan

Mary Alice McMillan is an MFA candidate in American University’s Film and Media Arts program. A North Carolina native, she is passionate about stories of rural America and the intersection between the environment and health. She is developing her thesis film about breast cancer-related genetic disorders and the role that environmental factors play in the study of genetics. Mary Alice hopes to pursue a career as an independent documentary filmmaker and share stories to create positive change.


Jay has a particular interest in relatively unexplored aesthetic approach to photography and filming.

Jay's project, ALL RED: Great Falls National Park is an experimental environmental short film that examines Great Falls National Park solely through the use of the infrared spectrum. It is the first infrared experimental/environmental film recorded with a raw video codec using a dedicated infrared cinema camera.


As Shannon is working on her thesis film, simple and clear is not enough. SCICOMM: Raising Our Voice for Science in Public Policy will show what scientists deduce to be the next step in communicating science, why it is important and why it has to be different.

Ashley Luke

Ashley's producing a short documentary about the climate refugees of Louisiana's bayou. An area still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Katrina more than 10 years later caused alarming displacement of the coastal region. The documentary will examine how these refugees have adapted to the natural and manmade threats to their environment.