Michelle Samuel-Foo was born in the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago and was one of 7 children born to Radica and Winston Samuel. Her parents did slash and burn agriculture on their small plot in Sangre Grande Trinidad; and this was her first introduction to the world of plants and insects.
After completing high school in Trinidad, Michelle was the recipient of an academic scholarship which allowed her to attend Brewton-Parker College in Mt Vernon, GA. She completed her BS in Biology in 2000 (Summa Cum Laude} in just 2.5 years. After graduation she attended the University of Georgia (UGA) where she earned her MS in Agronomy (2003) working with Hessian Fly in Wheat. She remained at UGA for her doctoral studies and worked on soybean insect pest management under the tutelage of Dr. John All and Roger Boerma. She graduated with her PhD in Entomology in 2008.
Michelle moved to Florida to take a faculty position with the Institute of Food and Agriculture Services in the Food and Environmental toxicological lab at the University of Florida (UF) after graduate school. She served as the IR-4 Southern Region Coordinator while domiciled at UF. The IR-4 project is the specialty crop pesticide registration unit that focuses on procuring chemical registrations for growers of specialty crops. Her domain covered 12 southern states (FL, GA, AR, SC, NC, KY, MS, LA, TX, OK, TN, VA) plus the territory of Puerto Rico.
While at UF, she established and oversaw regional field research offices at the University of Florida-Citra center, UF tropical research center Homestead, TX A&M Weslaco, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, North Carolina State University, Raleigh and University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. At each of these centers she had to train staff and faculty in Good Laboratory Practices (GLPs) to be able to conduct field residue trials that would develop data to be submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency to set tolerances for new uses. Her work with IR-4 helped achieve over 1000 registrations for specialty crop growers in the Southern US.
She joined the faculty at Alabama State University in January of 2018 as an assistant professor where she engages in teaching, research and student mentoring. Despite being new to the institution in June 2019, she was selected by the University administration to lead their initiative into Industrial Hemp research and was the recipient of a~ $596, 000 grant to building infrastructure and develop programming at ASU for this endeavor.
Michelle received an official commendation from the IR-4 Southern Regional Director in 2008 for outstanding service and leadership of the IR-4 Southern Region program. She has been the recipient of several other honors, including being the first minority woman to be president elect of the South Eastern Brach of ESA and first black female to lead the International Association or Black Entomologists. She has also been the recipient of an NAACP Academic Image Award. A NACTA teaching award and in 2012 was honored by the Trinidad and Tobago Consulate General for achievement in Natural Sciences.