USJ’s Shanelle Haughton ’16 and Hartford Native Earns Prestigious National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fellowship 

Shanelle Haughton ’16, a Hartford native, and first-generation Jamaican American, is one of three recipients of a prestigious fellowship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) new Jose E. Serrano Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) Graduate Fellowship Program. 

This fellowship is designed to serve as a future workforce pipeline to NOAA for qualified students. Fellows receive an award package that includes funding for tuition, professional development, travel, and housing. 

For Haughton, this will provide well-deserved and long-needed support after an academic career spanning a range of Greater Hartford schools, including Noah Webster School, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Classical Magnet School, and finally, University of Saint Joseph, to her post-graduate work at University of Maryland Eastern Shore. 

Her work focuses on a holistic approach to improving water quality for water inhabitants, fisheries, and communities dependent on these resources. After initially pursuing research at USJ to add to her resume for a pre-med track, she found her passion as a research scientist through experiences at the Scantic River Watershed Water Monitoring Project–where she completed a chemical analysis of watershed samples from towns in the northern region of Connecticut–and internships at the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Farmington River Watershed Association alongside her academic work. 

Honing in on a marine and molecular focus has deepened her understanding of water and the important research that must be done to protect our environment and discover innovations to solve global problems caused by climate change and pollution. 

Her work at the Maryland Eastern Shore continued to diversify and deepen her work as she has joined the American Fisheries Society and worked in various NOAA fellowships and internships. 

Her academic successes have not come without sacrifice; she has often had to make choices that prioritize education over financial security. “My family is composed of immigrants who came to this country with little to no money and a dream for a better life. The harsh reality has always been that I cannot afford the cost of my education. I face this reality often when I have to decide between life necessities and school fees. Yet, my mother and I make these decisions and sacrifices with a smile as I look toward the bright future.” 

Haughton plans to pay forward the advantages awarded to her through her new fellowship, as she has done with her previous gains. “I believe that my journey is a path of empowerment for myself and others. Being a woman of color in a field in which I am a part of an overwhelming minority has resulted in many adversities. However, I believe my courage and grace as I progress in my career will encourage young women and men of color to pursue STEM fields.” 

She has served as a mentor to many colleagues during her time at the University of Saint Joseph and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and hopes to extend that exchange with the larger community. Her long-term plans include “revolutionizing the way the world understands water and its inhabitants, as well as increasing public interest in science.” 

She hopes for a future where her knowledge as a scientist combined with her life experience can act to bridge the communication gap between the general public and the research community. Conversations between these groups, she believes, have the power to engage the public in scientific conversations to influence government policy and community action. 

“I strongly believe that representation and open communication helps with this feat, showing that scientists share similar backgrounds to the general public, and that anyone can be a scientist,” added Haughton.