Student Profiles - Nikita Michelsen

Nikita MichelsenIt’s Easy Being Green: Student Research Looks at Sustainability Opportunities on Campus

Nikita Michelsen conducted her research as part of a class project for Lisa Palmer.

Individuals can make a big difference when it comes to making Cañada College greener. That's the conclusion reached in a recent research project conducted by student Nikita Michelsen as part of Professor Lisa Palmer's Honors English class. Michelsen is one of six Cañada students presenting research at this year's symposium at UC Berkeley.

Michelsen said it was a class decision to do a group project about environmental sustainability. She said students thought it would be interesting to see what could be done at Cañada to achieve a smaller carbon footprint and to see if it would be economically beneficial.

"We researched how people can make a change, starting with something close by – our college," she said. "It doesn't have to be big changes that make a difference; it can be as simple as turning off computers."

When it comes to environmental sustainability, most people support the concept, Michelsen said, but they believe there's not much they can do to make a difference. "They think it's up to governments or environmental movements to save the planet," she said.

Michelsen said students in Palmer's class proved individuals can make a difference. "Every student picked an idea for a change that might be sustainable and looked at different aspects of that change, such as cost, convenience, and ways to encourage the change. Ideas ranged from solar panels to ride-share programs."

Michelsen, 19, is a business economics major preparing to transfer to UC Berkeley. She said the class research on environmental sustainability helped her understand it's not always the big project that makes the biggest difference. "Adding solar panels in the parking lots is not as economically rewarding as using refillable water bottles or a ride-share system," she said. "We learned that Cañada is already doing a lot but, as in most cases, there is room for improvement and small steps can go a long way."