Forever Green
Campaign for Northwest
Directory
A-Z Index

Student Spotlight

As part of her summer internship with the Sustainability Institute at Hope College in Michigan, Lauren Nichols created a bike share proposal and presented about water ecosystems to promote lakeshore cleanliness. (Submitted photo)

As part of her summer internship with the Sustainability Institute at Hope College in Michigan, Lauren Nichols created a bike share proposal and presented about water ecosystems to promote lakeshore cleanliness. (Submitted photo)

Oct. 3, 2018

Chemistry major develops sustainability plan through internship

By Grace Niemeyer, communication assistant


A Northwest Missouri State University student spent her summer in Holland, Michigan, to develop and establish sustainability practices with the Sustainability Institute at Hope College.

Lauren Nichols, a junior chemistry major from Mokane, Missouri, developed a greenhouse gas emissions calculator and moved the college two points closer to earning Gold Status on the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) report. Additionally, she completed various economic analyses of sustainability practices, created a bike share proposal and presented on water ecosystems to promote lakeshore cleanliness.

“I loved the job that I did,” Nichols said. “I made connections while I was there. My bosses were super nice and my coworkers and I really got along. I improved my time management skills and professionalism.”

The Sustainability Institute was developed by the City of Holland, Hope College and Holland Board of Public Works to support outreach and development of tactics to create a more sustainable community.

Nichols’ academic advisor, Dr. Rick Toomey, an associate professor of chemistry at Northwest, encouraged her to apply for the internship when she was looking for opportunities last spring.

“He is an exceptional advisor,” Nichols said. “The whole chemistry department at Northwest is really good. Dr. (Shelley) Riley and Dr. (Michael) Bellamy have been really influential, and all the professors are really approachable, nice and willing to give you advice whenever you ask for it on anything, not just homework.”

Nichols also appreciates Northwest’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the University’s encouragement to develop sustainable practices on and off campus. Northwest, which the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) honored in 2017 with its Excellence and Innovation Award in the category of sustainability and sustainable development, is a leader in programs and services related to energy management, recycling, education and partnerships. The University’s legacy of using alternative energy sources and sustainability initiatives dates back to 1982 when the University established a biomass energy system using wood chips.

“One of the big differences that I saw was the difference in recycling measures on campus,” Nichols said. “Northwest is doing good stuff. The big recycling bins that separate it out, those are awesome.”

Nichols hopes to become a chemistry teacher and use her knowledge to help others. She is involved with Northwest Professor of Chemistry Dr. Michael Bellamy’s Rockwater project, which is dedicated to creating labs for high school students and lab manuals for an orphanage and school in Haiti.

Curiosity compelled Nichols to visit the Northwest campus and a tour convinced her to stay. She has gained leadership skills as a chemistry tutor and through her involvement with the Christian Campus House.

“With everything in life, you’re never fully prepared for something,” Nichols said. “Preparedness comes through experience. Northwest prepared me for the knowledge-based stuff, but experience is the most preparation you can ever have.”


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468