Michelle Nijhuis (that's "Nye-house") lives in western Colorado, between the foothills of the Rockies and the redrock canyons of southern Utah. She is a contributing editor of the environmental journal High Country News and a correspondent for Orion , and her work has appeared in publications including Smithsonian , The Christian Science Monitor , The San Francisco Chronicle, Audubon, Mother Jones , Salon , and the anthology Best American Science Writing . She is the winner of several national journalism awards, including the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism and an AAAS Science Journalism Award . In 2006, she was also one of two finalists for the National Academies Communication Award.

Michelle travels frequently to cover stories throughout the western United States, northern Mexico and beyond (Click here to read about her summer 2006 trip to Alaska).

Please see below for a sampling of published articles, and here for a resumé. Thanks for visiting!

Selected Recent Stories and Projects

Everybody's Doing It , Orion , July/August 2007. What your credit card says about your social conscience (and your bathroom habits).

Luau in the Desert , The Christian Science Monitor , May 2007. Descendants of Polynesian pioneers throw a party in Utah.

Of Murder and Microscopes , Sierra , May/June 2007. How botanist Jane Bock became a crime fighter.

Places in the Heart , Grist , April 2007. Interviews with an Icelandic vodka maker, a defiant Irish farmer, and the other winners of the 2007 Goldman Prize, environmentalism's highest honor.

Wish You Weren't Here , High Country News , March 2007. Quagga mussels — a relative of the ferociously invasive zebra mussel — have a new home in the West. Dealing with them will be anything but a vacation.
(Endorsed by the Knight Science Journalism Tracker .)

Scarface , Audubon , March/April 2007. Photographer Cameron Davidson skims above the Appalachian landscape, and zooms in on mountaintop coal mining.

Powder Day , All Things Considered , January 2007. We'd planned on a ski trip. We got something else.

High and Dry , 2006. The award-winning High Country News series on climate change in the American West, collected in a fancy booklet (links to individual stories below).

This Dog Believes , High Country News , November 2006. Pika takes on global warming.

Wrestling on a Mountain in Turkey , The Christian Science Monitor , October 2006. It's all true.

Science's Glacial Strides , The Christian Science Monitor , September 2006. A two-part tale about the pleasures and perils of research on Alaska's Juneau Icefield (part two is here ).

Selling the Wind , Audubon , September 2006. Dissecting the controversy over wind power and wildlife.

The Lure of the Lawn , High Country News , August 2006. Turfgrass is the largest irrigated crop in the United States. What's behind its persistent appeal? An abridged version of this story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in October.

Wrecking the Rockies , OnEarth , Summer 2006. Colorado hunting guide Laura Amos wonders if her health is an uncounted casualty of the natural-gas boom.

Dust and Snow
, High Country News , May 2006. In the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, tiny particles carry big implications for spring snowmelt — and Western water supplies.

Between the Body and the World , High Country News , May 2006. Pondering plasticized human remains at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Family Values , Sierra , May/June 2006. Born in Cambodia, Bernie Barlow lives and works on a remote Wyoming ranch, where she and her family have spent decades fighting the region's energy booms.

Forgiving Dalton Trumbo , San Francisco Chronicle , March 2006. Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, outraged his Colorado hometown with his first novel. Seventy years later, that town is giving Trumbo another chance.

Save Our Snow , High Country News , March 2006. Can Aspen and other Western towns put a dent in global warming? The fifth and final part of the Hot Times series.

Other Featured Articles

The Ghosts of Yosemite , High Country News . Scientists from the past bring us a message about the future. Part four of the Hot Times series. An abridged version of this story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle .

What Happened to Winter? , High Country News . Global warming and the end of winter as we know it. Part three of the Hot Times series.

Written in the Rings , High Country News . Ancient trees have a lot to tell us about our warmer — and drier — future in the American West. Part two of the Hot Times series.

Madame Butterfly , Sierra . Michelle makes a foray to Florida to profile MaVynee Betsch, a superb and savvy activist who passed away in September 2005. Winner of the 2005 Best Profile Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

The Accidental Wetland , Orion Magazine . A journey into the Colorado River Delta of northern Mexico, with gorgeous black-and-white photographs by John Trotter. Please contact Michelle for full text.

Between Hoofprints , Orion Magazine . The Quivira Coalition searches for true common ground in the West's grazing wars. A feature with lovely photographs by Lisa Hamilton. Contact Michelle for full text.

, Smithsonian . A tiny town in Wyoming bands together to save its Main Street department store.

What's in your Body's Chemical Cocktail? Salon.com . Biomonitoring shows how humans soak up their environment.

Shadow Creatures (included in The Best American Science Writing 2003 , edited by Oliver Sacks), High Country News . Urban critters reflect who we are, and what we've lost.

The American Dream, Sans Gasoline
, High Country News . An essay about the joys of biodiesel.

A Few More From the Archives

Attack of the Bark Beetles
High Country News . Global warming is already transforming western forests. Part one of the Hot Times series and runner-up in the 2004 National Press Foundation competition for young science journalists.

New Mexico's Strange Love
, Mother Jones . Carlsbad, New Mexico's quest to host a nuclear bomb plant.

, Smithsonian . An immersion school on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana strives to restore the tribe's ancestral language.

Down on the Pharm , Salon.com . Colorado farmers rebel against genetically modified "pharmaceutical" crops.

Change Comes Slowly to Escalante Country
, High Country News . How one woman paid the political price for Utah's newest national monument.

The Goldman Standard. Interviews with the winners of the Goldman Prize, environmentalism's highest honor. From Grist Magazine . Goldman 2003 Goldman 2004 Goldman 2005
Goldman 2006 .

"Sleepless in Suburbia," an essay in Comeback Wolves , edited by Gary Wockner and published by Johnson Books. This fine collection of wolf tales won the 2006 Colorado Book Award.

The End of Something Really Big , High Country News . Notes of a "carcass tourist."

Where Free Trade is more than an Acronym , High Country News . An essay about picking onions along the Mexican border. Also appeared in the Denver Post and other regional newspapers.

Life in the Stupid Zone
, Grist Magazine . What it's like to wait for your house to burn down. An essay that also appeared in the Denver Post and elsewhere.

Extreme Canning
and Send the Coyotes to Congress , High Country News and various other publications. More silliness about life in the West.

The Bacischwandenhuis Collective. Visit scifi writer Paolo Bacigalupi and science journalist Christie Aschwanden , friends, allies, and superstars.

The Coyote Commons . What happens in Michelle's backyard.

Michelle Nijhuis


Michelle Nijhuis, Freelance Journalist