Kelsey Murlles – Environmental Sciences – Old Gold and Black


Kelsey Murlless is a major in environmental and sustainable studies and a minor in politics and international affairs from Charlotte, North Carolina. She spent the first three years of her experience at Wake Forest as an Interdisciplinary Studies student and changed her major to Environmental and Sustainable Studies when the program premiered in the fall of 2020.

Murlless first became interested in environmental science in high school when she took the Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science course. Yet she entered college not knowing what to specialize in. She decided she wanted to study environmental science in her second year and began the process of creating her own major as Wake Forest did not have an environmental science department at the time. .

“The process of creating a major has been very long, tedious and difficult,” Murrless said. “There was a lot of work and I think I really learned perseverance from that experience.”

Murrless decided to upgrade to major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies when it was founded because it offered more structure than the interdisciplinary study program. However, she appreciated the opportunity to explore many different departments at Wake Forest during her major in Interdisciplinary Studies.

“I took the bio[logy], English, history, politics and economics… I think I took a course in almost every department, ”Murrless said. “It’s great because you really get the chance to meet a lot of people and teachers that you wouldn’t have been able to meet if you were only in one major.”

Two of Murrless’ favorite courses were environmental anthropology, taught by Paul Thacker, and international environmental policy, taught by Nicolás Cisneros. She enjoyed the environmental anthropology course because it gave her a new perspective on environmental issues and loved how international environmental policy combined her interests in environmental science and policy.

“Kelsey is popular within the environmental programming community because of her dedicated commitment to a better future and her humility, compassion and kindness,” Thacker said. “She combines a successful training in the natural sciences with a deep understanding of the culturally constructed worldviews that structure our relationship to the environment.”

Murrless studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in the fall of his freshman year, and called his time abroad the best part of his university experience. Murrless has studied climate change, glaciers, renewable energy and waste management with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS).

“The program was a very hands-on learning experience, which I loved,” said Murrless.

Murrless completed several environmental internships during his time in Wake Forest. In her sophomore year, she served as the first athletics, waste reduction and diversionary assistant for the campus sustainability office. She has worked as an intermediary between the Office of Sustainability and athletic programs, and has promoted sustainable initiatives within athletics. Among other accomplishments, Murrless helped host an all carbon neutral baseball game.

Murrless also interned with the Catawba Lands Conservancy as stewardship work; there, she spent time in the field monitoring and reporting on the conditions of protected lands in and around Charlotte.

In his final year, Murrless joined the Piedmont Environmental Alliance (PEA) as a community outreach and marketing intern.

“Every year PEA has a big Earth Day fair, so I did a lot of graphic design and marketing for the fair,” Murrless explained. “It’s been a lot of outreach with the local community and trying to strengthen [PEA’s] presence on social networks in order to increase attendance at the show.

Over the past four years, Murrless has been involved with the Delta Zeta (DZ) sorority and has held several leadership roles within the organization. She served as a representative for DZ Greeks Go Green, where she fostered communication between the sisterhood and the Sustainability Office and encouraged her sisters to adopt sustainable practices. She also spent a semester as president of intramural sport of DZ.

Murrless loved to get involved in campus events, traditions and volunteer opportunities. She has participated in Hit the Bricks, served on a Wake N ‘Shake committee, and volunteered for Campus Kitchen and Campus Garden.

After graduation, Murrless will do an internship at Fulfill, a non-profit organization focused on sustainable entrepreneurship, where she will develop a sustainability program. Murrless plans to start a career in environmental policy after completing his internship.


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