Talia Michaud

Talia Michaud

Name: Talia Michaud
Class: senior
Major: environmental studies
Hometown: New Hartford, Connecticut


  • Blanco Family Scholarship
  • Nancy Skinner Nordhoff Scholars Endowment 
  • Miller Worley Center for the Environment Conference Grant
  • Marsha Barton Bruno Charron Memorial Fund Award
“The support I’ve received from the College has allowed me to follow my passions. I’ve been able to do so many things. I am really grateful.”

“I went on a mushroom-hunting lab in my intro to biology class and just absolutely fell in love,” says Talia Michaud, who wasn’t sure what to major in when she came to Mount Holyoke. She wasn’t even sure she liked science. “There are mushroom treasures everywhere — but they’re ephemeral. They’re only there for two weeks. They’re colorful. And they have these crazy life stories.”  

Michaud, an environmental studies major, focuses on mycorrhizal fungi, which are vitally important in terms of the structure of our ecosystems — she calls them “plant partners” and notes that the world as we know it would not exist without them.

700+ campus acres serve as a living laboratory for interdisciplinary studies, including four miles of trails, five weather stations and 15 water sampling stations.

Advisor Kate Ballantine, Marjorie Fisher Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, encouraged Michaud to participate in the Semester in Environmental Science program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “We looked at mycorrhizal fungal communities and soil chemistry,” Michaud recalls.  

“Fungi are symbiotic, so they can engage in what is called mutualism. They can be parasitic. They can be scavengers. Fungi undergird entire ecosystems. If you look at the fossil record 400 million years ago, you can see the first land plants. And you’ll actually find these mycorrhizal fungi in the tissues of these plants.”