Sarah Nicholls

  • Associate Professor

  • Email:
  • Telephone: 517-432-0319
  • Natural Resources Building
    480 Wilson Rd, Room 331B
    East Lansing, MI 48824


Sarah Nicholls is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment between the Departments of Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies (CARRS) and Geography. She holds a B.Sc. in Geography from University College London, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences from Texas A&M University. She has worked at MSU since 2002. Sarah’s teaching in the Department of Geography includes GEO 259 Geography of Recreation and Tourism and GEO 459 Tourism in Regional Development. She co-leads a Study Abroad program, Caribbean Regional Development and Sustainable Tourism: The Dominican Republic Experience, each summer. Sarah is active in all aspects of Michigan’s outdoor recreation and tourism industry – she serves on the Ingham County Parks and Recreation Commission, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Equine Trails Subcommittee, the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association Education and Conference Planning Committees, and the Michigan Culinary Tourism Alliance.

Research Interests:

Sarah’s research centers around two broad themes: tourism planning, development and impacts; and issues associated with urban parks. Recent projects have included the preparation of a tourism development plan for the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts; a series of studies of the implications of climate change for outdoor recreation and tourism in Michigan and the Great Lakes; and, GIS-based analyses of urban park access and equity for a variety of communities throughout Michigan. Sarah is currently involved in projects regarding agri-tourism development in Michigan and France and the adoption of environmental initiatives within the accommodations sector in Michigan. Her work has been published in a variety of parks, recreation and tourism journals, including the Journal of Travel Research, Tourism Analysis, Journal of Leisure Research, and Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. She serves on five journal editorial boards.