iGEM/ejge portrait of a geotechnical engineer
Dr. Priscilla Nelson is Director of the Civil and Mechanical Systems (CMS) Division in the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She has been at NSF since 1994, and previously served as Program Director for the Geotechnical and Geo-environmental Systems program, and as Program Manager for the NEES (Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation) project at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NEES project, managed through the CMS Division, represents an impressive $82 million federal investment in earthquake experimentation equipment to be completed between FY2000 and FY2004.
Dr. Nelson was formerly (resigned in 1996) Professor and John Focht Fellow in the Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Rochester in Geological Sciences, and she has received three earned advanced degrees including Master's degrees in both Geology (Indiana University) and Structural Engineering (University of Oklahoma). In 1983, she received her PhD from Cornell University in Geotechnical Engineering. Dr. Nelson has a national and international reputation in geological and rock engineering, and the particular application of underground construction. She has more than 15 years of teaching experience and more than 120 technical and scientific publications to her credit.
Dr. Nelson is Past-President of the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a lifetime member and first President of the American Rock Mechanics Association. Among many professional affiliations, she is an active member of the American Underground-Construction Association, the Association of Engineering Geologists, and the International Tunnelling Association. She has served as a member of the U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics, the U.S. National Committee for Tunneling Technology, and the Board on Radioactive Waste Management, all activities of the National Research Council.
Dr. Nelson has been a part of several major projects, including field engineering responsibilities during construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and serving as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Texas for the Superconducting Super Collider project. She has served as consultant to many large underground construction projects in the U.S., and she is a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, appointed by President Clinton in 1997.
Her honors and awards include the Exxon Teaching Fellowship at The University of Texas at Austin (1985-1987), the Case Studies Award from the U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics (1988), the Haliburton Education Foundation Award of Excellence (1991), and the Basic Research Award from the U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics (1993). She is one of the few academics or women elected to The Moles, an association for the heavy construction industry (1995). In 1997, Dr. Nelson received the Director's Award for Collaborative Integration and the Meritorious Service Award, both from the National Science Foundation, and in 1998 she was selected as the NSPE Federal Engineer of the Year from the National Science Foundation. In 1999, she received the Superior Achievement award from NSF, the highest honor awarded to employees who are not in the Senior Executive Service (SES). Three months later, she was inducted into the SES and promoted to her current position as Division Director at NSF, managing a total annual grant portfolio of approximately $70 to 80 million.
Dr. Nelson has been a part of several major projects, including field engineering responsibilities during construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and serving as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Texas for the Superconducting Super Collider project. She is a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, appointed by President Clinton in 1997 and reappointed in 2000.iGEM / ejge