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Donna Nelson is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma. Nelson performs research into and teaches organic chemistry and has also conducted research into ethnic and gender diversity among highly-ranked science departments of research universities.
Nelson was born in Eufaula, Oklahoma and earned her BS in chemistry at the University of Oklahoma in 1974. She obtained her PhD in chemistry at the University of Texas with Michael J. S. Dewar in 1980, did her postdoctorate at Purdue University with Herbert C. Brown from 1980 to 1983, and joined the University of Oklahoma as a faculty member in 1983. She was a Faculty Fellow in the OU Provost’s Office from 1989 to 1990. Nelson was a Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003 and has been an assistant to American Chemical Society President Ann Nalley since Nalley's election in 2004.
From 2001 to 2004, Nelson surveyed tenured and tenure track university faculty members of the "top 50" departments in each of 14 science and engineering disciplines (chemistry, physics, mathematics, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering mechanical engineering, computer science, political science, sociology, economics, biological sciences, and psychology). Data was collected about race/ethnicity, gender, and rank, and are complete populations, rather than samples, so they accurately reveal the small number or absence of underrepresented groups. They were obtained simultaneously and by a consistent protocol and are therefore comparable across a large number of disciplines.
The study revealed that generally, women and minorities are significantly underrepresented on these faculties. For example, there are no black, Hispanic, or Native American tenured or tenure track women faculty in the top 50 computer science departments. For chemistry and chemical engineering faculties, her additional national origin data revealed that, recently, more immigrants have been hired as faculty than American females and American minorities combined.
Nelson's diversity research has been cited by dozens of newspapers, magazines, and journals, including The New York Times The Christian Science Monitor, and CNN. The Government Accountability Office used Nelson's data for its July 2004 report to Congress on Title IX, specifically women's access to opportunities in the sciences.
Chemistry and chemistry education research
In physical organic chemistry, Nelson developed a new synthetically useful technique for gathering mechanistic information on addition reactions of alkenes. The investigations often permit selection of one mechanism from several which are proposed. The technique has helped determine mechanisms of important addition reactions of alkenes, such as hydroboration, oxymercuration, bromination, the Wacker process, and the Wilkinson reaction. She now applies her earlier research to Single Walled Carbon Nanotube (SWNT) reactions.
Nelson utilized her teaching assignment of large sections of organic chemistry to develop and evaluate learning devices for her students. The devices use a visual, rather than oral or written, presentation; two were adopted by publishers to accompany their major organic chemistry textbooks. She also surveys students in order to determine factors which influence students to select or remain in science majors. Nelson's research results and materials from an education project, designed by Oklahoma high school students and involving precipitate-forming reactions conducted in microgravity on board the STS-40, are the subject of a permanent educational exhibit demonstrating the scientific method, at the Oklahoma Air and Space Museum. She has collaborated with Native American tribes to determine incidences in, effects of, and attitudes toward diabetes in Oklahoma Native Americans.
Awards and honors
Nelson has received several honors, including as a American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Organization for Women “Woman of Courage” Award, and a Ford Foundation Fellowship.
Nelson has written more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, and has spoken at over 100 national meetings of professional societies and organizations, universities, and radio and TV programs such as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Marketplace Morning Report. The Journal of Organic Chemistry cover of February 4 2005 featured her research.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Donna_Nelson". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|