Donna Nelson

Donna Nelson
Donna Nelson

Dr. Donna J. Nelson is a 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 in 2010. She was an assistant to American Chemical Society President Ann Nalley from Nalley's election in 2004 through 2007.

Diversity research

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).[1] 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.[2]

Nelson's diversity research has been cited by dozens of newspapers, magazines, and journals, including The New York Times[3][4] The Christian Science Monitor,[5] and CNN.[6] 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.[7]

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 (SWCNT) 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 being named ACS Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science AAAS Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Organization for Women “Woman of Courage” Award, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholar, and a SACNAS Distinguished Scientist.

Nelson has written more than 90 peer-reviewed publications,[8] 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[9] and Marketplace Morning Report.[10] The Journal of Organic Chemistry cover of February 4, 2005 featured her research.[11]

See also


Additional References

[12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

  1. ^ Nelson, Donna. "Diversity surveys data". Nelson Diversity Surveys. Diversity in Science Association. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  2. ^ Donna Nelson (2006-01-06) (PDF). A National Analysis of Diversity in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities. University of Oklahoma. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  3. ^ Lewin, Tamar (2004-01-15). "Despite Gain in Degrees, Women Lag in Tenure in 2 Main Fields" (reprint). The New York Times. LexisNexis. Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  4. ^ Rimer, Sara (2005-04-15). "For Women in Sciences, Slow Progress in Academia". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  5. ^ Teicher, Stacy (2006-06-29). "The ivory tower gets more flexible". The Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  6. ^ Associated Press (2004-01-16). "White Men Dominate Science Posts". CNN. CNN. Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  7. ^ Cornelia M. Ashby (July 2004) (PDF). Gender Issues: Women's Participation in the Sciences Has Increased, but Agencies Need to Do More to Ensure Compliance with Title IX. Government Accountability Office. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  8. ^ "Current Topics, Issues, and Events in Diversity". Nelson Diversity Surveys. Diversity in Science Association. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  9. ^ Nelson, Donna. "Diversity News and Talks". Diversity in Science Association. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  10. ^ Ryssdal, Kai (2004-01-15). "Female chemist from University of Oklahoma will brief Congress on her study of women in academic science". Marketplace (radio program) (Minnesota Public Radio). Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  11. ^ Nelson, Donna; Ruibo Li, Christopher Brammer (2005-02-04). "Using Correlations to Compare Additions to Alkenes: Homogeneous Hydrogenation by Using Wilkinson's Catalyst" (– Scholar search). Journal of Organic Chemistry (American Chemical Society) 70 (3): 761–767. doi:10.1021/jo048968r. PMID 15675830. Retrieved 2007-06-01. [dead link][dead link]
  12. ^ "SACNAS Biography, Dr. Donna Nelson - Chemist". SACNAS. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  13. ^ "Strength Without Numbers?". Progress Magazine. JustGarciaHill. 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2008-03-11. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Academic Diversity". Nature (Nature Publishing Group) 447 (7146): 753–754. 2007-06-14. doi:10.1038/447753b. PMID 17568703. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  15. ^ "Academic Diversity in Universities". Nautilus. Nature Publishing Group. 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  16. ^ "Keynote Speaker Biographical Sketch". 2007 Conference of Ford Fellows. Ford Fellows. 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  17. ^ Donna Nelson (2008-02-06). "Do We Need Julian Today?". NOVA Forgotten Genius. PBS. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  18. ^ "Contrasts in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering". Association for Women in Science. Archived from the original on April 19, 2003. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  19. ^ Donna Nelson (2002-08-01). "Diversity in Academy". AWIS Magazine (Association for Women in Science) 31 (3). Retrieved 2008-03-11. [dead link]
  20. ^ Donna Nelson; Diana C. Rogers (2005-01-01). "A National Analysis of Diversity in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities". Retrieved 2008-03-11. 

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