Priscilla P. Nelson was one of three inducted into the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering Distinguished Graduates Society during the May 11 Convocation on the Norman campus.
Nelson is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Nelson received a bachelor of science degree in geological sciences from the University of Rochester in 1970, a master of science degree in geology from Indiana University in 1976, a master of science degree in structural engineering from OU in 1979 and a doctoral degree in geotechnical engineering from Cornell University in 1983. Nelson served as provost at the New Jersey Institute of Technology from 2005-2008 and has a national and international reputation in geological and rock engineering and the particular application of underground construction. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience, has mentored many students and has more than 120 technical and scientific publications to her credit.
Her previous experience includes 11 years at the National Science Foundation concluding her service as senior adviser to the director of NSF. During her time at NSF, she acted in many capacities, including program director for the geotechnical engineering program, director for Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education program, director of the Civil and Mechanical Systems division, and as program manager for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. She received the NEES Community Visionary Award in 2005.
Nelson was appointed to the faculty in civil engineering at The University of Texas at Austin from 1983 through 1996, rising from assistant through associate and full professor ranks. She was elected to The Moles, an association of the heavy construction industry (1995) and inducted into Tau Beta Pi as an eminent engineer (2007). At the NSF she received the Director’s Award for Integrative Collaboration four times, and was presented the Director’s Award for Meritorious Service in 1997. In 1999, she was appointed to the senior executive service. Also in 1999, she received the Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment from the NSF. In 2008, she received the Kenneth Andrew Roe Award from the American Association of Engineering Societies, and was honored in the Executive Women of New Jersey Salute to the Policy Makers. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Rock Mechanics Association, distinguished member of ASCE, and honorary diplomate of the Academy of Geo-Professionals. Nelson currently serves on the National Academy Committee on Underground Engineering for Sustainable Urban Development, and as an adviser to the National Academy’s Center for Engineering, Ethics and Society.
In 1990, the College of Engineering Distinguished Graduates Society was established to honor our most accomplished alumni. Selection is based upon prominent and distinguished professional or technical achievement, notable public service, outstanding contributions, and other significant contributions to the engineering profession.
Membership in the society affords the public acknowledgment and recognition befitting these graduates. Each year, society awardees are honored by the administration, faculty and students of the College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma through participation in the induction ceremonies at spring convocation.