Craig Nelson


President's Medal for Excellence (2001)
Founders Day
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Myles Brand
American Association for the Advancement of Science (1968)
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Biology


Craig E. Nelson is Professor Emeritus of Biology at Indiana University where he has been on the faculty since 1966. He retired from teaching in 2004.

Before his retirement, Dr. Nelson taught a broad range of courses, both inside and outside of biology. Dr. Nelson's biological research has been on evolution and ecology, initially on frogs and more recently on sex-determination in turtles, and he has published numerous articles on these and related topics. He has also written widely on teaching science, focusing especially on fostering critical thinking and the teaching of particular topics, like evolution. Dr. Nelson directed the Graduate Programs in Zoology (1981-83) and in Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (1984-87). He was the first Director (1971-77) of Environmental Programs in IU's then new School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Its interdisciplinary environmental programs (B.A. to Ph.D.) now rank among the best worldwide.

Dr. Nelson received nationally competitive awards for distinguished teaching from Vanderbilt and Northwestern and is a Carnegie Scholar. In 2000, he was named the Outstanding Research and Doctoral University Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and received the President's Medal for Excellence, "the highest honor bestowed by Indiana University," in 2001. In addition, Dr. Nelson co-directed NSF funded institutes for high school biology teachers on "Evolution and the Nature of Science." He was on the committee that founded the prestigious SOTL program at Indiana University, which won the prestigious Hesburgh Award for outstanding faculty development in 2004. He chaired (2004-05) the founding committee for the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and became its first president.