Jennifer Nelson, Ph.D.

assistant professor of mathematics, the john merck division of science and technology

Everett Mansion 309
jnelson@svc.edu
802-447-6327

In August 2011, Professor Jennifer Nelson was inducted as Secretary of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) – Theory Section, which is a group of math biologists who use math tools and modeling to understand biological and ecological processes and systems. The ESA is this country’s primary professional organization for ecologists, representing over 10,000 scientists from all over the world.

What drew her to math biology? “Mathematical biology not only helps you understand biological processes,” Professor Nelson said, “but also to be able to predict what will happen, a powerful tool in this modern world.” Nelson teaches most of the math classes at Southern Vermont College. A math and biology major in college, her expertise in biology was honed with a master’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in theoretical ecology from Duke.

Nelson, who comes from a family of English majors and librarians, always knew she wanted to be in academia. She found herself pursuing a math degree after being smitten by the discovery of calculus in high school.

Nelson loves the challenge of explaining the technical concepts of math and biology to different audiences and enjoys sharing her passion for discovery. She is energized by her students’ transformation from the frustration with learning math concepts to understanding. “Students usually need to build their confidence and be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Nelson said. “The understanding will come from repetition.”

Education

  • Ph.D., Theoretical Ecology, Duke University, 2008
  • M.A., Biology, Duke University, 2002
  • B.A., Biology and Mathematics, Colby College, 1999

Courses taught

  • Mathematics

academic Research/interests

Interactions between populations

areas of expertise

Population Dynamics, Biological Modeling, Differential Equations 

Why I teach

I enjoy sharing my passion for discovery with others.

Favorite Book

Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff; Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

Favorite film

Princess Bride

Best part of being at SVC

I'm excited about the opportunity to support students' quantitative studies not just in my courses, but throughout their studies.

highlights

August 2011 - Named Secretary of the Ecological Society of America - Theory Section, a group of math biologists who use math tools and modeling to understand biological and ecological processes and systems.