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Stuart O. Nelson
Research Agricultural Engineer
Quality Assessment Research
ARS Richard B. Russell Research Center
Dr. Nelson is a native Nebraskan, born and reared on a diversified farm in Stanton County in northeastern Nebraska. He received the B. S. and M. S. degrees in agricultural engineering and the M. A. in physics from the University of Nebraska in 1950, 1952, and 1954, respectively, and the Ph. D. in engineering from Iowa State University, Ames, in 1972. His undergraduate study was interrupted by a two-year enlistment in the U. S. Navy, during which he graduated from the Navy Electronics School and served as an Electronics Technician on a Navy Destroyer in the Pacific in 1948.
He began his career with ARS at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1954 as a Project Leader studying the use of radio-frequency dielectric heating for stored-grain insect control and treatment of agricultural seed to improve germination, both involving the measurement of dielectric properties of these materials. This research and later studies were conducted in cooperation with many other ARS and University scientists around the United States and in Australia.
From 1954 to 1976, he continued the research at Lincoln, NE, and served as Research Leader for Electromagnetic Radiation Investigations nationally from 1959 to 1972. He was Professor of Agricultural Engineering and Graduate Faculty Fellow at the University of Nebraska.
In 1976, he transferred his laboratory to the USDA's Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, Athens, GA, where he is an Adjunct Professor and a member of the Graduate Faculty at The University of Georgia, Athens.
His research interests have included—
- Use of radio-frequency and microwave dielectric heating for seed treatment, stored-grain insect control, and agricultural product conditioning;
- Studies of the dielectric properties of grain, seed, insects, fruits and vegetables, coal, and minerals;
- Methods of dielectric properties measurement;
- Dielectric properties and density relationships in granular and pulverized materials; and
- Moisture measurement through sensing dielectric properties of agricultural products.
These studies have been documented in more than 400 publications, and data on the dielectric properties of grain have provided key information for the development of improved grain moisture meters nationally and worldwide.
Dr. Nelson is a member of a large number of professional and honorary societies and organizations and was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Microwave Power Institute (IMPI), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Other honors include the IMPI Decade Award for the most significant scientific and technical contributions to the field of microwave energy (1971-80), the National Society of Professional Engineers Founder's Gold Medal as the 1985 Federal Engineer of the Year, USDA Superior Service Award, Professional Achievement Citation in Engineering from Iowa State University, the Organization of Professional Employees of the Department of Agriculture Professional-of-the-Year Award, and election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1990. He was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1989 and inducted into the University of Nebraska Biological Systems Engineering Hall of Fame in 1999. The Georgia Engineering Foundation awarded him the 1999 Medal of Honor, and he received the McCormick-Case Gold Medal Award from ASAE in 2000 for exceptional and meritorious engineering achievement in agriculture. He was selected for induction into the USDA, ARS Science Hall of Fame in 2002.