Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Chemistry

Ph.D., Yale University, 1970

Phone: (321) 674-8480
Fax: (321) 674-7022

Dr. Nelson's research activities focus on Polymers, particularly Polymer Degradation and Flammability. Specific interests include New Flame Retardant Materials, Nanocomposites, Combustion Product Toxicity; Polymer Aging and Weathering; and Coating Adhesion to Plastic Substrates.


  • High Performance Polyimide Foams - Characterization
  • Novel Nanocomposites - Mechanical, Thermal and Flammability Properties
  • Ferrocene-Based Polymers
  • Effect of Zinc and Zinc Compounds on the Flammability of PPO-HIPS Blends, Polystyrene and on Polycarbonate
  • Synthesis and Properties of Siloxane-Polyurethane Block Co-Polymers

Dr. Nelson's background is in physical organic chemistry, the how and why of organic reactions.  Much of his research over the past 20 years has been in the area of polymer flammability. Questions include: What is the degradation chemistry?  What chemistry leads to char formation, to toxic gas generation?  His more than 190 publications are principally in the area of the flammability of polymers, particularly engineering plastics.  His early contributions included extension of the oxygen index test as a tool to elucidate the effect of chemical structure on flammability.  In industry (General Electric Company) he developed a major multidisciplinary laboratory devoted to fire and plastics.  Over 500 large-scale simulations of fires in plastics products were conducted with considerable new understanding attained.  He conducted some of the early industrial animal toxicity studies on products of combustion of burning polymers.  He was the first to recognize the importance of CO2 in more fully accounting for toxicity of CO in small-scale toxic potency tests.  As a result of this extensive experience, he has participated extensively in the voluntary standards process for fire safety.

Dr. Nelson received the Society of the Plastics Industry Structural Foam Division's Man of the Year Award for 1979.  The Mississippi Legislature passed a Concurrent Resolution in his honor in 1987. He was the American Institute of Chemists Members and Fellows Lecturer in 1989.  In 1998 he was the recipient of the Charles Holmes Herty Medal of the Georgia Section of the American Chemical Society.  Nelson was also the 1992 chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and was 1988 President of the American Chemical Society.



Forum 4: 2007 - An International Forum on Sustainability

Edited By Gordon L. Nelson & Imre Hronszky

Read Online E-text!

E-Text:  PDF



Click here for Dr. Nelson's recent publications.