Dr. Nelson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University Medical Center. He holds the Dr. John D. and E. Olive Brumbaugh Chair in Brain Research and Teaching. Dr. Nelson also holds joint appointments as Professor of Psychology and Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology. He directs the OSU Behavioral Phenotyping Core.
Dr. Nelson earned his AB degree in Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. He began his graduate career at Berkeley with Dr. Frank Beach. After receiving his MA in Psychology, he began focusing on studies of biological rhythms with Dr. Irving Zucker. He earned a PhD in Psychology in 1983, as well as a second PhD in Endocrinology in 1984 from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Nelson then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in reproductive physiology with Drs. Frank Bronson and Claude Desjardins at the Institute for Reproductive Biology at the University of Texas, Austin from 1984-1986.
Dr. Nelson served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins from 1986-2000 when he moved to Ohio State. He has published over 350 scientific articles and several books describing studies in biological rhythms, behavioral neuroendocrinology, stress, immune function, sex and aggressive behavior. He has been elected to Fellow status in several scientific associations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and the Animal Behavior Society. Nelson has served on many federal grant panels and currently serves on the editorial boards of five scientific journals. Dr. Nelson currently serves as the associate editor for Hormones and Behavior. He was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award at OSU in 2006, as well as the University Distinguished Lecturer, and the OSU Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2009. In 2012, he was appointed as Distinguished Professor of the College of Medicine, and in 2013 the Board of Trustees conferred the title of Distinguished University Professor upon Dr. Nelson.
Bedrosian, T.A., Vaughn, C.A., Galan, A., Daye, Ghassan, Weil, Z.M. & Nelson, R.J. 2013. Night-time light exposure impairs mood in a wavelength-dependent manner. Journal of Neuroscience, 33:13801-13087.
Bedrosian, T.A., Weil, Z.M. & Nelson, R.J. 2013. TNFα is implicated in a reversible depression-like phenotype provoked by chronic dim light at night. Molecular Psychiatry, 18: 930-936.
Bedrosian, T.A. & Nelson, R.J. 2013. Influence of the modern light environment on mood. Molecular Psychiatry, 18: 751-757.
Bedrosian, T.A., Herring, K.L., Weil, Z.M., & Nelson, R.J. 2011. Altered temporal patterns of anxiety in aged and amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108:11686-11691.
Fonken, L.K., Xu, X., Weil, Z.M., Chen, G., Sun, Q. Rajagopalan, S., & Nelson, R.J., 2011. Air pollution impairs cognition, provokes depressive-like behaviors and alters hippocampal cytokine expression and morphology. Molecular Psychiatry, 16: 987-995.
Wohleb, E.S., Hanke, M.L., Corona, A.M., Powell, N.D., Stiner, L., Bailey, M.T., Nelson, R.J, Godbout, J.P., and Sheridan, J.F. 2011. Adrenergic receptor antagonism prevents anxiety-like behavior and microglial reactivity induced by repeated social defeat. Journal of Neuroscience, 31: 6277-6288.
Fonken, L.K., Workman, J.L., Walton, J.C., Weil, Z.M., Morris, J.S., Haim, A., & Nelson, R.J. 2010. Light at night increases body mass by shifting the time of food intake. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107:18664-18669.
Weil, Z.M., Norman, G.J., DeVries, A.C., Berntson, G.G & Nelson, R.J. 2009. Photoperiod alters autonomic regulation of the heart. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106: 4525-4530.
Weil, Z.M., Norman, G.J., Barker, J.M., Su, A.J., Nelson, R.J. & DeVries, A.C. 2008. Social isolation potentiates cell death and inflammatory responses after global ischemia. Molecular Psychiatry, 13: 913-917.
Weil, Z.M., Norman, G.J., DeVries, A.C. & Nelson, R.J. 2008. The injured nervous system: A Darwinian perspective. Progress in Neurobiology, 86: 48–59.
Nelson, R.J. & Trainor. B.C. 2007. Neural mechanisms of aggression. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 8: 536-546.
Trainor, B.C., Lin, S., Finy, M.S., Rowland, M.R. & Nelson, R.J. 2007. Photoperiod reverses the effects of estrogen on male aggression via genomic and non-genomic pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104: 9840-9845.