I didn’t always plan to be an anthropologist. However, during an undergrad anthropology course I realized that the field of anthropology would provide an excellent arena to pursue my innate curiosity about the diversity of people and their interactions with each other and their environments. My goal as an anthropologist is to pursue research that is intellectually challenging and that enhances our abilities to resolve complex social and environmental issues. My intellectual interests span scales that include individual households, communities, watersheds, regions, and nations. I also am an ardent believer in an interdisciplinary approach to framing and exploring research questions.
In my professional life I have worked extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a particular focus in Northeast Brazil and the Brazilian Amazon. I have also been involved with work in Africa including the countries of Mozambique, Angola, and The Comoros. I use a range of participatory methodologies as well as quantitative tools in my research, which include GIS and remote sensing. My research explores relationships between humans, climate and their natural environments.
PhD, Anthropology (with minor in Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis), University of Arizona, 2005
- Vulnerability and adaptation studies
- Food and water security
- Global climate and environmental change
- Land-use and land-cover change
- Water governance and ethics
- International development
Nelson, D.R., B. Bledsoe, S. Ferreira, and N. Nibbelink. 2020. The Potential of Nature-based Solutions for water sustainability. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.45:49-55. doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2020.09.001
De Azevedo Reis, G., F.A. de Souza Filho, D.R. Nelson, R.V. Rocha and S.M.O. da Silva (2020). Development of a vulnerability to drought index using MCDM and GIS. Natural Disasters. doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-04247-7
Coughlan, M and D.R. Nelson. 2019. Geostatistical analysis of historical contingency and land use footprints in the prehistoric settlement dynamics of the South Carolina Piedmont, North America. Journal of Archaeological Science 107:1-9. doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2019.04.003
Unks, R., King, E., Nelson, D.R., Wachira, N.P., and L. German. 2019. Constraints, multiple stressors, and stratified adaptation: pastoralist livelihood vulnerability in a semi-arid wildlife conservation context in Central Kenya. Global Environmental Change. 54:124-134. doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.11.013
Unks, R., King, E., German, L. Wachira, N.P., and D.R. Nelson. 2019. Unevenness in scale mismatches: institutional change and pastoralist livelihoods in Laikipia, Kenya. Geoforum. 99:74-87. doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.12.010
Coughlan, M., and D.R. Nelson. 2018. Legacy effects of prehistoric Native American niche construction on Euro-American settlement in the South Carolina Piedmont. PLOS ONE. 13(3): e0195036. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195036
Delaney, A., T. Evans, J. McGreevy, J. Blekking, T. Schlachter, K. Korhonen-Kurki, P. A. Tamás, T. A. Crane, H. Eakin, W. Förch, L. Jones, D.R. Nelson, C. Oberlack, and M. Purdon. 2018. Governance of food systems across scales in times of social-ecological change: a review of indicators." Food Security 10(2): 287-310. doi.org/10.1007/s12571-018-0770-y