Skip to Content, Skip to Site Navigation, Skip to Section Navigation, Skip to Search
Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

Craig Nelson

Photo of Craig Nelson
Professor Emeritus of Biology

IU Affiliations
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Contact Information
By telephone: 812-855-5036
MO 205

More about Craig Nelson


M.S. & Ph.D., University of Texas, 1966
B.A. University of Kansas, 1962


Carnegie Scholar, 2000-2001

Outstanding Research And Doctoral University Professor Of The Year. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching / Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

President\\\\\\\'s Medal for Excellence, Indiana University.

First President, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


Research Description

College Teaching [Most of my professional activity since retiring in 2004]:

  • How can we foster critical thinking in courses across the curriculum?
  • How can we increase achievement, equity and retention across the curriculum?
  • How can we foster a deeper understanding of evolution?
  • Alternatives to blaming the students: Applying the scholarship of teaching and learning

Evolutionary and developmental ecology of sex [No active research currently. Examples of past efforts]:

  • Why do hot turtle eggs become females? Sex in many, but not all, turtles is determined by incubation temperature. Is this adaptive or a primitive inefficiency? We found lineages which have temperature dependent sex determination in some species and normally genetically determined sex in others. We examed hormone levels, population structure and ecology for ways in which temperature determination can be adaptive. We also showed that sex ratio can be influenced by carbon dioxide and by metabolic heat in crowded developing eggs.
  • Why don't male lizards keep high levels of testosterone year-around? We showed that implanting testosterone outside the breeding season increases both sprint speed and endurance. On the other hand, it slowed growth and increaseed levels of mite infestation.
  • Earlier efforts also included the systematics etc. of Latin American amphibians, especially microhylid frogs.
Select Publications
Nelson, C.E. 2007. Teaching evolution effectively: A central dilemma and alternative strategies. McGill Journal of Education 42(2):265-283     Online:
Nelson, C.E. & J.M. Robinson.  2006. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Change in Higher Education." Ch.7 (pp 78-90) In Lynne Hunt, Adrian Bromage, and Bland Tomkinson. Editors.  Realities of Educational Change: Interventions to Promote Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.  London: Routledge.
Freedberg, S., R.M. Bowden, M.A. Ewert, D.R. Sengelaub and C.E. Nelson. 2006. Long-term sex reversal by oestradiol in amniotes with heteromorphic sex chromosomes. Biology Letters. Doi:10.1098/rsbl.206.0454 4pp.
Freedberg, S., M.A. Ewert, B.J. Ridenhour, M. Neiman, C.E. Nelson. 2005. Nesting fidelity and molecular evidence for natal homing in the freshwater turtle, Graptemys kohni. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 272:1345-1350.
Nelson, C.E. 2004. Doing It:  Selected Examples of Several of the Different Genres of SOTL. Journal of Excellence in College Teaching. 14 (2-3): 85-94.
Ewert, M.A., Etchberger, C.R., and Nelson, C.E. 2004. Turtle sex determining modes and TSD Patterns, and some TSD pattern correlates. Chapter 3 (pp 21-32). In: Valenzuela, N. and V. Lance, Eds. Temperature Dependent Sex  Determination in Vertebrates. Smithsonian Books. Washington D.C.
Alters, B.J., Nelson, C.E. 2002. Perspective: Teaching evolution in higher education. Evolution. 56:1891-901.
Klukowski, M. & C.E. Nelson. 2001. Ectoparasite loads in free-ranging northern fence lizards, Sceloporus undulatus hyacinthinus: Effects of testosterone and sex. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 49:289-295.
Nelson, C.E.  1999. On the persistence of unicorns: The tradeoff between content and critical thinking revisited. In B.A. Pescosolido and R. Aminzade, Eds.,  The Social Worlds of Higher Education:  Handbook for Teaching in a New Century.  Pine Forge Press.
Romero, G.A. and C.E. Nelson. 1986. Forcible Pollen Emplacement And Male Flower Competition Sustain  Sexual Dimorphism in Catasetum Orchids. Science 232:1538-1540.

View more publications »

Copyright © 2017 | The Trustees of Indiana University | Copyright Complaints | Privacy Notice Intranet | Site Index | Contact Us