C. Jerry Nelson

x2004 Academic 

Dr. C. Jerry Nelson, 2004 academic laureate and Curators’ Professor of Agronomy at the University of Missouri, has been described by one of his colleagues as “an architect of new approaches, a provocateur of new ideas and concepts, and a servant to and steward of the global food and agricultural system.”

Through his research on alfalfa and other forages, Nelson has advanced understanding of a number of plant growth and development factors leading to improved forage management and new areas of research on an international level. In partial retirement he continues to teach a freshman-level course on Orientation to the Plant Sciences and a graduatelevel course on Crop Physiology.

A native of southern Minnesota, Nelson earned his associate of arts degree from Austin Junior College in 1959. He went on to earn a bachelor’s of science and master of science degrees from the University of Minnesota and a doctor of philosophy degree in agronomy and biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. He had a one-year assignment at Cornell University as a visiting scientist after completing his Ph.D. In 1967, he joined the University of Missouri faculty.

His plant physiology research focuses on photosynthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and growth processes of forage grasses and legumes. He has mentored more than 50 graduate students and visiting scientists, published more than 200 research papers, co-authored five books, and received several awards for teaching and research. Nelson served as President of the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy and helped develop and was elected the first President of the International Crop Science Society.