Geology Alum Returns to Campus as GLBRC Associate Director

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) has hired Tina Nielsen, 2008 geology Ph.D. graduate, as Associate Director to help elevate the Center’s efforts. Her combined experience in research, scientific instruction and university-industry relations makes her a promising addition to the GLBRC. She joins the only DOE-funded bioenergy research center led by a university at its base of operations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison – a campus with which Nielsen is already familiar.

“We’re thrilled to have Nielsen on board,” announced Timothy Donohue, Director of the GLBRC. “She brings experience from both her work at major research universities, including UW-Madison, and directly from the energy industry to this new position at GLBRC.”

The Associate Director position, Donohue continued, will complement the director with an increased focus on research and technology transfer. Experience was needed in modern science, deliverable technologies, cross-disciplinary research and scientific program development – all areas in which Nielsen has proven her expertise through past experience.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, Nielsen taught biology in Michigan for three years before returning to school to receive her Master of Science in Marine Geology, Oceanography and Geochemistry from the University of Michigan. Nielsen continued her education with a Ph.D. in Marine Micropaleontology from the University of Wisconsin.

“I have always been curious about the world around me,” recounted Nielsen on her path to the geological sciences. “I [taught] science for three years but the yearning to get back out into nature’s laboratory kept calling.”

Throughout her education, Nielsen maintained numerous teaching and outreach positions within departments of the natural sciences at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan. Whether assisting the instruction of a geoscience class or connecting students to real-life opportunities, she deeply understands the need for and responsibility of ambassadors in science.

“Some of my most enjoyable [experiences],” happily admitted Nielsen,  “came from the support I was able to provide to various departments, students and student groups; be it with funds, data sets, technical presentations or an honest conversation on a potential career path after their time in Madison.”

Immediately following the completion of her Ph.D., Nielsen was hired as a geoscientist with BP. In her six years of residency with the oil and gas company, she conducted numerous high-profile geologic explorations both home and abroad, taught several training and field courses internally and fostered strong industry relations while coordinating BP’s involvement with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Throughout all of her profession experience, she never lost ties to her home institutions working as a BP Campus Champion at Wisconsin and as a member of the University of Michigan Earth and Environmental Sciences Alumni Advisory Board.

“I am excited to return to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and begin working for the GLBRC where ground-breaking research is being performed”, exclaimed Nielsen, “To bring my diverse science background and different perspective to the Center while encouraging continued excellent communication, teamwork and out of the box collaborations.”

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