Natalie Nelson

Associate Professor

Dr. Natalie Nelson is an Associate Professor and  University Faculty Scholar  in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department at NC State. She is also Principal Investigator of the Coastal & Watershed Analytics Lab. She received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering with a concentration in Interdisciplinary Hydrologic Sciences from the University of Florida. Dr. Nelson joined BAE in August 2017.


B.S. 2012

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

University of Florida

Ph.D. 2017

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

University of Florida

Research Description

Dr. Nelson’s research focuses on characterizing and modeling nonpoint source pollution in inland and coastal waters, and takes a watershed-scale approach to studying where and why nonpoint source pollution occurs. More specifically, studies in her lab investigate: (1) How agricultural and maricultural systems influence, and are influenced by, water quality; (2) Ways in which climate-driven changes in freshwater and sea level affect water quality and biota; and (3) Methods for combining models (statistical, machine learning, process-based) and environmental monitoring data to create decision-support tools for natural resource managers.

Honors and Awards

  • Rising Star in Environmental Research, ACS Environmental Au, 2024
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2021
  • Goodnight Early Career Innovator, 2021
  • University Faculty Scholar, 2021
  • Early Career Research Fellow, Gulf Research Program, NASEM, 2020
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellow, 2012


STC: Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center
National Science Foundation (NSF)(10/01/21 - 9/30/26)
CAREER: Characterizing the Unseen Water Quality Consequences of Sunny-Day Floods in Nearshore Waters
National Science Foundation (NSF)(8/01/21 - 7/31/26)
Cultivating A Resilient Workforce By Integrating A Culturally Competent Community Of Scholarship & Data Science in Food & Agricultural Research
USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)(1/15/21 - 1/14/26)
FARM BILL: NRI: INT: Towards the Development of a Customizable Fleet of Autonomous Co-Robots for Advancing Aquaculture Production
National Science Foundation (NSF)(11/01/20 - 10/31/25)
Towards Real-Time Fecal Indicator Bacteria Monitoring in Coastal Waters
US Army Corps of Engineers(3/04/22 - 3/04/25)
Improving Crop Productivity and Value Through Heterogeneous Data Integration, Analytics, and Decision Support Platforms
Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for Plant Sciences (GRIP4PSI)(2/17/20 - 12/31/24)
Future of Aquatic Flows: Exploring Changes in the Freshwater/Saltwater Interface and its Impacts to Aquatic Species
US Geological Survey (USGS)(10/01/22 - 9/30/24)
Unifying biological and environmental data streams to monitor emerging lepidopteran resistance to genetically engineered crops
USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)(9/01/20 - 8/31/24)
Coupling Lake, Watershed, and Estuarine Models to Better Understand the Role of Engineered Freshwater Discharges in Driving the Severity, Location, and Timing of Harmful Algal Blooms
Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC)(9/29/21 - 8/28/24)
FACT: Developing Data-to-Decision Pipelines for Agroecosystem Management through High-performance Computing and Big Data Analytics
USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)(8/01/19 - 7/31/24)