Gil Nelson

Gil Nelson's BIO


Gil Nelson is a writer, naturalist, educator, and researcher who works in Tallahassee, Florida and lives in southwest Georgia. He writes, speaks, edits, and consults on botany, natural history, ecology, outdoor recreation, and environmental science topics, especially as they relate to Florida and the southeastern United States. He holds a faculty position at Florida State University in the Institute for Digital Information and Scientific Communication. He specializes in digitization research and practice for the National Science Foundation's Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio).

His single author books include Atlantic Coastal Plain Wildflowers and East Gulf Coastal Plain Wildflowers, both published by Globe Pequot Press, Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants, published by University Press of Florida, and Ferns of Florida, Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida, Trees of Florida, 2nd edition, Exploring Wild Northwest Florida, and Exploring Wild North Florida, all of which have been published by Pineapple Press. He is co-author of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1998), the National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southeast (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1999), the National Wildlife Federation's Field Guide to Trees of North America (Sterling Publishing, 2008), and a contributor to Florida Wetland Plants: An Identification Manual (University of Florida, Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences). One of his newest books, Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens (University Press of Florida), published in 2010, is a guide to the use of native plants throughout the southeast.

In 1999 he coordinated the layout and design and served as primary photographer for Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Florida, published by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, an agency for which he frequently conducts rare plant surveys and for whom he has developed a database management systems for reporting and tracking exotic pest plants and conservation lands.

He has written for a number of national and regional periodicals including Backpacker Magazine, Blue Ridge Country, Florida Wildlife, Georgia Journal, Louisiana Conservationist, Nature Photographer, and Tennessee Conservationist, and has written several feature articles for The Tallahassee Democrat.

Nelson is past editor of Sabal Minor, the bimonthly newsletter of the Florida Native Plant Society. He served as the program chair for the 1995 FNPS conference and as conference director for the 2002 FNPS conference, both of which were held in Tallahassee. His memberships include American Horticultural Society, Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), Georgia Botanical Society (where presently on the board), Georgia Native Plant Society, Southern Appalachian Botanical Society, and St. Marks Refuge Association. He has served on the board and is a past president of the St. Marks Refuge Association, as member at large on the FNPS board of directors, as president of the local Tallahassee Chapter of FNPS, and in 2005 was named an FNPS Mentor, one of the Society's highest recognitions. He speaks to and leads field trips for a variety of groups including numerous FNPS chapters, as well as the Georgia Native Plant Society, Florida Museum of History, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Florida Trail Association, St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia Botanical Society, the Georgia Conservancy, Mounts Botanical Garden, and the Cullowhee Conference for Native Plants in the Landscape.

Nelson is a field botanist and holds a courtesy faculty appointment at the Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida State University, where he has taught graduate courses in ecosystems of Florida, assisted in the development of the herbarium's online database, and currently oversees the Deep South Plant Specimen Imaging Project, a National Science Foundation funded initiative. He has taught computer programming and relational database design and programming and GIS and is particularly interested in the design and maintenance of botanical/biological database management systems. He maintains PanFlora, an extensive, image-rich database of the vascular flora of the Florida panhandle, greater Florida, and adjacent geographic areas, as well as information about southeastern woody plants. In September 2006 the board of the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy named him a Beadel Fellow and enlisted his assistance with refining and re-designing the database management system for the station's research herbarium, the work for which continues. Much of the work at TTRS was supported by a National Science Foundation grant to database and image Tall Timbers' plant, butterfly, mammal, and bird collections.

In November 2011 Nelson joined the Florida State University College of Communication faculty as a Assistant Professor for Research in the Institute for Digital Information and Scientific Communication. He specializes in biological collections digitization and work flows for iDigBio (Integrated Digitized Biocollections) as part of the National Science Foundation's national resource for Advancing the Digitization of Biological Collections.

Nelson holds BS, MS and PhD degrees from Florida State University and worked as a professional educator for 30 years. He currently resides near the community of Beachton in southwest Georgia.