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1978 …2021

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Personal profile


Professor Peter Nelson is Pro-Vice Chancellor, (Research Performance and Innovation) and a Professor of Environmental Studies at Macquarie University.

As Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research (P&I), Professor Nelson oversees the development and implementation of strategies to facilitate research innovation, build research capacity and optimise the University’s research assessment and metrics capabilities.

As a Scientist, Professor Nelson has more than 30 years’ experience in research on the assessment and control of air pollution and on environmental issues associated with energy production and use. In recent years Peter has developed a program of research on mercury, a toxic trace metal with a variety of industrial sources, and long-standing use in industrial processes and commercial products. In 2013 the United Nations agreed on a Convention for mercury management and Peter’s research contributed to Australia’s understanding of this issue. Peter has subsequently led the development of the United Nations Environment Programme guidelines on best available techniques and best environmental practices for controlling non-ferrous metal smelting. He is currently a member of the expert group preparing the 2018 Global Mercury Assessment and co-lead of the UN Environment Partnership on mercury from Coal Combustion.

Professor Nelson was Project Leader (Emissions and Waste) in the CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development (CCSD). He has managed projects for NERDDP, ACARP, Pacific Power, ICI, NSW Environmental Research Trusts, RTA, Commonwealth EPA, NSW EPA, Federal Airports Corporation and the National Greenhouse Inventory Committee. Peter is the author of more than 120 peer reviewed journal papers, 130 conference papers and 100 reports to government agencies and industry on aspects of fuel and atmospheric chemistry and urban and industrial air pollution measurement, assessment and control.

Professor Nelson was appointed Professor of Environmental Studies, Macquarie University in 2001, and was Director of the Graduate School of the Environment 2001-2008, Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Science 2008-2013, Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science 2014-2015. He was previously Senior Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO Energy Technology, where he managed projects on energy and the environment, air pollutant measurement, mechanism of formation and control. He completed a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Sydney. He has subsequently pursued his equal interest in the Humanities and holds a BA in English Literature from Macquarie University.

Research interests

atmospheric chemistry

air pollution measurement, assessment, management and control

sources, transport and fate of mercury in the environment

emissions of biogenic organic compounds from vegetation

environmental impacts of coal combustion



Education/Academic qualification

Graduate Member, GAICD, Australian Institute of Company Directors

Award Date: 30 Apr 2016

English Literature, BA, Macquarie University

Award Date: 30 Apr 1994

Physical Chemistry, PhD, Coal Pyrolysis at High Heating Rates, University of Sydney

Award Date: 15 Apr 1989

Inorganic Chemistry, BSc (Hons), University of Sydney

Award Date: 1 Apr 1975

External positions

• Co-lead UN Environment Partnership on Mercury Control in Coal Combustion, UN Environment

Mar 2017 → …

Lead author, BAT/BEP Guidance for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, UN Environment


Member Expert Group for the Global Mercury Assessment, UN Environment


• Science Leader (Environmental Risk) , Australian National Low Emission Coal Research and Development (ANLECR&D)

2008 → …

Foundation President, Australian Council of Environmental Deans & Directors


Program manager Education, Co-operative Research Centre for Coal in Sustainable Development (CCSD)


Project Leader Emissions and Waste, Co-operative Research Centre for Coal in Sustainable Development (CCSD)


Program Manager, Emissions and Waste, Co-operative Research Centre for Black Coal Utilisation


Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO



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