Professor Paul Danheim Nelson was born August 19, 1927 at Blue Rapids, Kansas, and lived on the family farm until leaving for college. He attended Kansas State University from 1946-52, earning a BS in 1950 and an MS in 1952, with emphasis on structural and linear pattern geology.
As an upperclassman, he sat two wildcat exploration wells in the Manhattan area. That experience was noted when he interviewed for jobs in Tulsa. He was hired by the old Carter Oil Company and worked as an exploration geologist in Denver and Durango, Colorado. While in Durango, he became a life member of the AAPG in 1954.
After seven years in the oil industry, he started teaching general science and arithmetic in Idaho Falls. A year later, he taught in Boise, Idaho in the vocational tech program, and geology. While in Boise, he consulted for local companies on several gold and mineral prospects.
In 1967 he moved to Missouri where he became a professor for the St. Louis Community College District, teaching earth science, environmental geology, mathematics and various geography courses.
On May 13, 1999, he retired after spending more than 50 years practicing and teaching geology, environmental geoscience, and economics for natural resources.
Since his retirement, he had initiated philanthropic interests related to geologic education. He visited Kansas State University after his retirement, for the purpose of establishing the Danheim Nelson Scholarship/Fellowship and the Danheim Nelson Equipment Fund. It was his ultimate intention to endow a geology chair, the first for the Kansas State Geology Department and the second for Kansas State University.
The Paul Danheim Nelson Memorial Grant is awarded annually, with first preference given to a deserving graduate student whose study relates to impact geology; environmental geology; resource development, management and conservation, including hydrocarbons; geology of landscapes and formation (buried streams and valleys); or linear pattern geology and/or geologic development of landscapes. This Grant is awarded through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid program and is endowed by the AAPG Foundation, through generous contributions from Paul Danheim Nelson.