Dr. John D. Nelson

Emeritus Professor


Dr. John D. Nelson

Dr. Nelson is Professor Emeritus of Colorado State University having served on the faculty for 39 years. He was a founding partner of Shepherd Miller, Inc., prior to forming Engineering Analytics after retiring from CSU.

Dr. Nelson has a broad range of experience dealing with expansive and collapsible soils and mill tailings dams, He also has experience regarding landslides and slope stability, compacted fills, soft soils, seepage and water movement in soils, and design of embankment dams.

He is the senior author of two books, including Foundation Engineering for Expansive Soil and Expansive Soils: Problems and Practices in Foundation and Pavement Engineering. He has served as expert witness on numerous cases dealing with construction defects related to expansive soil, collapsible soil and slope stability.

He has also testified in cases relating to dams and mill tailings management. He was the Chief Technical Reviewer for the USNRC for the Church Rock tailings dam failure. He is the engineer of record for the design of raises of tailings dams in Arkansas and New Mexico. He testified in Federal Court on litigation involving failure of a tailings dam in Idaho. He was also the designated expert for litigation involving seepage from large tailings impoundments in Arizona. Most recently he served as the designated expert regarding the Mount Polley Tailings Dam Failure in British Columbia.

He is the author of more than 100 technical papers and reports.

Research Interests

  • Expansive and collapsible soils
  • Tailings managment
  • Soils and foundations in arid climates


  • B.S. 1960, Illinois Institute of Technology – Civil Engineering
  • M.S. 1962, Illinois Institute of Technology – Civil Engineering
  • Ph.D. 1967, Illinois Institute of Technology – Civil Engineering