Rob Nelson is a biologist by training and currently acts as the director of Untamed Science. He is one of the lead producers for the videos produced on this site. He also writes and coordinates content for the website. He is the principle director and part time host of the YouTube channel. He is also the lead director for the High School Biology BioAdventures series for the Miller/Levine Biology textbook, the Middle Grades Science BioAdventures series and is a co-producer for the new Elementary Science BioAdventures series.
Rob began his ecogeek career as a marine scientist. He earned a bachelors degree in Marine Science from the University of Miami. He spent a year studying in Australia at James Cook University in 1999 where he met fellow producer and ecogeek co-host Jonas Stenstrom. He later got a masters degree at the University of Hawaii where he studied the behavioral and population ecology of the Hawaiian Shrimp Goby and how they interact with predators like hammerhead sharks.
Rob’s time in Hawaii was spent doing research and making films of both his and his colleagues findings. Since he enjoyed science and filmmaking he decided to mold both passions together and got accepted to do a masters in Science Filmmaking at Montana State University’s Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program.
Read more about how Rob got started in wildlife filmmaking
In all the Untamed Science series Rob is known for his efforts in combining extreme sports with science. While it might seem like a leap to most (or not), Rob is the first to try and combine them. He has skills in multiple sports that the team has used to tell the science stories including whitewater kayaking, snowboarding, SCUBA diving, hang gliding, skydiving, wake-boarding, cross-country skiing, slalom skiing, bare-footing, open ocean swimming, parkor, road cycling and mountain biking. We asked Rob to explain why he tries to incorporate some sort of extreme sport into every video
“I don’t include these sports in our videos as a kind of cheesy, extreme intro. I include the sports I love to do because I love doing them and I think it’s a great way to explain the science. First, its a great excuse to get out and do some of my sports while making a video – which keeps me sane. Second, I want people to realize that you can do sports while thinking about the science around you. Some of the videos we do have a natural connection. For instance, Jonas and I took up skydiving with the intent to tell the story of gravity. What a better visual than the two of us falling through the sky. We’re not great at it yet, but we are certified to jump at night!”
“I also think that most of the sports that we call extreme sports, aren’t really all that extreme. Everybody can do them – it’s just not as mainstream. Besides the science, we wanted to show students that they can do these sports too. Take hang-gliding for instance. It’s a great sport and the equipment is relatively simple. The hang-gliding experts I talked to however, said that participation in the sport is dropping. They’re not sure why, other than the fact that people just don’t know about it. We have a great ability in these videos to get some of these sports into the eyes of the public and we’re happy that we can find good ways to do it. Hang-gliding by the way, is a great sport to explain concepts of the atmosphere and air currents!”
We asked Rob what is one thing he is passionate about. He told us that one of the many things he loves doing is SCUBA diving. We asked if he could write a brief story about what diving has meant to him and about how he has used diving to inspire students around the world. Here is what he said…
In 2010 Rob got married to one Haley Chamberlain (now Haley Nelson). They work together, creating science and nature videos everywhere they go. Here is a short video profiling both of them.
Rob Nelson is President, co-founder, and lead producer of Untamed Science. Over the past 3 years, Rob and his diverse, international production team have hosted and created over 300 exciting, adventure-based science videos for use in classrooms all over the world.
Rob began his career as a marine scientist and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science from the University of Miami. He spent a year studying in Australia at James Cook University in 1999, and he later earned a Masters degree while teaching and researching at the University of Hawaii. Rob discovered his passion for filmmaking at an early age, and it was only natural to find a way to intertwine it with his passion for telling the stories of science in an exciting way. In the midst of current productions, he is finishing his Masters of Science Filmmaking at Montana State University’s Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program.
While Rob enjoys most outdoor sports and activities, he has become a persistent student of several extreme sports – including wakeboarding, whitewater kayaking, skydiving, rock climbing, hang gliding, free diving, triathlons, and cycling… just to name a few.