A headshot photo of Randy Nelson.

Randy Nelson, PhD

Professor & Chair; Hazel Ruby McQuain Chair for Neurological Research

Contact Information

PO Box 9303
108 Biomedical Road
Morgantown, WV 26506


  • Department of Neuroscience
  • Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

Graduate Training

  • PhD, Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
  • PhD, Endocrinology, University of California, Berkeley


  • Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Texas, Austin

Research Interests

Dr. Nelson holds the Hazel Ruby McQuain Chair for Neurological Research in the WVU School of Medicine and is director of basic science research in the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, as well as across the University. He also serves as a professor and inaugural chair in the new Department of Neuroscience.

Dr. Nelson earned his AB and MA degrees in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a PhD in Psychology in 1983, as well as a second PhD in Endocrinology in 1984, both from UC Berkeley. Dr. Nelson then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Reproductive Biology at the University of Texas, Austin. 

Dr. Nelson served on the faculty at The Johns Hopkins University from 1986 until 2000, where he was a professor of psychology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and molecular biology. He then served on the faculty at The Ohio State University from 2000 - 2018, during which time he served as Distinguished University Professor, as well as the co-director of both the Neuroscience Research Institute (2014-2018) and the Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program (2003-2009). He was also the faculty lead of the Chronic Brain Injuries Discovery Theme. 

Dr. Nelson has published over 400 research articles and more than 10 books describing studies in biological rhythms, behavioral neuroendocrinology, and immune function. Current studies focus on circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are endogenous biological rhythms of about 24 hours and are a fundamental characteristic of life. Although life evolved over the past 3-4 billion years under bright days and dark nights, humans have been able to interrupt this natural light-dark cycle for the past 130 years or so with bright light at night. The laboratory studies the effects of these disrupted circadian rhythms on several parameters including immune function, neuroinflammation, metabolism, sleep, and mood. Current projects in the lab include: prenatal and early life effects of light at night on metabolism and immunity, and disruption of circadian rhythms on neuroinflammation associated with cardiac or cancer development and treatments. 

Google Scholar Articles

PubMed Articles

Cover of Biological Implications of Circadian Disruption: A Modern Health Challenge

Cover of Biographical History of Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Cover of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Neuroendocrine and Autonomic Systems

Cover of An Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology

Recent Publications

Follow our lab on Twitter: @DeVriesNelsonWV

Google Scholar
Pub Med







Recent Books

  • Nelson, R.J. 2019. (Hormones and Behavior section editor). Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. Second Edition. Elsevier Major Reference Works, Oxford, UK.
  • Nelson, R.J. (Editor). 2022. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press.
  • Nelson, R.J. & Kriegsfeld, L.J. 2022. An Introduction to Behavioral Endocrinology. Sixth Edition. Sinauer Associates, An imprint of Oxford University Press: Sunderland, MA.
  • Nelson, R.J. & Weil, Z.M. (Editors). 2023. Biographical History of Behavioral Neuroendocrinology. Springer Nature, New York.
  • Fonken, L.F. & Nelson, R.J. (Editors). 2023. Biological Implications of Circadian Disruption: A Modern Health Challenge. Cambridge University Press (In press).