Director of the Pontikes Center

Southern Illinois University



Pontikes Center Director

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Jim Nelson, Ph.D.

Jim Nelson, Ph.D., joined SIU in 2005 after more than ten years of industry experience and more than fifteen years of teaching and research experience.  He earned a bachelor of science in computer science from California Polytechnic State University and worked as an “operating system pathologist” at IBM Santa Teresa Labs and then as a project manager at a California software startup.  He went back to school at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in information systems.

It was at Colorado where he began his research career of conceptual modeling, cognitive science, very large databases, artificial intelligence, expert systems, and text mining.  He is now considered one of the leading researchers worldwide on cognitive and behavioral issues involving conceptual modeling.  Nelson specializes in field research, getting out of the office and visiting organizations of all sizes to collect real-time, real world, relevant research data.

As director of the Pontikes Center for Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence he coordinates the development and implementation of analytics courses in the online MBA, residential MBA and undergraduate business programs.  He serves as the point of contact for the Pontikes Center Board of Advisors consisting of executives responsible for analytics efforts in major companies across the Midwest.  He has coined the term “hunch mining” to address the area of cognitive analytics.

Nelson is an instrument rated private pilot and flies across the country visiting research sites and spreading the word about SIU and the Pontikes Center.