Julia W. Neilson, PhD

Co-Director, Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining

Associate Research Professor, Environmental Science

Julia W. Neilson, PhD, is an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Environmental Science. She is an Environmental Microbiologist whose primary research focus is understanding the significance of soil microbial diversity to ecosystem sustainability and the recovery of disturbed lands in arid and semiarid environments. Dr. Neilson was appointed director of CESM in 2018 with a vision to promote innovative solutions to the environmental and societal challenges of mineral extraction through research and educational collaborations between diverse scientists and industry. Dr. Neilson also serves on the Executive Committee of the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.

In conjunction with CESM, Dr. Neilson conducts research to understand the microbial ecology of mine waste reclamation and develop tools to quantify revegetation progress in response to different reclamation strategies.  Microbial communities function to either accelerate the success of plant establishment through enhanced fertility development or inhibit reclamation efforts through microbially-driven mine waste acidification. Research efforts are developing tools to quantify the critical microbial populations that impact the success of mine waste reclamation efforts.


  • PhD, Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona
  • MS, Soil and Water Science, University of Arizona
  • BA, Biology, Middlebury College, Vermont