After completing his degree in Agricultural Science, with Honours in soil science (1987), Paul Nelson carried out research to determine the sources of dissolved organic matter in streams (Australian Centre for Water Treatment and Water Quality Research, Adelaide), and the changes in bioavailability of soil organic matter with depth (INRA, Dijon, France). In 1993-1996 he completed a PhD on the nature and roles of organic matter in sodic soils (University of Adelaide, Australia). Post-PhD, he produced a toolkit for diagnosis and management of sodic soils in the Australian sugar industry (Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Ayr, and CSIRO, Townsville). In 2001 he was appointed Senior Agronomist with the Papua New Guinea Oil Palm Research Association, where he managed their national agronomy research program. In 2004 he again returned to Australia, joining James Cook University and the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water in Cairns/Mareeba. In 2010 he became a full time academic at James Cook University, where he teaches soil science and carries out research to improve sustainability of tropical agricultural systems, in particular to improve soil biological health, runoff water quality and the carbon and nitrogen balances. Most of his research is in collaboration with agricultural industries in tropical Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, particularly bananas, sugarcane, oil palm and cocoa.