Robert Nelson, M.S., M.F.A.

Montana State University

  • Science and Natural History Filmmaking (M.F.A.) 2011

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

  • Zoology (M.S.) 2005

University of Miami

  • Biology (B.S.) 2000

I am a science filmmaker who started, and currently runs, a company called Untamed Science. That means I take topics in science and I find ways to make interesting and engaging films about them. My job is always a fun conversation to have on the plane. That's not just because it allows me to do interesting things, but also because I make stories about just about everything, including the very jobs of the people I talk to. One eventual question that seems to pop up is, "How does someone do what you do?" The question is a great one, but I've found the path to science filmmaking success isn't as cut as dry as most careers. 

Luckily for me, I came from a very strong science background, which included my master’s degree from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s (UH Mānoa) in Zoology. In fact, everything I do from the filmmaking to the online education can really be attributed to my time there. As a young laboratory Teaching Assistant in the Biology Program (now the Department of Biology), I was tasked with getting undergraduate students excited about the subject matter. I'm not exactly sure why I decided to grab my camera and take it with me into the Hawaiian outdoors, but I did. I started making films about sea urchins, snails and whatever the subject matter was to show the students interesting phenomenon. In the end, my time in Hawaii taught me what I was good at and what I enjoyed - making films about science for the public. That's what I spend my days doing now. I travel around the world and interact with so many amazing scientists and find ways to communicate it. I've never fully left my Hawaiian roots behind either. We shot two major series there over the last four years, I took my wife and cohost Haley Nelson there for our honeymoon, and two of our board members are former UH Mānoa Zoology alumni.  Sometimes, I think I should tell people that the best way to become an amazing science filmmaker is to obtain a Zoology graduate degree from the UH Mānoa Department of Biology first. 

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Content Type: 
Alumni Blog
Last Modified: 
05/05/2016 at 12:15pm