Jordan Nelsen

Faces of IUPUI: Jordan Nelsen

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Jordan Nelsen works on a design. Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh. Reused by permission. Copyright 2019. Current Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

Since she was a little girl carrying a sketch pad and a pencil, 2018 IUPUI alumna Jordan Nelsen knew that she wanted to be an artist. As an IUPUI student in the Herron School of Art and Design and the School of Informatics and Computing, Nelsen's artistic tools and techniques evolved to include the use of a stylus instead of a pencil; digital sculpting techniques and 3-D design; and scanning and printing expertise — skills that she has put to use in unique and life-changing ways.

While working toward her bachelor of science degree in media arts and science, Nelsen became involved in facial prosthetic reconstruction research, collaborating for two years with prosthodontic resident Dr. Travis Bellicchi in the School of Dentistry to create facial prostheses for patients who have lost features due to cancer, burns, and congenital disorders. During that time, Nelsen played a critical role in 23 patient cases, including one where she digitally designed a prosthesis in less than 4 hours, which led to an unprecedented device delivery time of less than 24 hours.

"I have always been very interested in both anatomy and art. Finding a niche that satisfies both of those interests while also being able to directly impact people has been a dream come true," Nelsen said. "I've had the opportunity to work on a variety of patient cases, one of them involving the creation of a dental surgical guide that was the first of its kind in dentistry and in the world. I have been truly humbled by the work I've been able to be a part of."

"The level of commitment and professionalism that Jordan demonstrates is outstanding. She is an extraordinary artist," said Dr. Travis Bellicchi. "Still, what makes her truly special is her work ethic. I am so thankful we had the opportunity to work together. I look forward to further collaboration with her," he continued.

Jordan Nelsen shows off a 3-D printed mold that she designed.
Jordan Nelsen presents some of her work.
Jordan Nelsen takes a 3-D scan of a skull.

From top: Nelsen shows off a 3-D model she helped design; Nelsen helps present some of the prosthetic work she did with Dr. Travis Bellicchi; Nelsen takes a 3-D scan of a skull. Top photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh. Reused by permission. Copyright 2019. Current Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved; bottom photos courtesy of Jordan Nelsen

Nelsen also spent two years working with School of Medicine professor of neurological surgery Dr. Aaron Cohen-Gadol to complete 3-D medical visualizations for his Neurosurgical Atlas, an internationally renowned educational tool for the sharing and advancement of neurosurgical techniques.

In 2018, Nelsen was recognized as a Top 100 Outstanding Student and was selected to the Top 10 list for her academic achievements, campus involvement, and community service. Since graduation, Nelsen has launched her career as an illustrator and has continued to explore her medical work using emerging technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality.