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Professor Philip Nelson CBE FREng

Professor of Acoustics

Professor Philip Nelson's photo

Professor Philip Nelson is Professor of Acoustics within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Philip Nelson worked from 1970 to 1982 as a research, development and consulting engineer for a UK company specialising in noise and vibration control. During this period he also graduated from the University of Southampton with a first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and with a PhD in Sound and Vibration Studies.

He returned to Southampton to take up a lectureship in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) in 1982, being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1988 and Professor in 1994. He Chaired ISVR’s Acoustics Group from 1992, becoming the founder Director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Gas Turbine Noise in 1999. He became Director of the ISVR in 2001 and served as Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton from 2005-2013. In 2014 he was seconded to the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) where he was appointed Chief Executive Officer. He was made CBE for services to UK Engineering and Science in the 2018 New Years Honours List.

He has expertise in the areas of acoustics, vibrations, signal processing, control systems and fluid dynamics. His research interests include aeroacoustics, the active control of sound and vibration, flow control, inverse problems in acoustics, and spatial hearing. He has attracted research grants and contracts totalling over £10M, many of these being industrially sponsored. He has authored or co-authored two books, over one hundred and twenty articles in books and refereed journals, over thirty granted patents and over two hundred other technical publications. He is an experienced teacher at both undergraduate and post-graduate level and has successfully supervised over 30 Doctoral and 35 Masters students. He was awarded, by the UK Institute of Acoustics, the 1992 Tyndall Medal (jointly with S.J. Elliott) and the 2002 Rayleigh Medal. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics and a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2002. He served on the Panel for Mechanical, Aeronautical and Production Engineering in both the 2001 and 2008 Research Assessment Exercises and as Chair of the sub-panel for General Engineering in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. He was also a member of the Council of the Institute of Acoustics from 1991-2000 and of the Board of the International Commission for Acoustics from 2001, serving as President of the International Commission from 2004-2007. He has also served on the User Panel and the Strategic Advisory Network of EPSRC.

His portfolio as Pro Vice-Chancellor included University-wide responsibilities for research, enterprise, human resources and strategic planning. He was also responsible, from 2005-2008, for the University’s submission to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, for strategic management of University IT systems and for all aspects of health and safety management. He was also responsible for the development of University-wide research strategy, with the particular objective of increasing research income generation within University Faculties and of stimulating cross-disciplinary research through the initiation and development of University Strategic Research Groups. He took responsibility for the University’s submission to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. He also had oversight of the University’s enterprise activities, including the generation of spin out companies, the licensing of intellectual property and the development of relationships with industrial sponsors. He served as a member the boards of the University of Southampton Science Park Ltd., University of Southampton Holdings Ltd., Southampton Asset Management Ltd., and the Wyvern Seedcorn Fund. He also served on the CBI South East Regional Council, and the boards of Hampshire Economic Partnership and of the ‘SET-squared’ partnership of Southampton, Bristol, Bath and Surrey Universities. He has also served as a director of a number of spin out companies.

Research interests

Professor Nelson has particular research interests in the active control of sound and vibration, the automatic control of unsteady flow, inverse problems in acoustics with particular reference to noise source location and quantification, and multichannel signal processing techniques for the production of virtual acoustic environments.

Research group

Signal Processing, Audio and Hearing Group

Research project(s)

Acoustic source arrays for the generation of private sound zones with mobile devices

Acoustic source strength reconstruction in reverberant environments

Array signal processing for test cell acoustic measurements

Shaping the future of systems for personalized audio

Next Generation Recording Technology

Listener Position Adaptive Audio Reproduction

Fundamentals of spatial audio reproduction

Auralization combining finite element and geometrical acoustic methods

Describing sound scenes for next-generation audio

Diffuse Sound Field Representation

Beamforming applications in aeroacoustics

Nearfield Acoustical Holography

A compact and inexpensive virtual acoustics system for clinical and research evaluation of spatial hearing in cochlear implant and hearing aid users

The modelling of hearing impairment and the design of an array-based hearing aid

Compensated Amplitude Panning

Compression Driver Phase Plugs

Development of 3-channel OPSODIS 3D sound reproduction system

Externalisation of auditory images with in-ear transducers

Sound field reproduction with non-uniform source distributions

Virtual Acoustics in Hearing Aid Research

Development of a low-cost and small-footprint virtual acoustics system for evaluating spatial hearing outcomes for hearing aid and cochlear implant users in clinic.

Active Control of Sound and Vibration

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Book Chapters

  • Nelson, P. A. (2007). Sound sources. In M. J. Crocker (Ed.), Handbook of Noise and Vibration Control (pp. 43-51). John Wiley and Sons.
  • Nelson, P. A. (2004). Source identification and location. In F. Fahy, & J. Walker (Eds.), Advanced Applications in Acoustics, Noise and Vibration (pp. 100-53). Taylor & Francis.



Working Papers

Professor Philip Nelson
Filippo Fazi
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

Room Number : 13/3075

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