Forensic Sciences Nelson Vinueza Benitez

Associate Professor, Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science

image of nelson vinueza

Contact Information

Textiles Complex 3120
Raleigh, NC

Nelson Vinueza joined NC State in August 2013 as a Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program cluster hire in Forensic Sciences. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science in the College of Textiles. Vinueza’s research focuses on the development of new mass spectrometric methods for the analysis of chemicals of forensic interest, such as dyes, inks, fibers, polymers and drugs.

Previously, Vinueza was part of the Proyecto Prometeo of Ecuador, which is an initiative of the Ecuadorian government to enhance the productivity and research of national institutions and to attract top scientists. As part of Prometeo, Vinueza joined the Ecuadorian Prosecutor’s Office to advance the area of forensic sciences. During this time, he managed the process of opening three new forensic national laboratories and demonstrating their capabilities to national authorities and to the national press. Vinueza was in charge of setting up the laboratories of chemistry, biology and histopathology, as well as training in the area of criminalistics, forensic and analytical chemistry for 45 new scientists of the three new forensic centers. These forensic labs are the first of their kind in Ecuador and will be part of a new network of forensic labs. Vinueza also designed a new class of forensic centers that are of lower complexity as part of the Ecuadorian forensic labs network.

Vinueza earned bachelor of science degrees in industrial chemistry and chemical engineering at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. He then earned his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from Purdue University, under the mentorship of Hilkka Kenttämaa. During this time, he studied the chemical reactivity of carbon-center tri- and tetraradicals as a way to design better cancer drugs. In 2010, Dr. Vinueza was a post-doctoral fellow of the Department of Energy (DOE) in the Center of Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3BIO), an Energy Frontiers Research Center, at Purdue University. During this time, Vinueza’s research focuses on the development of new mass spectrometry methods for the analysis of lignin and cellulose degradation products as well as bio-oil. He received the Multidisciplinary Award for Research Collaboration, a DOE-sponsored award to honor excellence in multidisciplinary and collaborative research.