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Jeff Bryan

Contributor II
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Jeff C. Bryan was born in Minnesota and raised in California, and believes that his odd childhood mixture of Jell-O™ salad and reticence in a free and open society have caused his various personality quirks. He earned an A.B. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley with emphasis on organic chemistry and Scandinavian studies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington studying inorganic chemistry under the supervision of Jim Mayer. His thesis presented a new chemical reaction, the oxidative addition of multiple bonds to low-valent tungsten. He then spent a year of postdoctoral work with Warren Roper at Auckland University investigating iridium-carbon multiple bonds.

He spent five years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, initially as a postdoctoral fellow, then as a staff member. Under the supervision of Al Sattleberger, he initiated a modestly successful research program synthesizing new compounds of technetium. He then spent eight years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a crystallographer in Bruce Moyer’s chemical separations group. The major group project during that time was development of a process to separate Cs-137 from defense wastes. 

He joined the chemistry faculty of the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse in 2002, where, despite his best efforts, he has been promoted to full professor. He currently teaches nuclear and general chemistry courses. His scholarship focuses on making nuclear science more accessible to students with limited science and math backgrounds. As part of this effort, he has authored a textbook titled Introduction to Nuclear Science, and coauthored a lab manual titled Experiments in Nuclear Science. 

He is an engaging and entertaining speaker. He has given over 50 invited presentations at a variety of conferences and meetings including Gordon Conferences and National ACS meetings, and currently specializes in speaking to various groups on nuclear science.


Radiation: Myths and Misconceptions.

Ionizing radiation is commonly used in medical diagnostics and cancer treatment yet it is often misunderstood by patients, the general public, and even by scientists. This presentation will explore common radiation myths held by the general public as well as more technical misconceptions held by professionals that work with ionizing radiation. The presentation will use a quiz format to initiate discussion of these myths and misconceptions. Questions such as: “Is the human body naturally radioactive?” “Am I exposed to radiation every day?” “Is a diagnostic X-ray like a walk in the sun?” and “Can a high-energy photon beam be fully attenuated?” will be discussed in the context of the science and in terms of real and perceived risks.

Nuclear Science and Fiction in Star Trek.

Much of the Star Trek universe can be understood or disputed based on our current understanding of nuclear chemistry and physics. This presentation will examine "future" technologies such as photon torpedoes, transporters, and holodecks using contemporary nuclear science. We'll also look at antimatter as a power source/fuel, medical imaging and the possibility of superheavy elements. Finally, we'll boldly go where few scientists have gone before to try to understand what dilithium really is and what it does in a starship. Even if you're not a trekkie (or a trekker), don't worry, the context of each topic will be provided through video clips from the shows and movies. Engage!


A great deal of fear has been generated from the three core meltdowns and significant releases of radioactive material in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. This presentation will discuss what happened at the damaged reactors as well as the significant fallout from this event. Along the way, we’ll discuss some basic nuclear science, and attempt to put the outcomes into context.

Nuclear Waste.

What’s left over when fuel is removed from a nuclear reactor? What is the legacy of the nuclear arms race? How toasty is this stuff? Is it okay to bury it? Where should it be buried? There are many questions and concerns about nuclear waste. This presentation will work to answer them and examine nuclear waste in a broader context.

Depleted Uranium.

It has been implicated as a possible cause to a variety of ailments for veterans of the Gulf Wars. This presentation will explain what it is, where it comes from, what it is used for and why Gulf War vets were exposed to it. The talk will explore the nuclear and material science of depleted uranium as well as its main applications.

A Brief History of Ionizing Radiation.

How did Röntgen, Becquerel, and Curie discover ionizing radiation? What were the key technologies, insights and missteps? What did Rutherford add? We’ll follow these scientists’ (and others) achievements as they began to understand X-rays, radioactivity and the transformative nature of radioactive decay and nuclear reactions.


Department of Chemistry

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

La Crosse, WI, United States, 54601


Business: 608-785-8271

Home: 608-782-1005

Fax: 608-785-8281

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