The link between Hollywood and science at A.P.E.X. event

In her Ask. Ponder. Educate. [X]. hour on Nov. 11, Dr. Nelson told the audience of her journey from volunteering to “Breaking Bad” science advisor.

When Nelson initially volunteered thanks to a magazine article, she was an organic chemistry professor at Oklahoma University and very hesitant about working with a show where the main characters were making meth.

Now she has given lectures anywhere from Anaheim, California to Germany, helped write numerous books including “The Science Behind Breaking Bad” where she was listed as a coauthor due to her introductions at the beginning of each chapter and was the president of the American Chemical Society in 2016.

When she began her journey with the show, the first season had already aired and was considered a hit, leading her to doubt their need for her.

However, after reading the first script she received to review, she “knew they needed her,” Nelson said.

Throughout her time working for the show, she helped the writers to understand both scientists and chemistry while simultaneously learning to understand the vocabulary of Hollywood herself. Nelson aligned herself with their goals and did everything in her power to allow the creators to have a hit show.

Though she worked towards their goals, she had an issue of her own that she hoped to push to the forefront of the show.

“The general public does not appreciate science and scientists,” Nelson said, and much to her excitement, it was in the first episode of season four, “Box Cutter,” that Walter White, the main character of the show, stated just that–expressing to audiences everywhere what Nelson believed.

To end her presentation, Nelson offered advice to the audience.

“Maintain honesty, ethics and integrity in everything you do in your professional and personal lives,” she said, referencing it as the most important advice she could give. She then followed with “dream big, be persistent, be ready and look for the gaps.”

More information on Nelson and other A.P.E.X. events can be found here


Article by: Audrey Gee