The Real Woman Behind Walter White

Dr. Donna Nelson doesn’t teach at high school, but her tenure as chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma is close enough. She’s been the science advisor for Breaking Bad since its second season and is behind much of the show’s technical chops. According to Vulture, she’s not only had a hand in balancing equations and keeping facts straight but also helping inform Walter White’s background and his tutorial lectures to students and sidekick Jesse Pinkman.

One of her first projects was redoing a lecture Walt was giving to his class on alkyne nomenclatures. “It was clearly not written by a chemist,” she said. “I wrote them back some general information, like a ‘How Do You Learn Alkyne Nomenclature in Under Two Minutes’ memo, and I was really shocked when they used it as dialogue almost verbatim.”

Nelson reached out to the show after creator Vince Gilligan gave an interview to Chemical and Engineering News where he admitted no one on the show had a scientific background, according to KPCC. She makes sure there aren’t any glaring inaccuracies to the science – except for the meth. Though the process shown on the show is mostly accurate – it’s an old method patented in Germany in 1957 – she told Vulture that they make sure to leave out steps. The actual product shown on the show is just cotton-candy-flavored sugar crystals, she told Salon.

Too bad.