Degree: Physics PhD
Job: Founder of Quench Medical
Bryce's parents were in the medical field: a nurse and a physician. He first learned about physics as a kid. "A 'Fun with Physics' book planted the physics bug in my brain as a child. I've always been intent on learning about how the universe works," Bryce says. This early interest was enforced by great teachers like Jack Ryan and Jon Barber in high school.
After high school, Bryce headed to Northwestern University and enrolled as a dual degree student in music and physics. If this sounds like an overwhelming combination, it was! "[I] quickly learned that focusing on one at a time was essential," says Bryce. He chose to drop the physics major, and graduated with a Bachelors in Music. He then returned to the University of Minnesota to pursue physics and astrophysics as a second time undergraduate. That's right, college twice. Bryce enjoyed his second major, saying "I loved the intertwining of the two physics majors, the awe of the vast unsolved problems in the cosmos and the insanity of happenings at the quantum mechanical scales."
Bryce continued at the University of Minnesota as a pyhysics graduate student. He took a non-physics course in Biomedical Engineering called "Neural Engineering" and he "got hooked on how I could apply my physics problem solving tools in a biological context." As a son of a physician and a nurse, the medical realm felt comfortable.
That course led to a dissertation pathway in the Biomedical Engineering lab of Tay Netoff, examining the underlying mechanisms of electrical periodic forcing of networks of neurons to address neurodegenerative diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson's. Bryce enjoyed the work, and after earning his PhD he realized that he wanted to continue developing potential therapies for medical conditions, but he didn't know much about how to start a company.
Branching Out On His Own
As a post-doc, Bryce joined the Medical Devices Center at the U of M as a Senior Fellow where he learned about innovating novel medical devices and the process of starting a medical company. This bridged the gap between his technical know-how and entrepeneurial dreams. Shortly after, he founded the company Quench Medical, which develops novel inhaled therapies for better treating lung diseases like asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, and lung cancer. Bryce finds the work very satisfying, and finds his physics education invaluable. "The complexity of biology is staggering and I still use my basic physics problem solving skills on a daily basis," he says. "The difficulty of gracefully completing physics degrees parallels real life: keep trying new ways of solving the problems and don't give up...that's the way to succeed!"