Physics Training Leads to 'Star Trek' and Beyond

Andre Bormanis on set of Star Trek
Andre Bormanis on the set of Star Trek
Andre Bormanis is among the privileged few to have a biography listed on, of all things, the official Web site of Star Trek.

The physics-trained scriptwriter helped shape strange, new worlds when he served the “Enterprise”—initially as a science consultant for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.”

He later worked as a writer, story editor and producer for the last series, “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

He says serving as the Star Trek science consultant was simply a gig. But it soon developed into a successful one bolstered by his formal education in atoms, stars and globular clusters.

“Like physics, storytelling involves problem solving, formulating hypotheses, exploring unexpected connections between phenomena and seeking a solution,” explains Bormanis, who has a bachelor’s in physics from the University of Arizona and a master’s in science, technology and public policy from George Washington University.

After graduating with his undergraduate degree, he completed a year of post-baccalaureate study in physics and music composition. But he didn’t like studying physics in graduate school.

“I didn’t have a good reason for being there,” he says. “Graduate school was a fallback plan because I couldn’t get a job. But starting a Ph.D. in physics as a fallback plan is a bad idea.”

He eventually got a job in his hometown of Phoenix, but he couldn’t shake “the writing bug.”

Bormanis soon reconnected with friends who were comedy writers in Hollywood and was inspired to develop a script for Star Trek.

In 1993, like a scene from a movie, he got an agent on the phone and a job opportunity—the position of science consultant to the Star Trek series.

Bormanis’ mission at Star Trek was simple: Use his knowledge of science to make scripts believable within the realm of the Star Trek universe. His physics background was clearly an advantage in his science consulting job. Not only did he understand the technical “subjects” of time travel, phase shifting and tricorders, but he was also able to comprehend and apply terminology from other scientific specialties such as medicine, oceanography and geology.

Bormanis is currently pitching, writing and researching new television and film projects.

He easily rattles off the benefits of studying physics.

“It teaches you [how] to think logically, how to work through a problem and [how to] stick with it until you finish,” he says.

© 2007, Alaina G. Levine.