Luther College alumnus Carson Bruns presents “Tattoos for health: The future of smart tattoos”

November 14, 2019

Have you ever considered the possibility that a tattoo could help charge a pacemaker? Luther alumnus Carson Bruns has. What about the possibility of a tattoo being able to detect harmful UV light or medical problems within your body? Well, Carson Bruns has thought about this too, but who is Carson Bruns?

Carson Bruns is 08' Luther graduate with degrees in chemistry and religion. Bruns had always planned to study chemistry but it is the flexibility and freedom of a liberal arts education which allowed him to delve into the study of religion.

            "It was the first time I'd ever looked at the Bible objectively and taken a more academic approach," said Bruns. "With a liberal arts education you have the flexibility and freedom to explore, so I thought I'd take another religion class."

            A J-Term trip to study Buddhism in Japan sparked Brun's interest in tattoos. After graduate school and a postdoctoral fellowship, Bruns began his work into the possibilities of pairing nanotechnology with tattooing. The question on his mind being, what sorts of problems could combining the two solve?

Following his postdoctoral fellowship at UC-Berkeley, Bruns was hired to direct the Emergent Nanomaterials Lab at Colorado Boulder's Atlas Institute. Now his team's work focuses on enhancing the functionality of tattoos. They are studying how tattoo inks can contain UV-sensitive dyes, heat-sensitive dyes and more.

            "In the future," Bruns said, "tattoos will not only be beautiful "” they'll be functional too."

Bruns hopes to continue work on electricity-conducting tattoos that can help support individuals with electronic biomedical implants. He also hopes to work on bio-detection tattoos that could alert medical professionals to issues occurring in our bodies.

To learn more, Bruns will present "Tattoos for health: The future of smart tattoos" at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, in Valders Hall of Science room 206. The presentation is open to the public with no charge for admission. A reception will follow.

This event is hosted by Vesterheim-The National Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center, in partnership with the Luther College Nordic studies and chemistry departments. It is presented in connection with the museum's exhibit "Tattoo: Identity Through Ink," sponsored by Nick and Courtney Rowley, with community partners Brock's Valhalla Tattoo and Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.

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