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Name: Bahr, Jean
Current Position: Chair

Dr. Jean Marie Bahr was appointed to the U. S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) on September 25, 2012, by President Barack Obama, who also chose her to serve as chair of the Board on January 5, 2017. NWTRB is an independent federal agency that conducts scientific and technical assessments of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) efforts to dispose of the nation’s commercial spent nuclear fuel and defense high-level radioactive waste.


Born circa 1954 to Rudolph R. Bahr, an electrical engineer, and Jane W. Bahr, Jean M. Bahr grew up in California. Her interest in environmental issues was piqued in high school when she went to a fair at Stanford University for the first Earth Day in 1970. She earned a B.A. in Geology and Geophysics at Yale University in 1976, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in applied earth sciences (hydrogeology) at Stanford University in 1985 and 1987 respectively.


After Yale, Bahr worked as a geologist at Wahler Associates in Palo Alto, California, from 1976 to 1980, where a two-year stint on a project in Mali convinced her to get her doctorate. As a Stanford grad student, Bahr worked as a research assistant and teaching assistant from 1980 to 1985, and also worked part-time as a hydrogeologist for Geologic Testing Consultants Ltd., in Ottawa, Canada, from 1982 to 1983, and as a hydrologist for the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, from 1984 to 1986. 


Bahr has been a professor in the Department of Geoscience (formerly Geology & Geophysics) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1987, where she is also affiliated with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on physical, geochemical, and biogeochemical controls on the movement of underground water. She served as chair of the Nelson Institute’s Water Resources Management Graduate Program from 1995 to 1999, and of the Geoscience Department from 2005 to 2008, and faculty co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering Residential Learning Community from 2003 to 2005.


Bahr has served on numerous advisory committees through the National Research Council of the National Academies. She was a member of the Board on Radioactive Waste Management from 1992 to 1997. She chaired the Committee on Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, and from 2004 to 2006 she was a member of the Committee on Research Priorities in Earth Science and Public Health. Bahr has also served on proposal review panels for the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the international Ocean Drilling Program. She served terms on the editorial boards of the journals Water Resources Research, Ground Water, and Hydrogeology.


Bahr was named a fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in 1996, and was elected president of GSA for 2009-2010.


Among the studies to which Dr. Bahr has contributed are “A reflection on the first 50 years of Water Resources Research” and “Using Groundwater Models to Evaluate Strategies for Drinking-Water Protection in Rural Subdivisions.”

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Interview with Jean Bahr: Education in Hydrogeology (

University of Wisconsin-Madison Personal Home Page of Dr. Jean Bahr

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