In Memoriam: Jeff Leavey


by Yuanqing Guo, CHP, Greg Herman, and Mark Linsley, CHP

Jeff Leavey, CHP, radiation safety officer (RSO) for the Pennsylvania State University, passed away on 30 September 2016 following an extended illness. In addition to hundreds of friends and colleagues, Jeff leaves behind two sons, Andrew and Bryce, and the love of his life and wife of 36 years, Barbara.

Jeff received his comprehensive certification from the American Board of Health Physics in 1988. His education included a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master of engineering in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a master of business administration (concentration in finance) from Marist College.

Jeff had an expansive professional health physics career that included serving as a radiological engineer at General Dynamics Corp. Electric Boat Division; nuclear engineer at Combustion Engineering; health physics research assistant at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; radiation and laser safety officer/staff industrial hygienist at IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center; advisory engineer at IBM 300mm Semiconductor Manufacturing Facility; radiation and nonionizing safety officer at Cornell University; principal radiological health engineer at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, Bechtel Marine Propulsion; RSO for Research at Columbia University; and RSO for the Pennsylvania State University.

Jeff authored numerous papers, held a patent (for an ultraclean transport carrier), and was involved in the following professional activities: American Board of Health Physics Panel of Examiners Part II, membership term 1993–1997; American National Standards Institute (ANSI) N43-1 Subcommittee on Radiation Safety for X-Ray Diffraction and Fluorescence Equipment—ANSI N43.2-2001, chair since 1991; Health Physics Society, plenary member since 1980.

Passionate about his chosen profession, Jeff left his mark on many people and places. A true scientist, he had a never-ending desire to learn. You could always see and feel his excitement when dealing with a new health physics challenge. Jeff loved helping people and always went above and beyond to ensure that others fully understood the information they needed to successfully complete their work. And he relished the opportunity to pass along his own knowledge through training others any chance he could.

The Annual Penn State Radiation Safety Roundtable was a highlight of Jeff's year. He assumed the responsibility of planning and organizing this event when he took over as the RSO and added his own special touches to the event. The things he added exemplified his enthusiasm and passion for the event as well as his love for the health physics community that attended.

Like many others in his profession, Jeff loved Monty Python. But it did come as a big surprise to him when during the 2014 conference he was ceremoniously enthroned as an official "Knight of the Roundtable!" In keeping with the Python theme, the event included just the right amount of pomp and circumstance and a requisite amount of abuse.

Outside of work, Jeff had a variety of other passions including his dogs, woodworking, fly-fishing, and science fiction, and possibly above all, he was an avid astronomer. With professional-grade telescopes, Jeff and his family would spend hours enjoying crystal-clear nights exploring the wonders and beauty of the universe. An avid reader, Jeff had an extensive book collection that he was eager to share with others before he left us, allowing him yet another opportunity to help others learn and grow.

His absence has left a void that cannot be filled. He will be greatly missed.

It was Jeff's request that instead of flowers a memorial contribution should be made to the Health Physics Society. An online donation can be made at the following address: The submission form has a required data entry field for "Affiliation." Please enter "In memory of Jeff Leavey."