In Memoriam: Sergio Lopez


by Morgan Cox, CHP, and Joe McDonald

The entire health physics community lost a good friend, colleague, and contributor on 5 April 2008 when Sergio Lopez passed away at age 57.

Sergio worked in the broad field of health physics activities for over 30 years, beginning in Chile, later in Canada, and finally in the United States. Sergio earned his technical degree from the University of the North in Arica, Chile.

His early career included work for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) as an engineer focused on satellite tracking and command operations. He then emigrated to Canada in 1975 and worked for Ontario Hydro, the nuclear utility in that province, from 1976 to 1993. During that period Sergio earned a certificate in radiological sciences and protection from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He also completed all of the necessary academic and experience requirements to become licensed as a professional engineer in Ontario, Canada.

During his tenure at Ontario Hydro, Sergio managed nuclear instrumentation qualifications and developed new and improved radiological instruments used at Canadian nuclear power plants. His projects included the implementation of electronic dosimeters with telemetry and the development of portable high-voltage detectors needed by personnel of utilities working on extremely high-voltage lines. He was awarded two Canadian patents resulting from the development and deployment of these life-saving voltage detectors. Sergio was a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Canadian Standards Association.

Sergio joined Merlin Gerin Provence Instruments (MGPI) in 1993 as the leader of research and development for the American subsidiary. During his 15-year career with MGPI, he participated in two significant American National Standards Institute Committee 42 standards: (1) ANSI N42.32 (2006)—Performance Criteria for Alarming Personal Radiation Detectors for Homeland Security and (2) ANSI N42.49 (in development)—Performance Criteria for Personal Emergency Radiation Detectors (PERDs) for Exposure Control.

He also contributed in the development of continuous radioactive airborne monitors, electronic dosimetry, robotic calibration systems, wireless remote monitoring systems, and other specialized relevant instrumentation for his company. Sergio's participation in these standards-development writing groups was characterized by his perceptive insights into problems and his ability to suggest how consensus could be reached when differences of opinion arose. These were rare and valuable skills imbued in a very generous and cordial gentleman. His friends will recall his informative and entertaining persona and his great sense of humor. He will be greatly missed.