Jamie Gurney

Tell us about yourself

My name is Jamie Gurney and I live in Merritt Island, FL with my husband Jeff, where we have raised seven children together. I started my career in Health Physics at nuclear power plants as a Jr. Health Physics Technician.  From 1990 -1992, I worked at the University of Florida in the Environmental Health and Safety Department as a Radiation Control Technician. I returned to nuclear power plants for a few years before being hired at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 1997.

I received an Associates of Science degree in Radiation Protection Technology at Central Florida Community College in Ocala, FL in 1988. I received my Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration with Specialization in Management in 2001. I took my NRRPT in 2003 and CLSO in 2004.

Where do you work?

I am the Health Physicist for Integrated Mission Support Services at KSC. I have worked for the Environmental Health and Safety department there for 20 years, first as a Health Physics Specialist, then as a Health Physics Contractor/Consultant, and now as their Health Physicist.

I started working with lasers in 1997 when I came to KSC to work as a Health Physics Specialist. I had no real experience with lasers before that time. After a few years of working and getting my feet wet in laser safety hazard analysis, my boss suggested I take the CLSO exam. It was the best thing I could have done at the time for my career and has definitely opened doors to more career opportunities.

Currently I am not the LSO, as NASA has only one LSO, and I work for him as a contractor health physicist, offering my technical expertise and services in laser hazard evaluations among other health physics programs.

Has becoming certified helped you in your career?        

Until I was introduced to lasers and laser safety at KSC, I had no idea of the diversity of laser applications. The most challenging ones are usually the lasers that are used in outdoor situations in a dynamic environment. I am very fortunate to have stumbled upon this aspect of health physics and have enjoyed working with people from all over the country and seeing the innovations in laser technology that have occurred over the last 20 years.


John Sakaris

John Sakaris is the featured CMLSO in our Volume 10, issue 3 of our quarterly newsletter. Read more about him in his own words below…

Tell us about yourself

 John C. Sakaris RN CNOR CMLSO – I am currently the Laser Coordinator for Perioperative Services at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. I received my Associate of Applied Science Degree in 1967 and my Associate Degree in Nursing in 1976. I have been a CNOR for 25 plus years, and CMLSO since 2008.

 How did you become LSO?

I started working with lasers in the late 1970’s, specifically the CO2. At my previous position with the Memorial Hermann Hospital System, I was asked to be the MLSO. I agreed to take the position and was sent to a MLSO training course.

Do you like being the LSO?

I enjoy being the MLSO; I welcome any challenges and enjoy facing and resolving them.

Has becoming certified helped you in your career?

Being certified has given me a lot more credibility and the ability to network with other people in our field of Laser Safety.


*Meet John at ILSC, where he is scheduled to present “Something New Under the Sun for Holmium Laser Technology” during the Medical Practical Applications Seminar (MPAS).

Rod Nickell

Rod Nickell is the featured CLSO in our Volume 10, issue 3 of our quarterly newsletter. Read more about him in his own words below… 

My name is Rod Nickell; I live in Merritt Island, Florida with my beautiful wife Sherri and three sons Sam, Brett and Colby.

I graduated from Cumberland College in Kentucky and the University of Central Florida in Orlando with degrees in Biology and Radiologic Science, respectively.

I have over 30 years professional experience in the Health Physics profession. The majority of which were at the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC), where I managed the implementation of the Radiation Protection Programs (lasers, ionizing radiation and RF) as part of the Environmental and Medical support contract. Prior to working at KSC, I worked for private industry, the State of Florida, and the U.S. Air Force. My professional career encompasses both managerial experience over professional HP staff and technical experience in such areas as laser safety, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, preparation and inspection of radioactive material licenses, evaluation of high-power lasers, radiofrequency radiation, and space power applications.

I am a Certified Laser Safety Officer and this year was appointed as a National Fellow in the Health Physics Society. I currently work under NASA’s Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer as the Agency’s Health Physicist.  Being part of this great team with Great Southern Engineering is truly a capstone to my career.  As the CLSO, I serve on NASA’s Laser Safety Review Board (LSRB).  The LSRB collaborates with other NASA Centers CLSOs/LSOs on their laser research projects that involve outdoor laser operations. This board will help ensure laser safety remains an integral part of NASA’s laser research projects.

Being a CLSO was paramount in me being chosen for the Agency Health Physicist position.  BLS certification demonstrates to stakeholders that you have the specific knowledge, skills and commitment to the laser profession.

Mark Pflug

Tell us about yourself

I am Mark Pflug, MS, RPPT, CHMM, CLSO, CMLSO. I am the system-wide Radiation Safety Officer, MR Safety Officer, Environmental Safety Manager, and Deputy Laser Safety Officer for Cone Health (Greensboro, NC).

My career in safety and radiological health started after graduating high school when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and its Naval Nuclear Power Program. After serving 10 years in the submarine force, I began my civilian career working for hospital- and university-based programs. My previous employers include University of Utah, Purdue University, Yale University, and Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. I graduated with my Master’s Degree from Purdue University in Health Physics.

I am happily married to my beautiful wife Heather. Our family consists of three awesomeand talented children, two dogs, and one very scared cat.

How did you become LSO?

While at Purdue University, I taught laser safety, as well as radiation safety, to our lab users and students. At Northwestern Medicine, I was the LSO for our downtown hospital (Northwestern Memorial Hospital), Prentice Women’s Hospital, Lake Forest Hospital, and Grayslake facilities. I became certified as a CMLSO at Northwestern and organized the first laser safety committee for the hospital system. Working in health physics, lasers, and laser safety was a natural fit, as the worlds on ionizing and non-ionizing radiation collide.

Do you like being a CLSO and CMLSO?

There is great personal satisfaction knowing we have a cohesive safety program. I believe, as a team, we make a difference in our healthcare community. I must give high marks to our Cone Health Laser Safety Officer, Chris Dissinger. While I play a supportive role as the Deputy Laser Safety Officer, Chris is absolutely fantastic in his administration of our laser safety program. He is committed to having the best program possible and holds everyone to a higher standard. Together, we are a “(laser) tag-team” of safety.

I am happy to report, that at Cone Health, Laser Safety is taken very seriously with uncompromising backing and support. From our terrific nursing staff to our Medical Affairs Vice-president, Dr. Bill Bowman, MD, safety for medical-use lasers is of paramount importance. Authorized users must go through a rigorous credentialing program. Approvals of machines go through a stringent course of departmental sign-offs. I am very fortunate to have an organization that places patient and staff safety as a top priority. True actions and not mere motions are the hallmarks of a viable program. Through Chris Dissinger’s valiant efforts, we have created a strong laser safety culture.

Has becoming certified helped you in your career?

Certification in both CLSO and CMLSO have been instrumental in my role as the Radiation Safety Officer. With new machines and new emerging technologies, the world of laser safety is ever changing. Maintaining certification means continual education and instruction. Through organizations like BLS, one has the opportunity to learn new information and keep current with standards, rules, definitions, and regulatory compliance. Taking advantage of the resources of certification, I have been able to build a firm foundation of knowledge, which has, in turn, provided me a greater sense of confidence in implementing safety programs throughout of system.

Chris Dissinger

Tell us about yourself

I am Chris Dissinger, CBET, CMLSO. I started as a Biomedical Technician in the US Army back in 1980. I received my AAS Biomedical degree from Regis University (formerly Regis College) in 1986, and became a Certified Biomedical Technician (CBET) in 1994.

I moved into a manager role in 2003 overseeing seven technicians. Now I have a dual role of being a technical analyst (2008) for the biomedical department and the Laser Safety Officer (2010) for Cone Health in Greensboro, North Carolina. Our health system comprises of six hospitals, four surgery centers, an outlying emergency department, hundreds of clinics, in a five county area.

I enjoy biking, hiking, and being outdoors with my dog. My passion is learning Spanish, and my goal is to retire and live “la vida” in Mexico.

How did you become LSO?

In 2010, I was asked if I wanted to assume the role of Laser Safety Officer for the health system. Having no experience with lasers, I was reluctant to take on this role but accepted it as a challenge and a way to develop professionally.

Do you like being a CMLSO?

I really enjoy it, because we have a great team here at Cone Health. We have had some major challenges, but also some major improvements in the program. We currently oversee 45 lasers in 17 sites. I have been blessed with an incredible support team. Mark Pflug is the Deputy Laser Safety Officer. He is certified as a CLSO and CMLSO, and is our Radiation Safety Officer, Magnetic Resonance Safety Officer, and Environmental Safety Officer for the health system. He is a resource with a wealth of experience and information. Jennifer Fencle, Clinical Support Nurse, has been instrumental in developing the continuing education program for laser operators and a resource for me for clinical questions. I have a knowledgeable and committed laser safety committee, which is comprised of laser safety site contacts (LSSCs) from each site plus representatives from non-clinical areas. Medical Staff services has been very supportive with the physician laser privileging. The executive leadership for Operative Services have been very supportive in continuing laser safety education. We just had LIA (Leslie Pollard) give a two-day “hands on” laser safety class for laser personnel in the operating rooms system wide. I cannot leave out or forget my director, Trey Everette, who has supported me with continuing education and helping me navigate the political arena. Laser Safety is a team effort, and truly does not reside on one person.

Has becoming certified helped you in your career?

When I was handed the baton, I truly felt unprepared to take on this role. I didn’t know ANSI standards or how to run a laser safety program. Determined to be able to “talk the talk” and develop a successful program, I immersed myself in ANSI standards and took the MLSO course taught by LIA instructor Vangie Dennis. It has helped me incredibly to meet the day-to-day challenges that are presented and has given me the confidence to know I am on the right track. I have always been a true believer in certification, because it helps you become “well rounded” and educated on all aspects of your field. The fact that you have to have continuing education to maintain your certification, keeps you sharp and up to date on the latest changes to the field. It also gives you credibility when talking with other professionals.