BLS Featured CLSO: Tracy Tipping
1. Who are you?
Tracy Tipping, severe weather enthusiast and all around nice guy.
2. What is your educational background?
I have a B.S. in Physics and Math from East Texas State University (now part of the Texas A&M System and known as Texas A&M – Commerce) where I was lucky enough as an undergraduate to work in a research lab and found that I really liked the research environment. I have an M.S. in Physics from Kansas State University where my work in the lab evolved into a full-time position in a DOE national user facility located on the KSU campus.
3. Where do you work?
I am the Health Physicist and Laboratory Manager at the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin.
4. When did you start working with lasers?/ How long have you worked with lasers?
My first exposure to lasers was as a tool for aligning particle accelerator beam lines when I was an undergraduate about thirty years ago. I have been involved with lasers in one way or another ever since. My formal research training is in atomic collisions physics. So when I went to graduate school, along with using lasers to align my beamlines, I started using lasers to excite my target atoms prior to collisions with the particle beams. Then as a research staff member at the DOE facility, I continued atomic collisions physics research initially. But then I moved into Environmental Health and Safety, and ultimately became the laboratory safety officer. So my focus shifted from laser user to laser safety person. After about ten years as the lab safety officer, I decided to give private industry a try and worked for a nuclear medicine manufacturing firm. Laser safety at that facility was all about the laser welders used to seal brachytherapy seeds that we manufactured for radiation oncology procedures. After a couple of years in the manufacturing facility (and missing the research environment), I moved to the radiation safety office at The University of Texas at Austin where there were over 300 Class 3b and Class 4 lasers doing all kinds of interesting things in the labs. Then about five years ago, I moved to my current position where although I no longer work regularly with lasers directly, I still keep in touch by serving on the University Laser Safety Committee, the University of Texas System Radiation Safety Advisory Group and on the ANZI Z136.8 committee.
5. How did you become the LSO?
I became a CLSO while in the UT-Austin radiation safety office. The department management encouraged professional certifications for the staff and was willing to put time and money into the staff in pursuit of certifications. I was already doing CLSO work, so they encouraged me to make it official.
6. What challenges do you face as a CLSO?
The same things that we all seem to be facing…. budgetary/staffing/time constraints.
7. How has becoming certified helped/benefited you in your career?
To some extent, being certified has made it easier to get funding approved to attend conferences and training that provide CM points. Management sees it as beneficial to maintain the certification. And while the CLSO is not officially recognized by our state regulatory agency, it seems that in some cases, interactions with regulators went more smoothly with a CLSO involved at the regulated site.