BLS Featured CLSO: Greta Toncheva
Tell us about yourself
I am Greta Toncheva, CLSO, RRPT, Laser Safety Officer and Health Physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA.
I completed my BS and MS in solid-state physics and optical electronics at Plovdiv University, Bulgaria.
I have been working in the field of laser safety since 2009 and I am now at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA.
How did you become an LSO?
I worked at Duke University for 10 years, the first 2 years I assembled detectors for the Transition Radiation Tracker in the beam line of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland. When that project was completed, I joined the Duke Radiation Safety group. Most of my time was devoted to research and measurements of whole body and organ dose during diagnostic x-ray procedures using MOSFET detectors. I was also on the laser safety team conducting hazard evaluations and laser lab inspections. Three years ago, a great opportunity presented itself and I was hired to be the LBNL LSO.
Do you like being the LSO? What challenges come with the job?
I enjoy being a laser safety officer and working at a National Laboratory with cutting-edge research where safety is a highest priority. The constant change in experimental laser setup and all new laser applications coming into the lab keep me very busy. My customers are not only staff researchers, but also a lot of visitor researchers and young graduate and post-doctoral fellows eager to demonstrate their bright ideas, but coming from universities with a different than a National lab safety culture.
It is a challenge to bring them up to the high safety standards at a National lab. I know I have done my part well when after helping them, I see their smiling faces. It feels like I am a part of their success.
How has becoming certified helped you in your career?
Becoming certified was the most gratifying personal accomplishment for me. It gives me confidence and the credibility. I would recommend everyone who is thinking of certifying – just pursue it; you will be glad you did it.