McAdams Award Honoree - 2009

Presented to MICHAEL S. TERPILAK at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Health Physics Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 12-16, 2009
Michael S. Terpilak

The William A. McAdams Outstanding Service Award is presented annually by the American Academy of Health Physics and the American Board of Health Physics (ABHP) to honor a certified health physicist who has significantly contributed toward the advancement of professionalism in health physics and to the certification process. The 2009 McAdams award is granted posthumously to Michael S. Terpilak.

In conferring this award, the nominating committee honors Mike's life-long commitment the programs and objectives of the ABHP. Mike was a member of the Comprehensive Examination Panel from 1969 to 1975 and its Chair from 1974 to 1975. He also served as a member of the American Board of Health Physics from 1976 to 1980 during which time he served as secretary-treasurer and chairman. Mike was also one of the two ABHP members appointed to the initial National Registry Radiological Protection Technologists exam panel. After leaving the board in 1980, he was hired as the first (part-time) Executive Secretariat for the ABHP, a role which he fulfilled until 1983.

Mike was also very active in the Baltimore-Washington Chapter of the Health Physics Society (BWCHPS), serving as its president in 1971. He started the first ABHP certification course in the chapter in 1966 to 67. This course provided a good review for exam candidates and became a "must" in the world of exam preparation for many candidates. The BWCHPS awarded him a Distinguished Service Plaque for this effort. Mike was also the co-publisher of the "The Health Physics and Radiological Health Handbook," (aka the "pink book") which is still in use by health physicists everywhere.

Mike was born on the lower east side of Manhattan and lived in New York City until his late 20s. He attended Polish Catholic Parochial School and was an altar boy. He later attended Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. After graduating from New York University, he served in the Army during the Korean War. After his Army service, Mike returned to New York City to work for the Department of Health for the City of New York. That job piqued his interest in health-related occupations and he became a public health sanitarian, and eventually a health physicist. He worked as a health physicist at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Rochester, New York, during the early days of that plant.

Subsequently, he joined the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS) as a sanitarian. Mike was assigned to the PHS's Bureau of Radiological Health in the radioactive material program. There he did investigations on radon daughters found in jewelry made from spent radon seed used in cancer therapy in the 1920s and 30s. Because of his interest in jewelry he worked with the gold industry to try to devise guidelines for preventing radioactively contaminated gold from entering the industrial and jewelry market. He also brought attention to the importation of gem stones from South America that had been exposed to neutron radiation to enhance their color. In addition, Mike was the Secretary/Treasurer of Bethesda Jewelers, a full-service jewelry store in downtown Bethesda, operated by his wife and son.

Mike was a practical field health physicist and enjoyed the challenges that came with field work. He was the health physicist for the refueling and decommissioning of the nuclear power cargo ship NS Savannah. He also wrote health physics procedures for the Army Packaged Power nuclear reactor and subsequently went to Antarctica to support the installation of it at McMurdo Sound.

Mike was an integral part of the Public Health Service/Bureau of Radiological Health response to the Three Mile Island Unit 2 accident. As a result of the accident, the Public Health Service formed an Office of Health Physics and Mike was named Deputy Director. He retired from the PHS in 1982.

After his retirement from PHS, Mike cofounded Nucleon Lectern Associates, a health physics education company that published the first commercial version of "The Health Physics and Radiological Health Handbook," which is used by health physicists everywhere. Mike worked for or consulted with many federal agencies, including the Smithsonian Institute, Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Secret Service. In addition, he consulted with companies in the private sector. He also was active in and a founder of the local chapter of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists. Mike was also a part-time radiological consultant with Bishop & Associates in Baltimore. Mike died April 11 2007 and is survived by his wife Katherine, son Thomas and daughter-in-law Sue; and his son Jeffrey.

Patricia A. Milligan, Vice-Chair ABHP