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NCEM’s Chris Nelson: ‘The Kind of Person that makes LBNL great’

Edmund Christian "Chris" Nelson, one of the most experienced microscopists at Berkeley Lab’s National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM), passed away unexpectedly Thursday night of an apparent heart attack. He was 46.

Nelson joined NCEM in 1984, shortly after the center was first established as a national user facility. His professional growth paralleled that of the facility. From a junior technician, he developed into the most accomplished operator of the Atomic Resolution Microscope and the most proficient pilot of the One- Angstrom Microscope.

He was about to take on responsibility for NCEM’s world-leading Transmission Electron Aberration-Corrected Microscope (TEAM) upon its installation next year. Over the past two decades, he collaborated with hundreds of scientists and trained scores of users and visitors of the facility. His contribution to the microscopy community was recently recognized with the prestigious Outstanding Technologist Award of the Microscopy Society of America.

His death is a major loss to the facility and the Lab, said NCEM Director Uli Dahmen. “We are devastated by the untimely loss of Chris Nelson,” he said. “Chris was the backbone of NCEM, the kind of person that makes LBNL great. He was an awesome microscopist who understood advanced electron microscopes like a test pilot understands a jet plane.

“But he also understood people, and the combination of his reassuring personality with his superb technical skill made a key contribution to the facility. His death is a tremendous blow to NCEM and its user base. We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great colleague and friend.”

Information on funeral services will be forthcoming as details are confirmed.

Chris Nelson is survived by a brother, Richard, of Oregon, and a sister, Kim, from the state of Washington.

Grief counseling and other services are available to all employees through CARE Services at the Tang Center in Berkeley. The phone number is 643-7754, and the e-mail address is careserv@uhs.berkeley.edu

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