Merlin Lopez, an electrical coordinator working on the ALS-U Upgrade project, has only been at the Lab for six months, but has already spearheaded a cost-projection effort to help streamline the purchase of electrical equipment for the project. He enjoys the people he works with and the challenge of the work, but what he’s really happy about is the no-car commute he now has. Rides on BART and the Lab shuttle have replaced an over one-hour drive in a car.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Lopez answers three questions for Elements:
Tell us about your family heritage…what was their pathway to America?
I am a first generation immigrant to the U.S. from El Salvador. My dad was a coffee grower and a minister. Both my parents came from farming families. During the worst part of the civil war in El Salvador about 29 years ago, a window opened for me to come to America. My sister was already here, living on the east coast. Once I arrived, we moved together to the Bay Area, where we pursued our studies.
What are some of your favorite ways to connect with your culture?
I keep in touch with my culture through friends in the area and also by traveling back to El Salvador to visit homeland. It’s pretty easy to find the traditional foods of my country in the Bay Area, such as pupusas and empanadas de leche. There’s also traditional music performed locally, and I can find it online as well. I like listening to Alvaro Torres, Trio Peregrinos, Marimba Atlacatl and El Salvador Symphony Orchestra.
Who are some of your cultural role models?
My dad and mom. They taught me about hard work and integrity. They also believed in education as a way to improve your life. My sister is also my role model. She was the first in our family to earn a Ph.D. here in the U.S. I have a strong family bond that motivates me everyday…I love my family.