PITTSBURGH -- Joseph Benga, senior Research associate for PPG Industries Inc.'s Analytical Services Group and regarded as one of the industry's foremost authorities on coatings test methods, died suddenly May 31 at his home in Allison Park, PA. He was 48.

A member of ASTM Committee D-01 on Paint and Related Coatings Materials and Applications since 1983, Dr. Benga was known for his encyclopedic knowledge of coatings test methods and standards. He also taught a Committee D01-sponsored course, "Compliance Methods for VOCs and HAPs for paints and other products," for the past eight years.

Dr. Benga was born in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, and emigrated to the United States at age 14 with his parents. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Dayton and a Ph.D. degree in analytical chemistry from Miami University of Ohio before joining PPG in 1980 as a Research chemist in the Coatings & Resins Analytical Chemistry Department. He most recently was the Gas Chromatography Team leader in the corporate-wide Analytical Services Group.

Beth Kirol, spectroscopy team leader in PPG's Analytical Services Group and a close associate of Dr. Benga, said he was known throughout the company and industry for his "intelligence, talent, quiet humility, and work ethic," and was highly respected for "keeping the department on the cutting edge."

Kirol said Dr. Benga was responsible for the development and application of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry in the analysis of coatings, polymers and related products at PPG. She called Dr. Benga a "gifted scientist" who understood the theory, application and use of multiple analytical techniques to solve a wide variety of problems.

Dr. Benga also was a key contributor to PPG's commercialization of an automotive powder clearcoat, and also made significant contributions to the company's beverage-container coatings technologies. He also was known in the automotive industry for the development of troubleshooting techniques involving process issues that could adversely affect final-finish quality.

"His passing is a big loss to PPG and the scientific community. Joe will be deeply missed by his colleagues, friends, and family," Kirol said.

Dr. Benga is survived by his wife, Carolyn; two sons, Robert J. Chermely and Joseph F. Benga; and one grandson, Jarrod Chermely.