A Collaborative National Center for Fusion & Plasma Research

PPPL Experts

Neway Atnafu is a licensed professional engineer (PE) and certifed project management professional (PMP). He is a mechanical engineer and engineering project manager who has worked on many aspects of the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U), including the cooling systems, neutral beam relocation, vacuum vessel analysis, magnetic coil bus bars, passive plate modifcations and structural support design. He is the responsible engineer for the NSTX-U cooling systems, and is expert in the safe operation of mobile and overhead cranes, hoisting and rigging.

Expert Topics: Cooling Systems, Engineering, Project Management, Structural Analysis

Atiba Brereton is a diagnostic engineer who contributes to the design, fabrication, and installation of various types of diagnostic equipment on PPPL’s National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U). He has worked on several diagnostics such as SPRED (Survey, Poor Resolution, Extended Domain), a spectrometer that will be used to measure impurities in the divertor of the tokamak; and FIReTIP (Far InfraRed Tangential Interferometer/Polarimeter), which will be used to monitor plasma density.

Expert Topics: Computer aided design (CAD), Diagnostic equipment, Fusion energy

Ahmed Diallo is leader of the pedestal structure and control topical science group of the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) and is a recipient of a DOE Early Career award. He is developing a fast burst laser system to investigate the dynamics of the pedestal as well as to control it. He has contributed to the upgrade of the Thomson scattering diagnostic system in preparation for the NSTX-U, and has participated in the operation of the NSTX and the Thomson scattering system prior to their upgrades.

Expert Topics: Laser diagnostics, Plasma physics

Fatima Ebrahimi is the topical science group leader for theory/modeling of solenoid-free startup & ramp-up in NSTX-U. She has many years of experience in theoretical and global computational extended (magnetohydrodynamic) MHD with wide applications to astrophysical, laboratory and fusion plasmas. Studies of MHD stability in fusion plasmas, momentum transport, dynamo, and magnetic reconnection in fusion/laboratory and astrophysical plas- mas constitute her main research interests. She has more than 35 publi- cations in peer-reviewed journals.

Expert Topics: Plasma physics

David Gates is a principal research physicist for the advanced projects division of PPPL, and the stellarator physics leader at the Laboratory. In the latter capacity he leads collaborative efforts with the Wendelstein 7-X and Large Helical Device stellarator projects in Germany and Japan, respectively. 

Expert Topics: Stellarators, Tokamaks

Charles Gentile is head of the Tritium Systems Group at PPPL. He led a team at PPPL to create a Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System, called MINDS, which can be used to scan moving vehicles, luggage, cargo vessels, and the like for specific nuclear signatures associated with materials employed in radiological weapons. MINDS could be employed at work- place entrances, post offices, tollbooths, airports, commercial shipping ports, and in police cruisers to detect the transportation of unauthorized nuclear materials. 

Expert Topics: Nanotechnology, Plasma physics

Stefan Gerhardt is head of Experimental Research Operations for the National Spherical Torus Experiment- Upgrade (NSTX-U). He operates numerous diagnostics on NSTX-U, along with designing plasma control schemes and running physics experiments. He has previously worked on a wide variety of fusion machines, including spherical tokamaks, stellarators, and field reversed configurations. 

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, Plasma diagnostics, Plasma physics, Stellarators, Tokamaks

Robert Goldston is a professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University and an international leader in the fields of plasma physics and magnetic fusion energy.  From 1997 to 2009 he served as Director of PPPL. He is the author of 220 papers in journals and conference proceedings, and in 1995 co- authored with Paul Rutherford the textbook “Introduction to Plasma Physics.” He is a contributing author to five other books. In 1988, he was awarded the American Physical Society Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics.

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, Fusion reactor design, Plasma physics, Tokamaks

Richard Hawryluk, the interim director of PPPL, is an internationally-known physicist and a former deputy director of PPPL. He served as the head of the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) Recovery Project from2016 through August of 2017.

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, ITER, NSTX-U, Tokamaks

Hantao Ji is a professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University and a Distinguished Research Fellow at PPPL. For more than 20 years he has been interested in the growing fields of plasma physics and astrophysics, and has dedicated his career to bringing them closer together. 

Expert Topics: Plasma astrophysics

David Johnson is a principal research physicist with broad experience in techniques and instrumentation for measur- ing the characteristics of magnetic fusion plasmas. He has specific expertise in laser Thomson scattering systems, and has installed and operated such systems on many fusion devices around the world. He managed a division of plasma diagnostic experts for the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) and National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) projects, and was the Work Breakdown Structure Team Leader for US ITER Diagnostics. 

Expert Topics: ITER, Plasma diagnostics

Robert (Bob) Kaita is head of boundary physics opera- tions for the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) and deputy head of research operations. Kaita
is also a co-principal investigator of the Lithium Tokamak 
Experiment (LTX). He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the Kaul Foundation Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research. He has supervised the research of many students in the PPPL Program in Plasma Physics in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. 

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, Lithium, Plasma diagnostics

Bruce Koel is professor of chemical and biological engi- neering at Princeton University. He is associated faculty in Chemistry, the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and a collaborator on the National Spherical Torus Experiment - Upgrade at PPPL. Koel is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the American Vacuum Society. 

Expert Topics: Surface science, Tokamaks

Jerry Levine has more than 35 years experience in managing, coordinating and reviewing licensing, safety and environmental matters for fusion-energy research activities and the nuclear waste program. Levine directs a department of more than 40 professionals responsible for oversight and support of activities ranging from radiation protection and electri- cal safety to emergency preparedness, environmental protection and security. 

Expert Topics: Nuclear energy, Nuclear safety

David McComas, an executive leader in managing various complex technical projects and programs, has been named vice president for the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). PPPL is the nation's leading center for the exploration of plasma science and magnetic fusion energy. McComas also has been appointed professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton.

Expert Topics: Plasma astrophysics

Jonathan Menard is program director for the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) and is responsible for guiding the scientific research program of NSTX-U working with an international research team. His research interests include the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) equilibrium and stability properties of spherical torus (ST) and tokamak plasmas, advanced operating scenarios in the ST, and the development of next- step ST options for fusion energy. 

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, NSTX-U, Plasma physics, Tokamaks

George “Hutch” Neilson manages PPPL’s stellarator programs and advanced design activities. He is program manager and national point-of-contact for U.S. collaborations with the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator experiment in Germany. Advanced design activities overseen by Neilson include technical studies for next-generation experimental fusion facilities, including the U.S. system studies program and collaborations with South Korea and China on studies of DEMO machines, which would precede commercial fusion power plants. 

Expert Topics: Fusion roadmapping, International collaborations, ITER

Charles Neumeyer is a registered professional engineer with more than 30 years experience in advanced tech- nology research and project management. His experi- ence covers functions ranging from design to procurement and commissioning. Neumeyer has managerial roles in activities associated with ITER and the National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U). He is responsible for U.S. equipment contributions for the ITER Steady State Electrical Network, which will supply AC power to all ITER plant systems. 

Expert Topics: ITER, Power systems

Masa Ono is project director of the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U). Ono has led
a number of PPPL research teams including those involved in the Advanced Concept Torus (ACT-1), 
the Current Drive Experiment (CDX), the Current Drive Experiment Upgrade (CDX-U) and the NSTX. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the author of more than 250 scientific papers. 

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, NSTX-U

Francesca Poli’s expertise is in simulating the evolution of tokamak plasma discharges. She uses waves and neutral beams to modify the plasma current profile and to optimize the plasma performance. She applies her expertise to interpret existing experiments, to predict and design new experiments, and to predict plasma performance in ITER, the international demonstration fusion reactor being built in the south of France. 

Expert Topics: Tokamaks

Stewart Prager was the sixth director of PPPL. He joined the Laboratory in 2009 after a long career at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. At Wisconsin, he led research on the “Madison Symmetric Torus” (MST) experiment and headed a center that studied plasmas in both the laboratory and the cosmos. He also co-discovered the “bootstrap current” there—a key finding that has influenced the design of today’s tokamaks. He earned his PhD in plasma physics from Columbia University.

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, Fusion roadmapping, Inertial confinement fusion, Plasma astrophysics, Plasma physics

Valeria Riccardo is PPPL’s head of engineering, the largest department at PPPL. She worked for more than 20 years at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, England, which operates the Joint European Torus (JET) and the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) facility, a sister facility to PPPL. As chief engineer at the Culham Center for ve years, she was responsible for ensuring that the consequences of any design, installation and operation decision were understood.

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, ITER, Plasma-facing materials, Tokamaks

Masaaki Yamada is a Distinguished Laboratory Research Fellow and the Head of the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) research program. He is also a co- principal investigator of the Center for Magnetic Self-Organization in Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas, a Physics Frontier Center established by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Expert Topics: Magnetic reconnection, Tokamaks

Michael Zarnstorff has been deputy director of research at PPPL since 2009 and a physicist at PPPL since 1984.  As deputy director, he oversees physics experiments at PPPL and collaborations on fusion experiments around the world.  Zarnstorff graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Ph.D. in physics in 1984.

Expert Topics: Fusion energy, Fusion reactor design, International collaborations, Plasma physics, Stellarators, Tokamaks

Andrew Zwicker is a physicist and science educator. A fellow of the American Physical Society, The American Association of Physics Teachers has named him to its list of 75 leading contributors to physics education. He is the Editor of the APS Forum on Physics and Society’s newsletter and a past chair of that Forum. Additionally, he is a past member of the APS Committee on Education. At Princeton University he is a lecturer in the Writing Program and a faculty advisor for freshmen and sophomores. 

Expert Topics: Education, Science literacy, STEM

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Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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