April Mills

Jeanne Jackson DeVoe

Dec. 15, 2023

“Working somewhere where you fully and utterly believe in what they’re doing is incredibly fulfilling. I’m so proud of the work that PPPL is doing. The whole Lab is doing amazing things.”

– April Mills


Title & Department: Administrative Assistant, ITER Projects 

Year started at PPPL: 2022

April Mills had never heard of fusion energy or the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) when a recruiter asked her to apply for a job at the Lab. Once she did some research and learned that PPPL’s primary mission is to develop fusion as a carbon-free, abundant and affordable energy, she became an enthusiastic supporter of both fusion and PPPL. 

“Now that is a place where I want to work,” Mills recalled thinking. “I love their mission. I love their community involvement and their energy. I love everything about it!”

Supporting the ITER Projects Department 

After joining the Lab in February 2022, Mills became one of the administrators for the 60-member ITER Projects Department. PPPL is a partner lab to US ITER and is contributing six diagnostics that will help test and analyze experimental results from the international ITER facility under assembly in France. ITER is a multinational fusion collaboration aimed at developing a self-sustaining or burning plasma; the U.S. is one of seven contributing members. “When I read about ITER and what they were doing, I really wanted to be a part of that because this is literally a world-changing situation,” Mills said. 

April Mills with her children

April Mills with her children: Caleb, 11, and Amelie, 8, at the Community Sustainability Event at PPPL in September 2023. (Photo by Carol Ann Austin.)

Mills had what she describes as “an eclectic resume” before coming to PPPL. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to New Hampshire after graduating high school. She settled in New Jersey at age 19 after meeting her husband and attended Rutgers University. She was a nanny and a receptionist for a computer consulting company. She later was an administrator for a solar panel installation company, a job that taught her a lot about alternative energy. Mills had several jobs in the hotel and restaurant industry and, most recently, worked for 10 years for the Terra Momo Restaurant Group, the owners of several restaurants in the Princeton area. There, she worked her way up from server to media/marketing manager and event coordinator. She was laid off when restaurants were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, during which Mills homeschooled two of her children. 

Married since 1999 to David “D.J.” Mills, a photographer and videographer, the couple lives in North Brunswick, New Jersey, with their children: Trinity, 22; Caleb, 11; and Amelie, 8; along with four cats and a dog.

Describe your job: 

“I am the point of contact for ITER Projects. If somebody needs something from the team, they come to me. I’m the organizer and bridge builder. I’m in charge of scheduling, coordination, communications and support for Ravinder Bhatia, the interim head of the department, and the whole team, as well as documentation and onboarding new people to the project.”

Three things about yourself: 

  • “I enjoy biking, hiking and going to the beach, and I love gardening.”
  • “I love anything artistic — drawing, painting — I’m very artistically minded. I’ve taken almost any art class you can imagine: drawing, painting, ceramics. I’m also a photographer. I shoot weddings and portraits with my husband.”
  • “During the pandemic, I started making videos for TikTok, and I started posting videos for my own enjoyment. I was really just playing around with the platform when I accidentally went viral with a video about planting carrots in a kiddy pool. It was viewed by 1.6 million people, and I went from 60 followers to 13,000 followers.” 
Mills family

Mills, right, with her husband, D.J. Mills, and their children: Trinity, 22; Caleb, 11; and Amelie, 8. (Photo courtesy of April Mills.)

What do you like most about working at PPPL? 

“I like the fact that I’m never sure what I’m going to be doing every day – the varied nature of the job. I like supporting a team to do something that I am unable to do. I can’t build a tokamak (a doughnut-shaped fusion device). I can’t engineer it, but I can support the people who can. I also love the culture here. In my experience, everybody is lovely, helpful and considerate, and I love the academic nature of the Lab. The ITER team here is wonderful, and we have all created a really good working relationship, and I believe it starts from the top. We all just work really well together.”

What does PPPL’s mission mean to you? 

“I love that fusion is a clean energy. I’ve always loved innovation, science, different ways of thinking and people taking a chance on something because, if this works, it could change the world. Working somewhere where you fully and utterly believe in what they’re doing is incredibly fulfilling for me. I’m so proud of the work that PPPL is doing. The whole Lab is doing amazing things.”