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It’s official: PPPL’s director is Sir Steven Cowley

Queen Elizabeth knighted Steve Cowley, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), in an investiture ceremony on Oct. 11 at Buckingham Palace. 

Cowley, who became director on July 1, was knighted “for services to science and the development of nuclear fusion.”  The ceremony began when the Lord Chamberlain or Lord in Waiting called out Cowley’s name in the palace ballroom. Cowley  kneeled before the queen as she placed a sword on each of his shoulders to dub him “Sir Steven Cowley.”  The queen then placed the insignia around Cowley’s neck. Cowley and the queen chatted and shared a laugh after he received the medal. 

Cowley became PPPL’s seventh director of PPPL in July. Before coming to PPPL, he was president and professor of physics at Corpus Christi College at Oxford University. He was previously chief executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Research.  He earned his Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton in 1985 and was a staff scientist at PPPL from 1987 to 1993 and taught at the University. In addition to being director, he is also a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton. 

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

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

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