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Craig Ferguson, a leader with more than two decades of experience at national laboratories, is named PPPL deputy director for operations and chief operating officer

Craig Ferguson, a leader with more than 25 years of experience at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and other federal facilities, will become deputy director for operations and chief operating officer at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) after a nationwide search. He will begin on Feb. 4.

“We are delighted to have Craig join our team,” said Steven Cowley, PPPL director. “His background and expertise will be extremely valuable as we pursue PPPL’s mission  in developing fusion energy. His breadth of experience in operations at world-leading laboratories makes him an excellent choice.” 

Cowley thanked Rich Hawryluk, a physicist at the Lab for 44 years, for serving as interim deputy director for operations for the past few months after serving as interim director of the Laboratory for 10 months before Cowley arrived. “I would like to thank Rich for his tireless work on behalf of the entire Laboratory,” Cowley said. Hawryluk will resume his position of associate director for fusion. 

As deputy director for operations, Ferguson will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Laboratory and will oversee all facets except science and research. Ferguson said he is looking forward to being part of the leadership team, which includes Cowley, who became director in July 2018; Hawryluk; Michael Zarnstoff, deputy director for research; and Kristen Fischer, chief financial officer. “I’m terrifically excited about it,” Ferguson said. “PPPL is on the forefront of plasma and fusion research and to be part of that is just fantastic.”

Ferguson’s most recent position was vice president of mission assurance at Longenecker & Associates, a consulting firm that works with the DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) facilities. 

Ferguson was also a consultant to leaders at Sandia National Laboratories, Argonne and Idaho National Laboratories as a consultant from 2014 to 2018. 

He held several positions at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory  from 2008 to 2014, including director of Environment, Safety and Health (ESH), and director of the Office of Planning and Assessment. His most recent position there was associate laboratory director of Infrastructure and Safety, where he directed 380 employees and more than $400 million in resources.

Ferguson also worked at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia, for three years as director of ESH&Q. Earlier in his career, Ferguson worked in ESH for Babcock and Wilcox at the BWXT Y-12 National Security Complex and was an engineer at the Rocky Flats Plant nuclear weapons facility in Colorado and Mound Laboratories in Ohio. 

Ferguson received a bachelor’s degree in nuclear technology from Excelsior College and a master’s degree in safety sciences from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He spent nine years in the U.S. Navy’s Propulsion Program, and had several positions with the Navy, including nuclear plant operator on an aircraft carrier and department supervisor of a nuclear support facility.

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. 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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