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John Galayda is named director of NSTX-U Recovery Project

John Galayda, an award-winning physicist and leader of major physics projects, is the new project director of the National Spherical Torus Experiment – Upgrade (NSTX-U) Recovery Project at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), effective Aug 1. Galayda replaces Rich Hawryluk, PPPL associate director for fusion, who had been in the position temporarily until a permanent replacement could be found.

Galayda has extensive experience in the DOE national laboratory system where he has led major expansions. Most recently, he oversaw the Linac Coherent Light Source II (LCLS-II) project, a collaboration of six institutions constructing a major expansion of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s LCLS X-ray laser user facility, a $1-billion project with more than 400 engineers and technical staff. He has been at SLAC since 2001, when he became director of the original LCLS project that created the world’s first x-ray free-electron laser.

NSTX-U, now under repair, is a powerful experimental fusion facility known as a tokamak. It has been undergoing repair since 2016, when one of its magnets failed. Galayda will oversee repair and recovery of the device.

“I am thrilled that John is coming to PPPL,” said Steve Cowley, PPPL director. “Rebuilding NSTX-U is our top priority, and John’s skills and proven ability to successfully expand and construct major physics projects is well demonstrated. He is an excellent choice; I am delighted he is moving back East and I look forward to working with him. I want to express my deepest appreciation for the work Rich Hawryluk has done and continues to do in the interim until John is on board and fully up to speed. Rich has, once again, been there when the Laboratory needed him, driving the project forward while we searched for a permanent project director.”

Said Galayda: “Joining PPPL is a homecoming for me, in several ways. I’m born and raised a Jersey boy, and became interested in fusion as an energy source when I began graduate school. I’ve been very lucky to have worked my way across the U.S. from lab to lab, learning as I went. Now it feels like I am closing the circle both in geography and intellectual aspiration. I’m excited and looking forward to getting to work!”

Prior to joining Stanford, Galayda was at Argonne National Laboratory, where he was deputy associate laboratory director for the Advanced Photon Source (APS). He had joined Argonne in 1990 as director of the APS Accelerator Systems Division with responsibility for construction, commissioning and operation of the APS storage ring and injector systems. He also worked on construction and operation of the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Galayda has devoted his career to the physics, design, construction and operation of synchrotron light sources and free-electron lasers. He is the recipient of the Robert R. Wilson Prize, the Arthur H. Compton Award, the Free-Electron Laser Prize, the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Excellence and Appreciation awards and an R&D 100 Award. He was named a Fellow in the American Physical Society in 1996. Galayda earned a bachelor’s degree from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, both in physics.

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 single largest 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, visit energy.gov/science.

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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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