A Collaborative National Center for Fusion & Plasma Research

Dr. Michael C Zarnstorff

Laboratory Chief Scientist

Michael Zarnstorff had been deputy director of research at PPPL since 2009 and a physicist at PPPL since 1984.  As deputy director, he oversaw 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. While he was still in graduate school, Zarnstorff and physicist Stewart Prager, a former PPPL director who was then his thesis advisor, discovered a phenomenon called the “bootstrap current” that helps to control the plasma in fusion experiments.  The two physicists received the American Physical Society’s 2008 Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research for their discovery. As deputy director of research, Zarnstorff has overseen investigations on the National Spherical Torus Experiment, the Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX) , PPPL’s low temperature plasma laboratory, and the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment along with numerous theoretical and computational projects.. Zarnstorff has also worked to promote collaborations with international fusion experiments, including ITER, the Wendelstein 7-X experiment in Germany, and several experiments in Asia. 


  • Fusion energy
  • Fusion reactor design
  • International collaborations
  • Plasma physics
  • Stellarators
  • Tokamaks

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

Website suggestions and feedback

Pinterest · Instagram · LinkedIn 

Princeton University Institutional Compliance Program

Privacy Policy · Sign In (for staff)

© 2021 Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. All rights reserved.

Princeton University
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
P.O. Box 451
Princeton, NJ 08543-0451
GPS: 100 Stellarator Road
Princeton, NJ, 08540
(609) 243-2000