Distinguished Lecture
MIPSE Seminar

Leading Challenges and the Role of Transformation in the Fusion and Plasma Sciences

Dr. Edmund Synakowski

U.S. Department of Energy
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
3:30pm - 4:30pm
1005 EECS

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Dr. Edmund Synakowski is the featured speaker at the 6th Annual MIPSE Graduate Student Symposium.

About the Event

The fusion energy and plasma sciences have undergone remarkable transformational events in its history. Many of these events have shaped and reshaped our understanding of what the field’s standards for excellence and progress ought to be. Indeed, many scientific developments have enlarged the consciousness of the field regarding what is even possible. Examples in magnetic fusion go all the way back to declassification, when there emerged a common understanding on both sides of the Cold War of the nature of the science of plasmas that emboldened scientists globally to reach for theoretical frameworks that spanned specific experimental configurations. While much of scientific progress is incremental, this talk takes a walk through the history of fusion and plasma science that is decidedly selective, with the choice made to focus on transformational developments that have led to rapid expansions in thinking of what it means to conduct this research. It is with this as backdrop that we can draw inspiration as we view the tasks in hand of establishing the scientific bases for fusion and the plasma sciences, and for mastering control of both the burning plasma and low temperature plasma regimes.


Dr. Synakowski is the Associate Director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The FES Office supports research to develop the scientific basis for fusion energy, and also serves as a leading steward for plasma science more broadly. With an annual budget of about $400M, the FES portfolio includes research at national laboratories, universities, and private industry.

Prior to joining FES in June of 2009, Dr. Synakowski served as the Fusion Energy Program (FEP) Leader and as the Deputy Division Leader At-Large of the Physics Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Within the FEP, he led a broad portfolio of magnetic fusion energy science, high energy density physics, fusion technology, and beam research.

Dr. Synakowski was at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) from 1988 through 2005, where he was Head of Research and Deputy Program Director of the National Spherical Torus Experiment. His research and group leadership on the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor at PPPL in the 1990’s was in cross-magnetic-field transport. He led some of the first detailed comparisons between measurements and turbulent transport theory in fusion reactor conditions, and made the only measurements to date of the creation and transport of helium ash in a laboratory fusion plasma.

Dr. Synakowski shared the APS Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics in 2001. He is a Fellow of APS and the Institute of Physics, and has authored more than 150 refereed publications.

Additional Information


Sponsor(s): MIPSE

Faculty Sponsor: Mark J. Kushner

Open to: Public

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