News and Events

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization eNews

Jan 31, 2019 (Issue 136)

USBPO Mission Statement: Advance the scientific understanding of burning plasmas and ensure the greatest benefit from a burning plasma experiment by coordinating relevant U.S. fusion research with broad community participation.


Director’s Corner
C.M. Greenfield
Contact and Contribution Information  


Web seminars (Amanda Hubbard, USBPO Deputy Director)

Our USBPO web seminar series has been active and very well attended in recent months. A presentation by Dennis Whyte on the SPARC project on Nov 29, 2018 had a record 107 web connections, and estimated 140 participants. This month, a presentation by Michael Mauel on the National Academies report “A Strategic Plan for US Burning Plasma Research” on Jan 25th likely had even more participants, since there were several large groups connected. We were pleased in both cases to get participation from many institutions, large and small, and that there was extended and lively discussion. These are two of the key aims of our web seminar series.

We are pleased to announce two more upcoming web seminars:


Date: Thursday, February 21, 2 PM ET (11 AM PT).

Topic: Predicting the pedestal in a burning plasma: Progress and research needs

Speaker: Dr. Phil Snyder, General Atomics


Date: Thursday, March 7, 12 PM ET (9 AM PT).

Topic: JET programme in support of ITER and preparation of DT operation

Speaker: Dr. Xavier Litaudon, EUROfusion


We hope you will save these times on your calendar. Details and connection information will be sent to the e-News mailing list before each seminar. Suggestions for future seminar topics are always welcome.


Director’s Corner By C.M. Greenfield

The 10th ITER International School

The ITER International School aims to prepare young scientists/engineers for work in the field of nuclear fusion and in research applications associated with the ITER Project. The tenth edition, held this month in Daejeon, Korea, focused on “The Physics and Technology of Power Flux Handling in Tokamaks.”

USBPO Scholarship winners at the ITER International School. From left to right Aveek Kapat (Illinois student), Shawn Zamperini (Tennessee student), Rebecca Masline (UCSD student), Greg Sinclair (ORAU post-doc), Jonathan Coburn (ITER post-doc), Oak Nelson (Princeton student), Eric Emdee (Princeton student), and Bryan Linehan (MIT student). Photo courtesy of Oak Nelson.

Once again, the USBPO was privileged to be able to award eight scholarships, covering travel expenses and school registration, to U.S. graduate students and post-docs. The winners are shown in the photo. There were also four U.S. speakers: Rajesh Maingi (PPPL), Max Fenstermacher (LLNL), Oliver Schmitz (Wisconsin), Daniel Andruczyk (Illinois).

The comments I received from some of our scholarship winners were universally positive – calling it an “enjoyable experience” and “extremely instructive.” They also enjoyed the visit to Korea and the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with future colleagues from around the world; very likely some of the same people who will be working together on the ITER research program in just a few years.

And our students distinguished themselves as well, with Shawn Zamperini winning the gold “best poster” prize and Eric Emdee, Jonathan Coburn, and Oak Nelson all winning silver poster awards.

I wish we could have supported even more of the 17 deserving students and post-docs who applied for the USBPO scholarships this year. I was pleased to see that four of them were able to secure other support and attended the school even without a scholarship.

USBPO leadership

As some of you have noticed, we are overdue on our usual leadership rotations. The first of these is to replace members of the USBPO Council whose terms had ended. We actually had five openings with the departures of Council Chair Chuck Kessel, Vice Chair Cary Forest, Stan Kaye, Earl Marmar, David Pace, and Susana Reyes (we previously had one extra Council member due to misalignment of two-year chair/vice chair terms with the three year Council member terms, so we only needed to replace five of the six departures).

An election was held in the fall to fill two of the five openings; the winners of that election were Francesca Poli (PPPL) and Terry Rhodes (UCLA). The process of identifying appointees for the remaining three positions, as well as identifying a new chair and vice chair, took longer than it should have. However, I am happy to announce that this process has been completed with the selection of Troy Carter (UCLA) as the incoming Council Chair, Raffi Nazikian (PPPL) as Vice Chair, and Jim Irby (MIT) filling the remaining at-large slot. With these changes, the Council membership for 2019 is:



Term ends

Ted Biewer



Troy Carter (Chair)



Jim Irby



George McKee



Raffi Nazikian (Vice Chair)



David Newman



Francesca Poli



Don Rej



Terry Rhodes



Uri Shumlak



Vlad Soukhanovskii



Gary Staebler



I would like to express my gratitude to Chuck, Cary, Stan, Earl, David, and Susana for their service to the community, as well as to thank Troy, Raffi, Jim, Francesca, and Terry for their willingness to serve.

We are rapidly moving through the process of selecting replacements for the outgoing topical group leaders. USBPO Deputy Director Amanda Hubbard and I have selected candidates for each position, and have submitted their names to DOE and the Council for comment as mandated by the USBPO bylaws. I hope that by time you read this we will be extending invitations to these lucky people.

Progress at ITER

The big news for ITER this month is that Director General Bernard Bigot has accepted a second term and will now be leading the ITER Project through at least early 2025. His arrival in 2015 coincided with the beginning of a period of rapid and steady progress that now finds the ITER facility at above 60% completion and on schedule for first plasma in 2025.

ITER also passed a milestone this month as the first ITER system – its electrical distribution network – was turned on. Until now, ITER received its electrical power from the neighboring Cadarache research facility; the equivalent of your moving into a new house and plugging in an extension cord at your neighbor’s house. With this development, the ITER facility gets its power directly from the French national electrical grid by way of transformers and switching equipment supplied by the U.S. Domestic Agency.

ITER Research Plan

As mentioned in my September 30 column, the ITER Research Plan was published in September and has been posted at The ITER Organization has now prepared an extensive list of research tasks for the community to be working on now in order to ensure readiness for a successful research program on ITER, when it’s ready. Not surprisingly, disruption mitigation issues figure prominently in the highest priority “category one” issues on the list, but there are opportunities spanning many areas. This list was presented at the recent ITPA Coordinating Committee meeting, and will hopefully be disseminated more broadly in the coming months. The USBPO Research Committee will be discussing the tasks, and opportunities to address them.

Calendar of Burning Plasma Events


March 18-21

US-EU Transport Task Force (TTF) meeting

Austin, TX

April 8-12

ITPA Diagnostics Topical Group meeting

Canberra, Australia

April 9-11

ITPA Energetic Particle Topical Group meeting

Rovaniemi, Finland

April 15-17

Sherwood Theory conference

Princeton, NJ

June 2-6

28th IEEE/NPSS Symposium on Fusion Engineering (SOFE)

Jacksonville, FL

July 8-12

46th European Physical Society Conference on Plasma Physics (EPS)

Milan, Italy

August 19-21

17th International Workshop on Plasma Edge Theory in Fusion Devices


Sept 20 – Oct 3

6th International Symposium on Liquid Metals Applications for Fusion (ISLA-6)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, IL

October 9-11

International H-mode workshop

Shanghai, China

October 21-25

61st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

November 4-8

Asia-Pacific DPP

Hefei, China


JET DT-campaign (

JT60-SA First Plasma (

Contact and Contribution Information

This newsletter provides a monthly update on U.S. Burning Plasma Organization activities. The USBPO operates under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy, Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) division. All comments, including suggestions for content, may be sent to the Editor. Correspondence may also be submitted through the USBPO Website Feedback Form.

Become a member of the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization by signing up for a topical group.

Editor: Walter Guttenfelder (


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