News and Events

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization eNews

May 12, 2020 (Issue 145)

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.



Remote Seminar: The ITER Project: Moving Forward

Director’s Corner:

Research in Support of ITER contributed oral session

USBPO leadership updates

11th ITER International School

ITER construction moves into a new phase

JT-60SA assembly is complete

Calendar of Burning Plasma Events


The ITER Project: Moving Forward

ITER General Director, Dr. Bigot, will speak during a remote seminar at Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 12 PM EDT / 9 AM PDT. This is open to all via Zoom at Zoom conference ID 987 6584 1414 . Optional registration and further information can be found at this link.

Director’s Corner

Chuck Greenfield, US BPO DIrector

Well, this is different…

I hope you are staying safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. Like many of you, my home office has become my office, and work has become a weird combination of the new and the familiar (but from a distance). But progress continues. We’re learning how to operate DIII-D with most of the participants working remotely. And in France, work on ITER continues to advance, with some very important developments happening on schedule despite the new challenges.

Meanwhile, most of our meetings and workshops have been postponed, and those that haven’t are moving to remote presentation only. As inconvenient as all of this may be, we might look at this as an opportunity to develop the skills we’ll need in the future as fusion research becomes even more international.

Research in Support of ITER contributed oral session at the Memphis APS-DPP Conference

For the twelfth time, last year’s APS Division of Plasma Physics annual meeting included a contributed oral session on Research in Support of ITER, which included talks from US and international participants. These sessions have become quite popular and are always well attended.

The US Burning Plasma Organization is organizing a similar session for the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics, which will take place in Memphis, Tennessee, on November 9-13. Once again, we are looking for talks on research that has been done specifically to address ITER design, operation, or physics issues. These brief talks are “standard” contributed orals: 10 minutes in duration, followed by a 2-minute discussion period. We hope to have broad participation once again, so we can highlight the breadth of this work and the institutions performing it, both US and international.

Of course, this is all subject to scheduling issues that none of us can control. We are assuming the conference will happen on schedule. If something changes, we will adapt as best we can.

The abstract submission deadline for this year’s meeting is June 29, so we need to get started with this year’s process. If you or a colleague are interested in making a presentation in this session, please send a title, brief synopsis (one paragraph is sufficient), and speaker’s contact information as soon as possible (but no later than June 8) to me (Chuck Greenfield, The brief synopsis should provide a sufficient description to understand the work and its importance to ITER.

Note that space is limited to 15 talks, so we almost certainly won’t be able to include all talks nominated. We will inform speakers by June 27 (hopefully earlier), giving time for any not selected for the ITER session to indicate a preference for other sessions, or allow the conference program committee to select an appropriate session for you.

In recent years we ran into an issue where many of you were still waiting at our deadline to find out if you had an invited talk. Even if you are waiting, I encourage you to put in a request for a slot in this session. If you are offered a spot and you feel you need to decline because you have an invited talk (APS rules do not preclude your doing both, but that is a lot of work), we will understand.

A full abstract would still need to be submitted via the conference website no later than 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time on June 29. If your talk is accepted for this session, please indicate “Research in Support of ITER” in the placement requests box on your abstract submission.

A person standing in a kitchen

Description automatically generatedUSBPO leadership updates

Amanda Hubbard has stepped down as Deputy Director of the US Burning Plasma Organization in order to devote more time to her research. Amanda was instrumental in the original formation of the USBPO, serving as the first Council Vice Chair and later as Council Chair, briefly as Deputy Leader of the Integrated Scenarios topical group, and finally as Deputy Director since 2011. I have enjoyed working with Amanda throughout both of our evolving roles in the USBPO, and I am personally grateful for the time we were able to work together.

A person wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera

Description automatically generatedI am delighted to announce that Professor Oliver Schmitz of the University of Wisconsin has taken over as the new Deputy Director of the USBPO. Oliver is known to many of you as one of the young leaders of our field, and I am very happy that he has agreed to bring his enthusiasm for and expertise in burning plasma science to this new role. I look forward to working closely with Oliver in the coming years.

We also recently concluded our annual succession in four of the USBPO topical groups as terms ended for their leaders. In each case, the previous deputy leader was promoted to leader and will serve a full two-year term.

Topical Group

Departing topical group leader

New topical group leader

New deputy topical group leader

Energetic Particles

Eric Bass (UCSD)

Cami Collins (GA)

Aaron Bader (Wisconsin)

Fusion Engineering Science

Jean Paul Allain (PSU)

Masa Shimada (INL)

Arnold Lumsdaine (ORNL)

Operations and Control

Eugenio Schuster (Lehigh)

Dan Boyer (PPPL)

Michael Bongard (Wisconsin)

Plasma-Wave Interactions

Greg Wallace (MIT)

Cornwall Lau (ORNL)

David Smithe

I would like to thank all 12 of these leaders for their past and future service to the USBPO and the community. With Oliver Schmitz leaving his position as deputy leader of the Pedestal and Divertor/SOL topical group (see above), we will be looking to fill that vacancy immediately. If you would like to make a nomination (of yourself or a colleague) please let me, Oliver, or topical group leader Jerry Hughes know. The current full membership of the Research Committee, made up of topical group leaders and deputy leaders, is shown at /organization/?article=Topical%20Groups.

Finally, we have just concluded an election for two USBPO Council seats. An announcement is forthcoming as soon as we have informed all of the candidates. Two additional Council seats will be filled by appointment in the coming days.

11th ITER International School: The Impact and Consequences of Energetic Particles on Fusion Plasmas

The 11th ITER International School was originally scheduled for 20 – 24 July 2020 and hosted by Aix-Marseille University in Aix-en-Provence, France. It has been postponed, probably to sometime this Fall and still in the Marseille/Aix-en-Provence area (but probably not at the university since class will be in session). The subject of this year’s school is “The Impact and Consequences of Energetic Particles on Fusion Plasmas.” As the start of ITER operations approaches, it is timely to address this multidisciplinary topic that includes plasma self-heating by fusion-born alpha-particles, the influence of energetic particles on stability, diagnosing energetic particle transport and loss, and understanding runaway electrons. The ITER International School aims to prepare young scientists and engineers for working in the field of nuclear fusion and in research applications associated with the ITER Project. The adoption of a “school format” was a consequence of the need to prepare future scientists and engineers on a range of different subjects and to provide them with a wide overview of the interdisciplinary skills required by the ITER project.

The US Burning Plasma Organization is once again making available scholarships for US participants to this year’s ITER International School. This year we have identified 16 graduate students and post-docs for these scholarships. Hopefully they will all be able to attend when the new schedule is announced.

The recipients of the 2020 IIS scholarships are:

Gurleen Bal (UCLA)
Genevieve DeGrandchamp (UCI)
Jonah Duran (U Tenn Knoxville)
Kenneth Gage (UCI)
Alvin Garcia (UCI)
Daniel Lin (UCI)
Gabriel Player (UCI)
Quinn Pratt (UCLA)
Aaron Rosenthal (MIT)
Alex Saperstein (Columbia)
Kamil Sklodowski (UCLA)
Elizabeth Tolman (MIT)
Jeff Lestz (Princeton/UC Irvine)
Philip Bonofiglo (PPPL)
Noah Hurst (Wisconsin)
Alex Tinguely (MIT)

More details on this ITER International School are available or forthcoming at

ITER construction moves into a new phase

This is an exciting time at ITER. In the last few months, the Tokamak Building was completed, the temporary wall separating the Tokamak Building and the Assembly Hall was removed, and major components are being moved into place for the commencement of tokamak assembly. The cryostat segments were moved out of their workshop, with three shrink-wrapped and put aside for their turn in assembly, and the fourth, the cryostat base, moved to the Assembly Hall to become the first major tokamak component to be installed at the end of this month. Meanwhile, the first two toroidal field coils arrived on site, from Europe and Japan, and the first vessel sectors have been completed and will arrive soon. Many other components are coming on-site as well.

(Left) ITER’s tokamak pit being prepared for the beginning of tokamak assembly; (right) view from above the pit looking toward the Assembly Hall. The circular structure in the background is the cryostat base that will be the first major component to be installed. Although it looks tiny in this photograph, it is nearly 30 meters in diameter! Photos courtesy of the ITER Organization.

JT-60SA assembly is complete

Congratulations are in order to our Japanese and European colleagues on the completion of seven years of assembly of the JT-60SA tokamak, with first plasma planned for later this year. This new superconducting device, about half the size of ITER, will be the world’s largest magnetic confinement fusion device until ITER begins operating. We look forward to exciting results from JT-60SA in the coming years.

Calendar of Burning Plasma Events

Many upcoming meetings are being impacted by the COVID-19 situation. We suggest that you not rely too heavily on the schedule below - it is best to check with the meeting organizers before making any plans.


JET DT-campaign

JT-60SA First Plasma

May 31-Jun 4

High Temperature Plasma Diagnostics

Santa Fe, NM


May 31-Jun 5
(Jan 24-29, 2021)

International Conference on Plasma Surface Interactions

Jeju, South Korea


July 20-24

ITER International School

Marseille, France


October 12-17

28th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC2020)

Nice, France


November 9-13

62nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics

Memphis, TN


December 9-10

Fusion Power Associates 41st Annual Meeting and Symposium

Washington, D.C.


Editor: Sterling P. Smith (

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