Speakers 2023

For information about the content of lectures, please see Lecture Summaries.

Oxfordshire Week 25th – 28th September 2023

Ian Chapman, UKAEA – The UK fusion programme in the international landscape

Sir Ian Chapman became CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority in October 2016. He has held a number of international roles in fusion, including membership of the Princeton Plasma Physics Advisory board, the Chinese Academy of Sciences Plasma Physics advisory board and chairing the IAEA International Fusion Research Committee. His research has been recognised with a number of international awards, including the American Physical Society Stix Award in 2017, the Royal Society Kavli Medal in 2019 and the Institute of Physics Glazebrook Medal for leadership in 2021. He became a visiting Professor at Durham University in 2015, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2022 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2023. He was knighted in the King’s New Years’ Honours in 2023.

Aneeqa Khan, University of Manchester – Materials Technology for Fusion

Dr Aneeqa Khan is a Research Fellow in Fusion. Having completed a PhD in materials for fusion applications, followed by working at the ITER Organization and Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, she is now based at the University of Manchester (co-sponsored by UKAEA and STFC). She is Co-Lead of Fusion Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) activities at Manchester and an associate director of the CDT. She is the Lead Dalton Nuclear Institute Champion and sits on the Fusenet board of governors. She also uses her expertise to engage with policy makers and the public. Her research interests are on materials for nuclear fusion.

Tamsin Jackson, UKAEA – Tritium and Fuelling Technologies

Tamsin Jackson is a Senior Process Engineer at UKAEA. Tamsin studied chemical engineering at the University of Bath, before commencing a career in formulation engineering, during which time she became a chartered engineer. A change of direction led to her joining the UKAEA, where she has since contributed to tritium research, operations and engineering activity for JET, ITER, DEMO, STEP and commercial fusion organisations, developing significant knowledge of fusion fuel cycle design and implementation.

Susie Speller, University of Oxford – Magnets and Magnet Technology

Susie Speller is a Professor of Materials Science at the University of Oxford and a Fellow at St Catherine’s College. She has spent over 20 years researching superconducting materials in Oxford, originally working on high temperature cuprate superconducting thin films for microwave device applications, before diversifying into a wider range of superconductors including coated conductors, iron-based superconductors, low temperature superconductors and MgB 2 . In collaboration with industrial partners, recent projects have included the development of superconducting joints for MRI and NMR applications, bulk superconductors for compact magnet applications and radiation damage of coated conductors for fusion magnets. Susie is currently Letters Editor of Superconductor Science and Technology and has recently written a book called “A Materials Science Guide to Superconductors: and how to make them super,” aimed at introducing superconductors materials to the general public.

Lee Aucott, UKAEA – Manufacturing for Fusion

Lee Aucott received his undergraduate degree in mechanical and doctorate in materials engineering. His PhD was focussed on the science and technology of welding and was completed via a European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Collaborative Project. Since, he has gained significant experience working in the UK nuclear sector in a variety of roles focussed on the development of emerging manufacturing technologies for the nuclear sector. In his current role as Manufacturing Lead for the STEP programme, he is responsible for the manufacture and inspection of the UKAEA’s Spherical Tokomak for Energy Production (STEP) reactor and has broad interests across the full spectrum of manufacturing and inspection challenges associated with nuclear fusion.

Dr. Samuel Murphy, University of Lancaster – Breeding blanket design

Dr. Samuel Murphy is a Senior Lecturer in Nuclear Materials and is Director of Studies for Nuclear Engineering at Lancaster University. His research focuses on the behaviour of materials in extreme environments, particularly the formation of defects and their impact on macroscopic properties. In particular, he is interested in how the properties of breeder blanket materials will evolve during fusion reactor operation, including the mechanical stability, tritium release rate and the thermal conductivity. His work utilises state-of-the art atomistic simulation techniques to develop atomic level understanding of the processes that dictate the materials performance, information that is difficult to obtain experimentally.

Ursel Fantz, IPP Garching – Plasma Heating and Current Drive Systems – neutral beam injection

Ursel Fantz studied physics and received her PhD in electrical engineering in 1995. She is Head of the “ITER Technology and Diagnostics Division” at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics, Garching and Professor at the University of Augsburg heading the Group “AG Experimental Plasma Physics”. Her research focusses on low temperature plasmas physics with emphasis on the negative hydrogen ion source development for neutral beam systems of fusion devices, in particular to ITER. Her work covers the range from fundamentals to applications towards prototype developments combining physics with engineering issues.

Rob Skilton, UKAEA – System and Plant Maintenance

Rob Skilton is UKAEA Robotics Fellow, working at RACE, the robotics division within the UK Atomic Energy Authority, where he leads collaborative research with industry and academia on Robotics and Autonomous systems in nuclear fusion and decommissioning. Rob has been working in robotics for fusion for over 10 years and has been deeply involved in UK and international fusion robotics programmes as well as UK and international decommissioning research programmes. Rob was responsible for leading various activities within the Robotics and AI for Nuclear (RAIN) Hub as well as developing and leading technical aspects of the LongOps programme, a £12M UK-Japan collaboration on digital tools to de-risk robotic decommissioning operations. Rob is currently leading the robotics theme within the UK Magnetic Fusion Research programme.

Niek Lopes Cardozo, Technical University of Eindhoven – Socio-economics of Fusion Energy

Niek Lopes Cardozo is professor of Science and Technology of Nuclear Fusion at Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, where he initiated the interdisciplinary MSc programme on nuclear fusion. Before focusing on the training of the new generation of fusion engineers, he directed the Dutch fusion research programme. 

He received the Royal Shell prize for his scientific work in nuclear fusion as well as his efforts in outreach. In parallel to his work as a researcher and educator he has been active in science policy. Among others, he served on the Executive Board of the Dutch Research Council, chairing the Science Domain.

Climate change and the energy transition have been long time interests (and concerns). In recent years his research has focused on the socio- and techno-economics of the energy transition, and the potential role of fusion energy therein.

Valerie Jamieson, UKAEA – Meet the Experts: Fusion Commercialisation

Dr Valerie Jamieson, Development Manager, The Fusion Cluster, UK Atomic Energy Authority.

Valerie’s role is to encourage collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation between companies and organisations interested in fusion energy and all the exciting technologies that make it happen. She joined UKAEA in 2021 after many years at New Scientist and has a PhD in particle physics from the University of Glasgow.


Heather Lewtas, UKAEA – Meet the Experts: Fusion Commercialisation

Heather Lewtas is the Head of Innovation at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). The Innovation department enables UKAEA to effectively develop commercial opportunities arising across all aspects of the fusion programme and help deliver that impact. Heather was previously the Strategic Operations Manager for STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) an ambitious programme to design and construct a prototype fusion energy plant, targeting operations around 2040 as well as the lead for multiple manufacturing programmes across UKAEA. Before joining UKAEA she worked in the defence and aerospace sector running technology programmes on materials and structures and in spacecraft instrument having received her PhD in Physics from the University of Oxford.

Warrick Matthews, Tokamak Energy – Meet the Experts: Fusion Commercialisation

Warrick joined Tokamak Energy, based near Oxford, as MD in January 2023. Tokamak Energy is pursuing the global deployment of clean, secure, affordable fusion power in the 2030s through the combined development of spherical tokamaks with high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets. Prior to Tokamak Energy, Warrick worked at Rolls-Royce for 24 years and most recently managed £3.6bn of annual spend as Chief Procurement Officer for the Civil Aerospace division.

Warrick is passionate about sustainability, people, diversity and inclusion.
He has a BA in International Management and Business Administration – University of Reading/Université de Toulouse Le Mirail.

Elisabeth Siegel, TAE Technologies – Meet the Experts: Fusion Commercialisation

Elisabeth Siegel is based in Oxford, UK and helps lead TAE’s UK fusion presence on the Policy and Global Affairs team. She has previously worked on a range of emerging technology policy issues for companies – including several organizations working on smart grid or other climate innovation topics – while based at Catalyst Wayfare and Albright Stonebridge Group, among other postings. In 2021, she was a visiting fellow at the American University of Iraq Sulaimani’s Institute for Regional and International Studies. She received her MPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford and her BA in Global Affairs from Yale University.

David Bryon, First Light Fusion – Meet the Experts: Fusion Commercialisation

With diverse industry and spinout experience, David brings deep hands-on financial, commercial, and operational expertise to First Light Fusion. With 17 years of technology spinout experience, he enjoys making hard things possible.

Following a career in both large corporates and SMEs, David has held CFO, COO and CEO roles in an University spin-outs. He has also run a consultancy, Right Brain Finance, supporting technology start-ups as they raised money and grew their businesses. His involvement in First Light began in 2011 and he joined the Board Light in 2015. Since then, he has been deeply involved in all aspects of the business, from the fundraising to commercialising the technology.

David holds a BA in Geography, MSc in Psychology and is a CIMA member.

Mark Gilbert, UKAEA – Fusion Waste and Waste Management

Mark has more than 15 years’ experience working on computational nuclear inventory analysis and nuclear materials modelling at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Mark is the programme leader for a team concerned with all aspects of understanding how materials will interact with the fusion environment, in areas including activation analysis and waste assessments, atomistic modelling, nuclear data evaluation and acquisition, corrosion and oxidation, plasma wall interactions and magnetic effects. The team supports both the operation of current reactors such as MAST-U and JET, and predictions and modelling for future experiments and reactors such as ITER, STEP and EU-DEMO. Mark is also heavily involved in the development of the regulatory strategy for fusion, particularly concerning waste handling, as is interacting with international bodies such as IAEA to consider how best to measure, regulate and mitigate radioactive waste from fusion reactors.

Mike Webley, Environment Agency– Fusion Powerplant Safety and Regulation

Mike is a Senior Advisor in the Environment Agency’s Advanced Technologies and Future Radioactive Substances Regulation Strategy team. He is the Project Lead for Advanced Technologies projects funded by the UK government including packages to build regulatory capability and capacity in Fusion. Mike engages with UK government on future policy and with a fusion vendors. Mike leads on the environmental interactions with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) including developing safety and regulatory TECDOCs.

Clare Lee, Health & Safety Executive – Fusion Powerplant Safety and Regulation

Clare is a Radiation Specialist Inspector at the Health & Safety Executive. In that capacity, she has inspected a substantial array of non-nuclear radiation sites ranging from schools to irradiation plants and hospitals to fusion. Clare is also a certified Radiation Protection Adviser, a member of the Society for Radiological Protection and a Chartered Radiation Protection Professional. Previously, Clare was a researcher in the measurement of radioactivity and radiation dose at the National Physical Laboratory and a technical consultant for the IAEA.

Rachel Packer, Atkins – Engineering Delivery

Rachel Packer is Chief Engineer in Power and Nuclear at Atkins, and has worked for over 20 years in high integrity engineering. Starting out as graduate mechanical engineer on focussed projects in Oil and Gas and in Defence, she developed through mechanical systems, dynamics, structural dynamics and into civil structures. Leading technical teams from single discipline to multi-discipline with experience with regulators, safety, and complex stakeholder management, she became an Engineering Manager responsible for the technical delivery of large projects. Rachel has worked in several large infrastructure projects such as defence projects, including 10 years at ITER, the Hinckley Point C new EPR project and is now supporting UKAEA with STEP.

Chris Waldon, UKAEA – Systems Integration

Chris has over 25 years experience of leading the design and delivery of complex programmes with first of a kind (FOAK) endeavours containing unprecedented systems, structures and components. His experience spans the nuclear, pharmaceutical, chemical, refining and power generation industries. This has been in a variety of leadership settings successfully delivering in both commercial ventures and publicly funded research contexts. He is Deputy Director and Chief Engineer leading a government sponsored programme to develop a UK prototype fusion powerplant and establish the enterprise needed to deliver commercially viable fusion energy.