Speakers 2023 – York Week

York Week: 19th – 22nd June 2023

Matthias Ruth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, University of York

Dr. Matthias Ruth is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York, York, United Kingdom.

Professor Ruth holds a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and a PhD in Geography from the University of Illinois, where he also received training in engineering and biology. Professor Ruth spent almost a decade at Boston University and more than a decade at the University of Maryland where he was the Roy F. Weston Chair in Natural Economics and Policy Advisor on Sustainability to the Chancellor. Following his tenure at Maryland, Professor Ruth joined Northeastern University, Boston, USA, where he served as Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and as the Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, as well as Founding Director of the University’s Resilient Cities Laboratory. He comes to the University of York after serving first as Vice-President for Research and then as Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Alberta, one of Canada’s top-five comprehensive, research-intensive universities. There he oversaw a research budget of over £300 million annually and administrative staff of more than 220 individuals across the University’s central research and innovation operations.

Prof. Ruth’s research focuses on dynamic modeling of natural resource use, industrial and infrastructure systems analysis, and environmental economics and policy. His theoretical work heavily draws on concepts from engineering, economics and ecology, while his applied research utilizes methods of non-linear dynamic modeling as well as adaptive and anticipatory management. Applications of his work cover the full spectrum from local to regional, to national and global environmental challenges, as well as the investment and policy opportunities these challenges present. Professor Ruth has published 20 books and over 150 papers and book chapters in the scientific literature. He is a founder of Ecological Economics and founding Editor-in-Chief of the science journal Urban Climate, serves on the boards of numerous academic journals, scientific organizations and companies, and collaborates extensively with scientists and policy makers worldwide..

Howard Wilson, University of York – Fusion Energy: the conditions & approaches

Following 18 years working as a theoretical plasma physicist on the UK national fusion programme at UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham site, Howard Wilson was appointed as Chair of Plasma Physics at University of York in 2005. In 2012, he established the York Plasma Institute, and served as its Director until 2019. He has been Director of the EPSRC-funded Fusion Energy Centre for Doctoral Training since 2009, which now operates with some 80 PhD students across its five university partners. In 2017, Howard was appointed as UKAEA Research Programme Director on a part-time secondment, which included leading the development of the science and technology case for the STEP fusion demonstration power plant programme. He established the STEP programme as its interim Director during 2019-2020. He is presently Director for the £4.3M EPSRC research Programme Grant Turbulent Dynamics of Tokamak Plasmas (TDoTP) – a collaboration across four leading universities.

Nick Walkden, Frazer Nash – Plasma Physics for Fusion Industry

Nick is a Senior Consultant at Frazer-Nash consultancy, and is an established expert in fusion plasma physics, strategy, and policy. As an award-winning early career researcher at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Nick contributed to over 40 journal papers in fusion plasma physics, and led international teams on large fusion experiments in the U.K., Switzerland, and Germany. In recent years Nick has shifted focus to fusion strategy and policy, working with Government, the public, and private sector to help drive fusion forward in the U.K, and make the U.K. the best place in the world for fusion. Nick continues to maintain a focus on plasma physics with recent projects including the investigation of turbulent transport in the divertor of fusion pilot-plant devices, and non-linear investigations of basic plasma devices for ion separation.

Amy Gandy, University of Sheffield – Materials Science for Fusion Industry

Dr Amy Gandy is a Senior Lecturer in Nuclear Materials Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, at the University of Sheffield. She has 20 years’ experience investigating radiation effects and defect formation in materials with her current focus on developing armour and fuel materials for fusion. She has previously held a Royal Academy of Engineering / Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow in Understanding Radiation Damage Mechanisms in Novel, Compositionally Complex Alloys, and is currently a member of EPSRC’s Fusion Advisory Board and the UKAEA Fusion Materials steering group.


Gary Voss, UKAEA – The Tokamak

Garry Voss is currently working for UKAEA at the Culham Science Centre on Nuclear Fusion where he is the Lead Technical Advisor for Spherical Tokamaks. He is Facility Chief Engineer for the MAST-Upgrade project (a medium sized spherical tokamak) and also leads the development of the commercial fusion reactor design for the STEP project. He has previously worked on various fusion reactor projects mainly involving spherical tokamaks and also spent some time working in the aerospace industry on the development of space planes. His background is in electro-mechanical and nuclear engineering and the area he is most interested in is the architecture of a fusion device, where striking a balance between the often conflicting requirements of each sub-system is essential.

Mark Henderson, UKAEA – Microwave Heating and Current Drive system for tokamak power plants

Mark Henderson completed his PhD at Auburn University associated with the design, construction and operation of the Compact Auburn Torsatron. From 1992 to 2008, Mark worked at CRPP (SPC) in Lausanne, Switzerland as part of the team designing, building and operating the microwave heating system on the TCV tokamak. This included the use of microwaves for controlling the seawtooth instability, non-induction plasma operation and control of internal transport barriers. In 2004 he imitated alternative design concepts for the ITER upper launcher and then for the whole system that aimed at a simplified design with improved functionality. In 2008, Mark joined the ITER Organisation as the head of the Electron Cyclotron Section leader until 2021 upon which he joined the STEP team as the group leader for the STEP HCD system.


Fernanda Rimini, UKAEA – Tokamak Operational Scenarios

Arrived at JET in 1987 with a 1 year post-doc grant … and didn’t leave until 1999, including participation in the 1997 record DTE1 experiments. After a few years at CEA Cadarache, France, came back to JET in 2009 and started working for the UKAEA in JET Plasma Operations Group. Presently JET Senior Exploitation Manager for EUROfusion. My main role is participation in, and management of, scientific and technical research and engineering developments in the European Fusion programme. Main area of competence lies in plasma physics, real-time plasma control, scenario development and integrated machine commissioning. I am one of the JET Expert Session Leaders with overall responsibility for safe tokamak operation close to the technical boundaries of the JET machine, and I have been part of the group of international experts tasked, in 2016/2017, to revise with IO the ITER Research Plan.

Hartmut Zohm, Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics – Diagnostics and Control and Panelist: EU Fusion Landscape

Prof. Hartmut Zohm is a director at Max-Planck-Institut for Plasma Phyics in Garching, Germany. His department operates the ASDEX Upgrade tokamak experiment. He has a broad expertise in tokamak physics, with emphasis on developing consistent operational scenarios for future tokamak fusion power plants. He is also involved in the European studies for a demonstration fusion power plant (DEMO), where he leads the Plasma System Division of the DEMO Central Team of the EUROfusion Consortium.

Nigel Woolsey, University of York – Inertial Confinement Fusion

Nigel Woolsey is currently a Professor at the University of York, where he has been based since 2002. He leads a research group that utilises advanced laser technologies to investigate inertial confinement fusion and laboratory astrophysics. Nigel received his education from the Universities of Bristol and Oxford, and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Queen’s University Belfast, and the Central Laser Facility. With over 30 years of expertise in inertial confinement fusion, Nigel conducted experiments utilising the indirect drive approach to inertial fusion at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1994. Nigel’s more recent research has focused on the direct-drive approach, conducting experiments at the OMEGA laser at the University of Rochester, as well as various laser facilities across Europe and the UK. His research group is supported by funding from UK research councils, industry, and the USA.


Hugo Doyle, First Light Fusion – Inertial Confinement Fusion

Hugo Doyle is Head of Experimental Physics at First Light Fusion Ltd. His team has been responsible for building the capability to experimentally validate fusion in the laboratory, proving the First Light projectile fusion concept last year. This involved building a launcher to accelerate 1 cm scale projectiles to 10 km/s to impact deuterium tritium filled targets and measuring the burst of neutrons emitted, in the laboratory in Oxfordshire. Their focus is now switching to look at the next, much larger stage – a gain scale experiment.
He has been at First Light for eight years. Before this he studied laser driven laboratory astrophysics during his PhD at Imperial and as a post-doc at Oxford which involved using some of the largest lasers in the world to reproduce conditions similar to those found at the centre of a star.


Aneeqa Khan, University of Manchester – Panel Chair

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.

Jiangang Li, ASIPP – Panelist: Chinese Fusion Landscape

Jiangang Li, member of Chinese academy of engineering, professor of plasma physics institute,Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), Chair of Chinese fusion advisory committee, Vice chair of Chinese Physical Society, Head of Chinese Fusion Engineering Testing Reactor (CFETR) projector. He was the director of ASIPP, vice president of university of science and technology of China. He was in charge EAST construction and experiments.

Matthew Hill, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – Panelist: NIF

Matthew Hill is an experimental physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. After completing his PhD in 2009, he joined the team that commissioned and operated the UK’s largest laser facility – Orion – acting as a link scientist for external users before moving to work at LLNL in 2018. An active member of the laser-plasma community, he served on the LaserNetUS Peer Review Panel for its first four years and is a co-author of the recent US Department of Energy report on the Basic Research Needs for Inertial Fusion Energy. His current research uses the world’s largest lasers, including the National Ignition Facility at LLNL, to explore material properties such as strength and equation-of-state under extreme temperatures and pressures, and some of the highest average power laser systems such as those at ELI in the EU to develop new diagnostics and applications in high-energy-density science and fusion energy.

Sabina Griffith, ITER – Panelist: ITER

Sabina Griffith works as Communication officer for the ITER Organization and has been with the project its official implementation in 2006.

Sabina has a University degree in Physical Oceanography and worked in Polar Research before she changed course and became a science journalist. Over 15 years she worked for different media.

Today she is in charge of ITER media relations and international outreach.

Siwoo Yoon, Korea Institute of Fusion Energy(KFE) – Panelist: South Korean Fusion Landscape

Dr. Si-Woo(S.W.) Yoon has 20+ years of experience, since his Ph.D at TU Muenchen in 2003 for the analysis of impurity transport at ASDEX-U, in the area of fusion research and development, encompassing plasma control, numerical simulation, tokamak operation and plasma physics, project management, strategic planning, and oversight for large-scale fusion engineering and construction projects such as the KSTAR Project. Presently, he is the vice-president of Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) and also the director of KSTAR Research Center, leading the KSTAR program in Korea and also in charge of the fusion related research at KFE.

Rachel Lawless, UKAEA – Fuelling a Tokamak

Rachel Lawless is Head of the tritium and fuel cycle research programme at UKAEA. Rachel studied at the University of Birmingham, focusing on particle physics before making the switch to fusion. She has worked in fusion fuel cycle development and tritium research for 10 years; and has worked on a range of tritium handling issues such as permeation, isotope separation and fuel cycle design; as well as gaining hands-on experience operating the JET tritium handling system. She is now responsible for the development of UKAEA’s tritium research strategy and for managing experimental and theoretical tritium research projects across a wide range of fuel cycle relevant topics, including tasks for large international projects such as EU DEMO.

Lee Packer, UKAEA – Nuclear/Neutronics Analysis of Fusion Systems

Lee Packer leads the Applied Radiation Technology Group at UKAEA. He has gained more than 24 years’ experience in areas spanning nuclear research and applications in academia, industry and defence sectors with links to several international partners, the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency. He has authored or contributed to around 90 peer-reviewed publications and is currently leading or supporting various research grants and commercial activities in applied nuclear areas, predominantly focussed on progressing nuclear fusion research and technology. He has extensive experience with radiation transport simulation tools and analysis, radiological measurements and nuclear forensics, nuclear instrumentation development and calibration. His group of 18 scientific research staff contribute to the development and application of state-of-the-art radiation transport methods, codes and activation tools (and underlying nuclear data) with wide-ranging applications in nuclear areas.

Gurdeep Singh Kamal, Tokamak Energy – Nuclear/Neutronics Analysis of Fusion Systems

Gurdeep Singh Kamal is passionate about developing a sustainable future with energy security. He joined Tokamak Energy in 2020 as a Senior Neutronics Engineer and has since risen to the role as Head of Neutronics, where he spearheads the development of cutting-edge radiation shielding solutions.
In his current position, Gurdeep leads a team responsible for a wide range of Neutronics tasks. This includes designing and implementing advanced radiation shields to effectively safeguard essential components and personnel from fusion processes, as well as studying the tritium breeding capability of blankets and the transmutational effects on plasma-facing components. His team’s work plays a crucial role in designing a safe and efficient fusion power plant, which is key to advancing sustainable energy solutions.

Andrew Davis, UKAEA – Digital Approaches to Design in Fusion

Andrew Davis is lead for Advanced Engineering Simulation within the Computing Division at UKAEA. He is also lead for the Digital Enablers programme within the STEP project. He has done work to revolutionise NASA’s space radiation workflows and has worked in particle physics, fusion and nuclear.