Speakers 2024

Oxford – 30th September – 3rd October 2024

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.

Thomas Davis, Oxford Sigma – Fusion Power Plant Design Codes and Regulation

Dr Thomas P Davis is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Sigma, an advanced materials fusion technology company based in UK and USA. Oxford Sigma tackles energy security and climate change by accelerating the commercialisation of fusion energy and our mission is to deliver materials technology, materials solutions, and fusion design services to the fusion industry. Thomas is the Chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) Section III Division 4 “Fusion Energy Devices” which sets the construction standard framework for fusion power stations around the world. He holds multiple fusion patents and has published fusion scientific papers in the field of design, materials, and supply chain. Thomas has a PhD in Materials Science from the University of Oxford (which was part of the Fusion CDT).

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


Photography: Bart van Overbeeke
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..

York – 17th – 20th June 2024

Adam Baker, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero- Welcome

Adam is a civil servant with over 20 years experience in government in areas such as front-line delivery, employment programmes, social justice and for the last 8 years science policy and international research infrastructure. He sponsored the UK Atomic Energy Authority for most of that time, as well as developing the UK’s fusion strategy, international partnerships and policy areas such as fusion funding and regulation. He is currently head of fusion policy in the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Prior to working in government Adam worked as post-doctoral research assistant at the University of East Anglia, he also holds an executive master’s degree in public policy from the LSE.

Roddy Vann, University of York – Fusion Energy: the conditions & approaches

Professor Roddy Vann began life as a mathematician at Cambridge University before pursuing a PhD in Theoretical Physics at the University of Warwick. In 2003, he was awarded a three-year EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in Theoretical Physics, after which he moved to York to commence a lectureship. Roddy is now Director of the Fusion Centre for Doctoral Training.  His research interests are in microwave imaging diagnostics, with particular interests in ultra-fast data acquisition and processing. He also has expertise in simulations of microwave interactions with plasmas.

Michele Romanelli, Tokamak Energy – Plasma Physics for Fusion Industry

Michele Romanelli is the Plasma Theory and Modelling Manager and Principal Physicist at Tokamak Energy Ltd based at Milton Park, Abingdon. His primary research interest is plasma turbulence, transport and confinement in compact, spherical tokamak reactors. He is also interested in computational physics, and his work span activities ranging from analytic theory and advanced computing. Michele received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Torino, Italy, in 1995 and his PhD in Physics from the Imperial College of London in 1998. He then went on to hold several research / managerial positions at JET, ENEA and CEA, before becoming JET Deputy Task Force Leader and EUROfusion Leader for the Code Development Project.

Michele has co-supervised several PhD students from UK and international Universities. Michele joined Tokamak Energy Ltd in 2020.

Garry 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.

Kate Lancaster, University of York – Inertial Confinement Fusion

Dr Kate Lancaster is a senior lecturer based at the York Plasma Institute, part of the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology at the University of York. She received her PhD in 2005 from Imperial College whilst based in Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. A post-doctoral position was followed by a permanent research position at the Central Laser Facility, before coming to the York Plasma Institute in 2012.

Her research expertise is in ultra-intense laser-plasma interactions and advanced inertial fusion schemes. She specifically is interested in the role energetic electrons play in laser plasma interactions and how we can manipulate and control them, which is relevant for alternative laser driven fusion schemes, laser driven sources, and physics at the intensity frontier.

She is the chair of the IOP plasma physics group, a member of the academic council for FuseNET, and reviews experimental proposals for a number of international laser facilities. She was the programme leader for the MSc in Fusion Energy from 2017 until 2022, and is a PhD supervisor for the Fusion Centre for Doctoral Training at York.

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.

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.

Kieran Gibson, University of York – Plasma Exhaust and divertor design in Tokamaks

Professor Kieran Gibson joined the University of York in 2007 as a Reader, before being appointed to a Chair in Plasma Physics in the York Plasma Institute in 2013, and from 2017 has been Head of School in the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology. His research is focused on the development of fusion energy and specialises in magnetically-confined fusion plasma research, seeking to provide environmentally sustainable sources of energy for the future. His expertise spans the development of plasma measurement systems, plasma stability, as well as studies of the handling of heat and particle exhaust at the edge of fusion devices – a critical issue for future fusion reactors which involves both plasma physics and materials science.

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, later as JET Senior Exploitation Manager for EUROfusion. I am now Head of Operations, Control and Tokamak Systems and my main role is participation in, and management of, scientific and technical research and engineering developments in the UK and International Fusion programme. Main area of competence lies in plasma physics, real-time plasma control, scenario development and integrated machine commissioning. I was 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 and again in 2023/24 to revise with IO the ITER Research Plan.

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. 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.

Ellie Tubman, Imperial College – Panelist

Ellie Tubman is a lecturer at Imperial College London in experimental high energy density plasma physics. Her primary area of expertise lies in understanding the influence of magnetic fields in laser-produced plasmas. She received her PhD from the University of York in 2012 before then joining the Magpie group at Imperial College London for a post-doctoral research position. She conducted further research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, joining the team of scientists at the National Ignition Facility and was involved in the exciting fusion ignition result of 2022!

Thomas Davis, Oxford Sigma – Panelist

Dr Thomas P Davis is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Oxford Sigma, an advanced materials fusion technology company based in UK and USA. Oxford Sigma tackles energy security and climate change by accelerating the commercialisation of fusion energy and our mission is to deliver materials technology, materials solutions, and fusion design services to the fusion industry. Thomas is the Chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC) Section III Division 4 “Fusion Energy Devices” which sets the construction standard framework for fusion power stations around the world. He holds multiple fusion patents and has published fusion scientific papers in the field of design, materials, and supply chain. Thomas has a PhD in Materials Science from the University of Oxford (which was part of the Fusion CDT).

Sophia Henneberg, IPP Griefswald – Panelist

Dr Sophia Henneberg is a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany. Her research focuses on developing, utilizing and extending optimization tools to find new, advantageous stellarator designs. Before she moved her focus to stellarators, she completed her PhD on nonlinear ballooning modes in tokamaks at the University of York, UK. Currently, she is the PI of the Stellarator Optimization EUROfusion TSVV (Theory, Simulation, Validation and Verification) group which is a European collaboration, including institutes in Spain, Switzerland, Finland and Germany. She also is the Stellarator Optimization Task Leader of the HILOADS (Helmholtz International Laboratory for Optimized Advanced Divertor in Stellarators) collaboration, which is an US-German collaboration. In addition, she is a core member of the international Simons collaboration “Hidden symmetries and Fusion Energy” where the primary research is stellarator optimization.

Paul Barron, Kyoto Fusioneering – Panelist

Paul joined the materials strand of the Fusion CDT in 2016, studying the development of novel fusion alloys at the University of Manchester, supervised by Ed Pickering. After a postdoc at the University of Glasgow, he joined Kyoto Fusioneering in September 2022 as a materials researcher in the plant technology division in Japan, where he works on a variety of fusion materials topics including liquid metal corrosion, SiC/SiC composite development, coatings, and tritium compatible materials.

Ella Fox-Widdows, Commonwealth Fusion Systems – Panelist

Having graduated with a masters in Maths and Physics from the University of York, Ella went on to complete a PhD on the Fusion CDT programme at the University of Liverpool in low temperature/edge plasma diagnostics with a focus on Langmuir probes and optical emission spectroscopy. Following the completion of her PhD, Ella began working on the SPARC diagnostics team at Commonwealth Fusion Systems leading the design of the Langmuir probes and neutral gas diagnostics systems, and currently lives in Boston, MA.

Samuel Ward, Eindhoven University of Technology – Panelist

Samuel Ward is a postdoctoral researcher addressing technoeconomic challenges in fusion energy. He has a passion for policy, having engaged governments on fusion strategy, with prior experience from the University of Cambridge Centre for Science & Policy.

Previously, his research focussed on using high-performance computing to simulate energetic particles in fusion plasmas, and has worked at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and ITER, where he was listed as an ITPA expert on fast ions.

He’s currently based at Eindhoven University of Technology, has a PhD from the University of York, and studied at the University of Manchester.

Phil Edmondson University of Manchester – Fuelling a tokamak

Prof. Phil Edmondson is the UKAEA Chair in Tritium Science & Technology at the University of Manchester where he leads a group investigating various aspects of the tritium breeder blanket fuel cycle for fusion power devices. This includes the extraction of tritium from breeder materials such as FLiBe, detritiating solid materials for waste handling, and how hydrogen isotopes alters material properties. Prior to this, he was Group Leader of the Radiation Effects and Microstructural Analysis Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for over 10 years, using advanced microscopy techniques to understand materials’ evolution under neutron irradiation for fusion systems.

Jonathan Shimwell, Proxima Fusion – Nuclear/neutronics Analysis of Fusion Systems

Neutronics background with focus on developing automated open source workflows that integrate into wider reactor design studies. Experience in fusion research at both government and start up level including EU-DEMO, UKAEA, STEP, CFS and First Light Fusion. A full stack neutronics analysis involved in several aspects of the tool chain beyond regular analysis including: nuclear data processing, particle transport code development, parametric geometry creation. A leader in the open source neutronics community creating software packages such as Paramak, neutronics-workshop and contributing to larger neutronics code development projects including OpenMC and DAGMC. Always looking for and creating methods of improving neutronics workflows to make them faster, more scalable, simpler to maintain, easier to deploy and more teachable.

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.