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.

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 18 years’ experience investigating radiation effects and defect formation in materials with her current focus on developing armor and fuel materials for fusion. She is a Royal Academy of Engineering / Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow in Understanding Radiation Damage Mechanisms in Novel, Compositionally Complex Alloys, is a member of EPSRC’s Fusion Advisory Board and the UKAEA Fusion Materials steering group. 

Gary Voss, UKAEA – The Tokamak

I am Garry Voss and I am currently working for UKAEA at the Culham Science Centre on Nuclear Fusion where I am the Lead Technical Advisor for Spherical Tokamaks. I am Facility Chief Engineer for the MAST-Upgrade project (a medium sized spherical tokamak) and also work on the development of fusion reactor designs for the STEP project. I have 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. My background is in electro-mechanical and nuclear engineering and the area I am 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.

Nigel Woolsey, University of York – Inertial Confinement Fusion

Nigel Woolsey is a Professor at the University of York, he moved to York in 2002 and leads a research group that uses powerful lasers to studying inertial confinement fusion and laboratory astrophysics. Nigel studied at the Universities Bristol and Oxford and as a postdoctoral researcher worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Queen’s University, Belfast and the Central Laser Facility. His inertial confinement fusion expertise spans 30 years following experiments, using the indirect drive approach to ICF, conducted at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1994. Nigel’s more recent work focuses on the direct-drive approach, with experiments conducted at the OMEGA laser at the University of Rochester, and as well as laser facilities in the UK and Europe. His group receives research funding from the UK research councils, EUROfusion and USA.

Nick Hawker CEO, First Light Fusion – Inertial Confinement Fusion

Nick’s research into fusion began in 2007 as part of his masters thesis, where he worked at the University of Oxford with Yiannis Ventikos. This work continued into a DPhil, where he performed hydrodynamic simulations of shock-driven cavity collapse. These simulations showed that cavity collapse leads to inertial confinement of the gas inside the cavity and revealed that extreme states of matter could be reached, possibly entering the regime for fusion. To explore the concept of energy generation via this process, Nick and Yiannis co-founded First Light Fusion Ltd in 2011.

Nick also spent three years tutoring at Lady Margaret Hall during his studies. After finishing his DPhil in 2012, Nick joined First Light Fusion as CEO and CTO, and continues to oversee the technical vision of the company.

Steve Cowley, PPPL (US) – International Fusion Landscape

Steven Cowley is director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. A theoretical physicist and international authority on fusion energy, he led the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority from 2009 to 2016. Much of Cowley’s research career has been devoted to modelling and understanding plasma turbulence in nuclear fusion, a phenomenon that must be controlled to achieve stable fusion. From 2011 until 2016 Cowley was a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. Cowley is a fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was knighted by the Queen of England in June 2018 for his services to science and the development of nuclear fusion.

Aneeqa Khan, University of Manchester – Meet the Experts: International perspective

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. Her research interests are on materials for nuclear fusion.

Jiangang Li, ASIPP –  Meet the Experts: International perspective

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.

Alain Becoulet, ITER – Meet the Experts: International perspective

Dr. Alain Bécoulet is a physicist and nuclear fusion specialist. Since 2020, he has been the Head of the Engineering Domain of the ITER Project, an international nuclear fusion research and engineering demonstration project in France. Previously, he was a Research Director for the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) and, in particular, Director of the IRFM, the Institute for Research on Fusion by Magnetic Confinement. He is the author of “Star Power: ITER and the International Quest for Fusion Energy” (MIT Press 2022).

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

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.

Liz Surrey, Former Head of Technology, UKAEA – Plasma Heating and Current Drive Systems

Dr Elizabeth Surrey has worked in fusion technology for over twenty years, joining the UKAEA JET neutral beam group in 2000 having previously worked on other particle beam technologies, including as an OEM with UKAEA since 1987. In 2010 she became involved with the EU-DEMO programme, initially developing neutral beam injectors for DEMO, this led to the creation of the UKAEA Technology Programme, covering a wider range of R&D into the technologies required for power plant class fusion power plants. From 2011 until retiring in 2020, Dr Surrey developed the Technology Programme into a ~£50M enterprise, with multiple international collaborations.

Jan Coenen, Forschungszentrum Juelich, Germany – Plasma Exhaust and divertor design in Tokamaks

Jan Willem Coenen studied Physics at RWTH Aachen University from 2006,  after which he turned his attention to Fusion Research in the form of a PhD in Plasma Physics at Heinrich Heine University and Research Center Juelich, particularly edge plasma diagnostics. Since 2009 he is part of the Plasma-Wall -Interaction activities at Forschungszentrum Juelich where he is, since 2013, the leader of the Materials and Components Department. As part of his activities he is leading a Subproject in the EUROfusion Work-package of Plasma Wall Interaction and Exhaust. In addition he is an Adjunct Professor for Engineering Physics at UW-Madison, and Topical Leader Materials in the ITPA Divertor SOL.

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

Lee Packer leads the Applied Radiation Technology Group at UKAEA. He has gained more than 23 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 contributed to around 70 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.

Andrew Davis, UKAEA – Digital Approaches to Design in Fusion

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


Ian Chapman, CEO, UKAEA – Introduction to Fusion & Tokamaks

Ian Chapman became CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and Director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy 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 Institute of Physics Paterson Medal in 2013, the European Physical Society Early Career Prize in 2014, 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 was made a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2013 and became a visiting Professor at Durham University in 2015.

Prof 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.

The abstracts for the speaker presentations are available here