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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Welcome

I'm a plasma physicist and fusion energy scientist in the Department of Engineering Physics. I work with Prof. Ray Fonck and Dr. George McKee, and I work on long-term assignment as a collaborating scientist at the NSTX-U experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) in Princeton, New Jersey. At NSTX-U, our group is primarily responsible for the 2D Beam Emission Spectroscopy diagnostic system. NSTX-U is a national user facility and PPPL is a national lab within the US Dept. of Energy, Office of Science.

Research Overview

Nuclear fusion can provide abundant, carbon-free energy without long-lived radioactive waste, but fusion energy is a challenging scientific endeavor. For magnetic fusion energy, magnetic fields confine a plasma (ionized gas) in a toroidal shape, and the plasma is heated to 100's of millions of degrees – hotter than the sun. To reach regimes favorable to fusion reactions, the plasma must exhibit good confinement of particles and thermal energy. The plasma, however, is susceptible to many instabilities that destroy or degrade confinement. The instabilities manifest as complex perturbations in electromagnetic fields, densities, temperatures, or even phase-space populations, and the instabilities exist across a wide range of time and spatial scales. Understanding and mitigating instabilities that degrade plasma confinement is a large component of magnetic fusion research. My research activities cover:

  • Turbulence and instabilities in magnetic fusion plasmas
  • Plasma diagnostics for turbulence and instabilities
  • MHD and gyrokinetic plasma simulations
  • Machine learning applications in fusion science
  • Software solutions for data access, management, and analysis

Read more »

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Google Scholar
ResearchGate
LinkedIn
Github

Education

PhD  Plasma Physics, Princeton University, 2009
    Disseration: Investigation of electron gyroscale fluctuations in the
    National Spherical Torus Experiment
(35 MB, pdf)
BA   Physics and Integrated Sciences, Northwestern University, 2001

Contact

Office: PPPL, B206 (Princeton, NJ)
Email: drsmith8@wisc.edu
Phone: (609) 243-3514