College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison
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EPISODE: The Engineering Physics Department Newsletter


Fall / Winter 2003-2004
Featured articles

Following particle paths
in magnetic fusion experiments

Chain reaction: DOE grant aids infrastructure, educational upgrades
for reactor

Coating could take
burnables out of
nuclear fuel

Opposites attract:
Stable and unstable materials couple for
high performance

EP Department

Regular Features

Message from the chair

Faculty/staff news

New faculty: Todd Allen

Faculty retirement:
James D. Callen

Student news


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Portrait of James D. Callen

James D. Callen
(16K JPG)

N oted internationally for his research involvement, teaching and leadership in the fusion field, Donald W. Kerst Professor of Engineering Physics and Physics James D. Callen retired from the faculty and formal teaching responsibilities this summer.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering in 1962 and 1964, respectively, from Kansas State University. He also studied mechanical engineering and physics at the Technische Hogeschool Te Eindhoven, Netherlands, from 1962 to 1963 on a Fulbright Fellowship. Focusing on applied plasma physics, Callen earned his PhD in nuclear engineering in 1968 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then, he did postdoctoral research on a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship with M.N. Rosenbluth at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.

After three years as an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and seven years in various research and management capacities with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he joined the Departments of Engineering Physics (then Nuclear Engineering) and Physics in 1979. Since coming to UW-Madison, he also has spent extended periods of time at other institutions: the Joint European Tokamak Project in England (Guggenheim Fellowship, 1986 to ‘87), the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (sabbatical, 1991 to ‘92), and the Institute for Theoretical Physics (University of California-Santa Barbara, spring 1995).

In the 1970s, Callen pioneered work on the theory of plasma heating through neutral beam injection and began studying transient electron heat transport and “magnetic islandography” in tokamaks.

However, his most outstanding achievement, according to colleagues around the world, was his development (in 1986) and refinement of the theory of the neoclassical tearing mode, recognized today as one of the major obstacles to tokamak fusion. The theory and its experimental verification (in 1995), developed with Associate Professor of Engineering Physics Chris Hegna and Zuoyang Chang (then postdoctoral students), laid the foundation for new experiments by many tokamak research groups worldwide. For the work, Callen received the 2003 Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication at the college’s Engineers’ Day celebration on Oct. 17.

Callen is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society and the American Physical Society. In 1990, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Co-author of “WASH-1295,” an early (1994) U.S. tokamak “bible,” he has been significantly involved in many major national fusion program activities, including founding and initially leading the Transport Task Force. He has co-authored two books and more than 165 journal-type publications, and lectured internationally about tokamaks and advanced fusion plasma physics. On campus, he supervised about 20 PhD theses and taught advanced plasma physics courses to most of the plasma and fusion graduate students over the past 24 years. He continues to work on a book based on his lecture notes. In addition, he founded (in 1988) and continues to lead the Center for Plasma Theory and Computation at UW-Madison.

In “retirement,” he hopes to focus on book-writing and to continue to be active in fusion research—interspersed with extended trips (particularly during the spring semester) with his wife, Judy, to their lake cabin in Tennessee.


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Date last modified: Monday, 15-November-2003 15:43:00 CDT
Date created: 15-November-2003