Fonck to head DOE Office of Fusion Energy Science
U.S. Department of Energy has named Steenbock Professor Raymond
Fonck to lead its Office
of Fusion Energy Science (OFES), located within the DOE Office of
Science. The OFES oversees United States research in fusion energy,
plasma physics and high-energy-density physics. Fonck assumed the role
of OFES associate director on March 1.
Fonck will direct a large
portion of his efforts toward ITER, a seven-member international project
designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility
of fusion power. Preparation of the construction site in Cadarache,
France, began in early 2007.
The international experiment
presents U.S. fusion researchers with exciting domestic opportunities
that parallel ITER, says Fonck. “The responsibility of the Office
of Fusion Energy Science is to work with the fusion community to guide
that research and to maintain a competitive edge as we head into a new
era,” he says.
A major funding agency for
basic plasma physics research in the United States, the office also
directs a wide range of research activities on domestic magnetic fusion
facilities. It supports large programs in theory and computation to
support the development of fusion energy science and is one of the U.S.
agencies that supports the emerging field of high-energy-density physics.
As head of OFES, Fonck will
initiate discussions that eventually will guide U.S. fusion research
priorities—among which are basic plasma physics and science. “It’s
those possibilities and the excitement of trying to sort it out that
makes it a challenge,” he says. “We think we can really
make a difference.”
Fonck will take a research
leave of absence from UW-Madison, where he directs Pegasus, the third-largest
fusion-research experiment of its kind in the world. A low-aspect-ratio
toroidal fusion experiment, Pegasus tests basic theoretical ideas about
magnetic confinement geometry and the ability to confine plasmas at
very high pressure.