Vincent Sik-Hung Chan’s interest in fusion energy began when he was inspired by an article in Scientific American and completed an independent study project on the topic as an undergraduate at UW-Madison. He went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical and computer engineering in 1972 and 1973. In 1975, Chan received his PhD in electrical engineering and also married Pauline, a UW-Madison pharmacy student.
He then joined General Atomics, in San Diego, California, as a research scientist and moved into various leadership roles, including head of fusion theory in 1987 and director of core physics of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in 1991. He was named to his current position as director of the theory and computational science division in the energy group in 1998. His division maintains a diverse array of research and development projects, including fusion and fission energy systems, nuclear instrumentation and computer technology tools for remote collaboration.
Chan has contributed to a broad spectrum of plasma physics research. He spearheaded the advanced tokamak concept for economical fusion energy and champions using high-performance computing in magnetic fusion research and has produced more than 100 broadly cited journal articles. In 1988, Chan was named an American Physical Society (APS) fellow for his pioneering studies of current drive in tokamak fusion reactors and stabilizing plasma instabilities via resonant microwave heating. He has served as an APS Division of Plasma Physics officer, becoming chair in 2007.
Chan has participated on several governmental and international committees, including the U.S. Department of Energy Fusion Energy Science Advisory Committee. In 2001 he became coordinator of the United States and China magnetic fusion collaboration program, which has trained hundreds of Chinese fusion scientists and contributed to the success of a world-class Chinese Academy of Sciences research facility. For his work, Chan was one of only seven international scientists to receive the prestigious China State International Science and Technology Cooperation Award in 2010.
Additionally, Chan continues to stay engaged with UW-Madison. He currently serves on the College of Engineering Dean’s Industrial Advisory Board. “The strong foundation in physics and engineering provided by UW-Madison has served me well,” Chan says.
Chan and Pauline have two children. Brian is a medical intern at the Oregon Health and Science University, and Kevin is a physics doctoral candidate at the University of California at Berkeley.