December 2002

From DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

PPPL researchers Yamada and Ji awarded by American Physical Society

Plainsboro, New Jersey - Masaaki Yamada and Hantao Ji, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), recently received the American Physical Society's (APS) 2002 Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research. The award recognizes a recent outstanding achievement in plasma physics research. Yamada and Ji, along with former PPPL graduate students Troy Carter and Scott Hsu, were cited "for the experimental investigation of driven magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma."

Magnetic reconnection is the breaking and topological rearrangement of magnetic field lines in a plasma - a hot, ionized gas. It is one of the most fundamental processes of plasma physics and has important relevance to fusion research, as well as to the physics of the earth's magnetosphere and solar flares. The APS honored Yamada, Ji, Carter, and Hsu for research conducted on the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) at PPPL. The four received the award during the Society's Division of Plasma Physics annual meeting last month in Orlando, Florida.

PPPL Director Rob Goldston said, "The work by Masaaki Yamada, Hantao Ji, Troy Carter and Scott Hsu on the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment has elucidated a physical problem of high importance in plasmas large and small - those in our laboratories aimed at producing fusion energy and those of astrophysical scale such as solar flares. The interplay of scientific fields that this represents is healthy for both."

Yamada, a PPPL Distinguished Research Fellow and an American Physical Society Fellow, is the Head of the MRX research program. He received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Tokyo and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois, joining PPPL in 1973 as a postdoctoral fellow. He carried out many basic plasma physics experiments before pioneering MRX in the early 1990's to explore the fundamental physics of magnetic reconnection.

Yamada has been the doctoral thesis advisor for a dozen graduate students of Princeton University, the University of Tokyo, and Purdue University and has held invited professor positions at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland, as well as at Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo in Japan. He is a resident of Princeton Township.

Ji received a bachelor's degree in physics from Ehime University in Japan in 1985 and a doctor of science degree in physics from the University of Tokyo in 1990. He conducted plasma physics research at the National Institution for Fusion Sciences in Japan and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before coming to PPPL. Since 1995, he has been conducting research on the MRX. Ji has published many papers on laboratory studies of basic physics phenomena observed in space, astrophysical, and fusion plasmas. He won a Kanbayashi International Fellowship (1985-1986), an Iwatani Memorial Fellowship (1986-1990), and a Department of Energy Outstanding Mentor Award in 2002. Ji is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Japan Society of Plasma Science and Nuclear Fusion Research. He is a resident of Plainsboro Township.

Carter is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles. Hsu this month joins the P-24 Plasma Physics Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico as a Frederick Reines Fellow. PPPL, funded by the Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University, is a collaborative national center for science and innovation leading to an attractive fusion energy source.











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