SOFE Awards

Dr. Hutch Neilson – 2020 IEEE NPSS Merit Award

Dr. Hutch Neilson

Hutch Neilson is a Senior Physicist with Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and member of the U.S. ITER Diagnostics Team. From 2016 until recently he was the Team Lead, responsible for design and fabrication of U.S. contributions to ITER's Diagnostic System. Prior to that he led the U.S. collaboration with Germany's W7-X stellarator project and oversaw the delivery of hardware contributions and formation of the U.S. research team. Neilson began his career in fusion with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1974 and joined PPPL in 1996. He received B.S. and M.S degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1973, and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Tennessee- Knoxville in 1979. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a Senior Member of the IEEE. He is the recipient of the 2020 IEEE NPSS Merit Award “for for decades of leadership on national and international fusion experiments."

Dr. David Ruzic – 2020 Fusion Technology Award

Dr. David Ruzic

Dr. David Ruzic arrived on the University of Illinois campus 36 years ago, and received the NSF Presidential Young Investor Award. Dr. Ruzic was one of the first who recognized in early 1990’s the crucial importance of surface roughness on plasma-material interactions in fusion devices and developed fractal-based model and code This topic is one of the cornerstones for what is now called divertor plasma detachment regime, which is a primary operational regime of ITER divertor.

In early 2000s Dr. Ruzic became one of the leaders founding the US experimental program on liquid diverter targets. He has recognized an importance of thermoelectric effects in liquid targets, which can efficiently propel liquid other solid substrate avoiding liquid overheating, which can result in unacceptably high impurity flux into plasma. In 2016 a prototype of divertor module, utilizing this idea, was successfully tested at EAST tokamak in China.

Professor Ruzic founded and directs the "Center for Plasma Material Interactions" at the University of Illinois and led the effort to bring HIDRA (Hybrid Illinois Device for Research and Applications) to the University of Illinois.

Dr. Elizabeth Surrey – 2021 Fusion Technology Award

Dr. Elizabeth Surrey

Dr. Elizabeth Surrey did her PhD research in experimental plasma physics, plasma diagnostics and continued in Neutral Beam Test Bed in Beam Development Group at Culham. Dr. Surrey joined the UKAEA in 2000 and worked on the JET Neutral Beam test bed. She became group leader for neutral beam operations and was responsible for Tritium Operations in the JET scientific program in 2003. Dr. Surrey went on to become the EU Coordinating Officer for Accelerator Systems on IFMIF from 2005 to 2009 and was appointed chair of the EU Coordinating Council on Neutral Beams 2007 to 2013. During this time Dr. Surrey was building the outreach to universities and the international community.

In 2012, Liz became the Head of Fusion Technology at UKAEA. Up to that point, UKAEA operated two tokamaks – JET and MAST Upgrade, largely focusing on the plasma physics and operations. The Fusion Technology team began as a handful of individuals that Dr. Surrey built into an international effort. In the last eight years, UKAEA has trebled in size to more than 600, with the growth being dominantly in fusion technology. Elizabeth emphasized the need for close-coupling of the fusion community in supply chains and focussed on capability to design with uncertainty and design for manufacture and maintainability. Dr. Surrey developed a department with a broad range of capability including materials, neutronics, robotic handling, power plant design, tritium inventory management, safety and manufacturing technology. UKAEA is now home to the largest fusion robotics facility in the world.

Dr. Surrey helped securing over $100M to build a unique test facility to simulate the combined loadings within a fusion environment and also established a new UKAEA research facility in Yorkshire, England situated close to a significant UK manufacturing technology cluster and a new tritium research facility that will demonstrate the full ITER-like tritium loop.

Dr. Surrey has just retired in 2020 from the UKAEA, but remains an important voice in this community.