PPPL has a new interim director and is moving ahead with construction of prototype magnets

PPPL September 8, 2017

Rich Hawryluk

Rich Hawryluk has been appointed interim director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) while an international search for a permanent director moves forward, Princeton University Vice President for PPPL David McComas announced recently. Hawryluk, who has been heading the NSTX-U Recovery Project, is an internationally-known physicist and a former deputy director of PPPL.

“Rich has earned my highest respect and the respect of his colleagues and staff at PPPL and of researchers throughout the world for his work as a scientist, project manager, and leader. I am delighted he has agreed to head the Laboratory as we move into the next phase of the NSTX-U recovery,” McComas said.

Hawryluk said that he was grateful for the opportunity to lead the Laboratory where he has worked for more than four decades. “I feel deeply about this place,” he said. “It has given me enormous opportunities to do research, as well as scientific and technical management. I feel it’s incumbent on me to do all I possibly can to give the scientists and the engineers and the staff here exciting and productive scientific opportunities both in the near future as well for the long term.”

Terry Brog, who served as interim director since September 2016, will return to his previous position as deputy director for operations and chief operating officer that he assumed in June of 2016. Stacia Zelick, who served as interim deputy director for operations under Brog, will continue to serve in a leadership role. Michael Zarnstorff, the deputy director for research, will remain in his position. Physicists Jon Menard, head of NSTX-U research and Stefan Gerhardt, deputy engineering director for the project, will now lead the NSTX-U Recovery Project. Charles Neumeyer will remain as the NSTX-U Recovery Project engineering director and deputy head of engineering for NSTX-U.

The leadership change comes as PPPL moves ahead with constructing prototype magnets in preparation for replacing the one that failed last year and five others that were built under similar conditions.

Construction of the first prototype magnet follows a comprehensive review of each system of NSTX-U by a team of engineers and scientists from PPPL as well as nearly 50 external experts from the United States and around the world.

“For the Laboratory to succeed, we must utilize the talents, creativity and skills of all of the staff,” Hawryluk said. “My job is to enable other people to address the issues facing the Laboratory and to set a firm foundation for the future director.”

Hawryluk and McComas both thanked Brog and Zelick for their leadership during the past several months. “I’m extremely grateful for all the work that Terry and Stacia have done in their respective roles over the last year,” McComas said. Hawryluk also noted that it was his pleasure to work with the NSTX-U team and, in particular, Charlie Neumeyer, Stefan Gerhardt and Jon Menard who “are very dedicated to bringing NSTX-U back on line.”

The new interim director has been at PPPL for most of his career. He came to PPPL in 1974 after receiving a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He headed the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor, then the largest magnetic confinement fusion facility in the United States, from 1991 to 1997. Hawryluk oversaw all research and technical operations as deputy director of the Laboratory for 11 years from 1997 to 2008. He was then head of PPPL’s ITER and Tokamaks Department from 2009 to 2011. From 2011 to 2013, Hawryluk worked at ITER in France, serving as the deputy director-general for the Administration Department of ITER.

In 2013, Hawryluk returned to the Laboratory as head of the ITER and Tokamaks department. He remained in that position until he became head of the Recovery Project last year. Hawryluk has received numerous awards during his career including a Department of Energy Distinguished Associate Award, a Kaul Foundation Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research and Technology, a Fusion Power Award, and an American Physical Society Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physicswith physicists Rob Goldston and James Strachan. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 2008 and of the American Physical Society since 1986, he also chairs the board of editors of Nuclear Fusion, a monthly journal devoted to controlled fusion energy.

Hawryluk and his wife Mary Katherine Hawryluk, a school psychologist working with special needs children at the New Road School in Parlin, New Jersey, met as undergraduates and have been married for 41 years. They have two grown sons: Kevin, who lives in Chicago, and David, who lives in Los Angeles. In his spare time, Hawryluk is an avid reader.

“I’m taking on this task because I really believe in PPPL and its critical role in furthering the field of plasma physics with the goal of developing fusion energy,” Hawryluk said. “I am committed to addressing issues that are central to the long-term success of the Laboratory.”