‘Rising star’ to head UK’s nuclear fusion programme

Utility Week Tom Grimwood | 03/08/2016

Ian Chapman has been appointed by the government as the new chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

The 34-year-old ‘rising star’ will take over from Steve Crowley at the beginning of October.

Chapman will head up Britain’s nuclear fusion research programme at the Culham Science Centre near Oxford. An upgraded version of the centre’s Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) experiment is due to launch next year.

He will also be in charge of the Joint European Torus (JET) facility at the site – the world’s largest fusion research facility and one of the antecedents to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently being built in the south of France.
Chapman joined the centre in 2004 whilst midway through a PhD at Imperial College London. After taking various smaller roles, he rose to become the head of Tokamak science at the centre in 2014 and the manager of the fusion programme the following year.

He said: “Whilst I am young, I am also experienced. I hope my profile means that fusion, and its huge potential to give the world cleaner energy, will get noticed.

“Furthermore, I hope my appointment will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to make a success of ITER, the international fusion project which in my opinion is the most important experiment mankind has ever done.”

His predecessor, Steve Crowley said: “Ian has risen quickly for good reason: he is a world-class scientist, a thoughtful manager, and a strategic thinker of the first order – astonishing in one so young. Culham is a precious UK asset and I am pleased that it will be in such good hands.”