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Project Information

Project Information

A Decadal Assessment of Plasma Science

Project Scope:

As part of the Physics 2020 decadal assessment and outlook for physics, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will conduct a study of the past progress and future promise of plasma science and technology and provide recommendations to balance the objectives of the field in a sustainable and healthy manner over the long term. Specifically, the study committee will:

  1. Engage stakeholders in government, the plasma sciences communities, and industry to collect perspectives on the major achievements and challenges of the past decade and the most exciting and promising areas of plasma research anticipated for the next ten years, as well as how plasma research impacts and is impacted by adjacent areas of science and technology.
  2. Assess the progress and achievements of plasma science over the past decade.
  3. Identify and articulate the major scientific questions and new opportunities that define plasma science as a discipline, noting connections to and the influence on other disciplines.
  4. Discuss the nature and importance of the U.S. role in multi-national plasma research activities.
  5. Assess the scope of international research across the breadth of plasma science and discuss the relative standing of U.S. activities.
  6. Discuss how plasma science has contributed and will likely contribute to U.S. national needs both in and beyond plasma science, including workforce development, economic prosperity, national defense, and other applications.
  7. Assess whether the present plasma science workforce and training opportunities are commensurate with future workforce needs.
  8. Assess and comment on the present role of, and future opportunities for, universities within large national programs organized around major research instruments or community assets (i.e., user facilities, satellites, telescopes, etc.).
  9. Assess whether the structure, program balance, and level of the current U.S. research effort in plasma science across the federal and private efforts are best positioned to realize the science opportunities. 

The study committee’s recommendations should not alter recommendations from the Decadal Strategy for Solar and Space Physics, the mid-decadal assessment of that report, or the ongoing study on Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research.  The committee may make recommendations or offer comments on organizational structure, program balance, and funding, as appropriate, with discussion of the evidentiary bases.

Status: Current


Project Duration (months): 24 month(s)

RSO: Jones, Christopher


Board on Physics and Astronomy


Math, Chemistry, and Physics

Committee Membership

Committee Post Date: 10/02/2018

Mark J. Kushner - (Co-Chair)
MARK J. KUSHNER [NAE] is the George I. Haddad Collegiate Professor in the Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department at the University of Michigan and also holds appointments as a professor in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Science Department, Chemical Engineering Department, and Applied Physics Program. He is also director of the Michigan Institute for Plasma Science and Engineering and the Department of Energy Center on Control of Plasma Kinetics. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan, Dr. Kushner was on faculty at Iowa State University (2005-2008), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1986-2004). He also has industrial and national laboratory experience, serving as a member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (1980-1983), and as Principal Research Scientist at Spectra Technology (1983-1986). Dr. Kushner received his Ph.D in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1979. Dr. Kushner’s research interests are in low temperature plasmas, addressing the fundamental aspects of the generation and transport of charged and chemically reactive species in plasmas, their interactions with surfaces for materials modification, and the development of plasma-based equipment and devices. Much of the impact of such research is in a wide range of society-benefiting technologies. Dr. Kushner has received numerous awards and honors and has served on several National Academies’ studies, including the last plasma science decadal survey.
Gary P. Zank - (Co-Chair)
GARY ZANK [NAS] is the director of the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR), University of Alabama Board of Trustees Trustee Professor and Aerojet/Rocketdyne Chair in Space Science, an Eminent Scholar and distinguished professor, and chair of the Department of Space Science (SPA) at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dr. Zank’s research interests extend across space physics, plasma astrophysics, and plasma physics. Although his research is related primarily to theory, modeling, and simulations, Dr. Zank is involved in numerous experimental and observational programs. Some areas of research include the interaction of the solar wind with the partially ionized interstellar medium. He and colleagues introduced models that include the coupling of the partially ionized interstellar gas with heliospheric plasma, which led to the prediction and subsequent observation of the so-called hydrogen-wall. Dr. Zank received his Ph.D in applied mathematics from the University of Natal in South Africa in 1987. He has been recognized in his field through the receipt of numerous honors and awards throughout his career. In 2017, he was named the University of Alabama Board Of Trustees Trustee Professor, the first and only University of Alabama System faculty member to achieve this position. This appointment was, in part, in recognition of Dr Zank being elected in 2016 as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – the only person in the University of Alabama System to be elected a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He was recognized internationally in 2015 with the AOGS Axford Medal, the highest honor given by the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS). Other awards include his being a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2017, he was also elected an AOGS Honorary Member and was chosen by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) to be the 2017 Johannes Geiss Fellow. One of his publications has been recognized as one of the twelve “classic papers” ever published in the Journal of Plasma Physics. Dr. Zank has served on a number of National Academies’ ad hoc and standing committees.
Amitava Bhattacharjee
AMITAVA BHATTACHARJEE is Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and Head of the Theory Department of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He also serves as co-director of the Princeton Center for Heliophysics. He received his Ph.D. at Princeton University (1981) in theoretical plasma physics from the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. He has taught previously at Columbia University (1984-93) in the Department of Applied Physics, at the University of Iowa (1993-2003) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the University of New Hampshire (2003-12), where he served as Paul Professor of Space Science. At the University of Iowa, he received the James Van Allen Natural Sciences Fellowship (1996), the Faculty Scholar Award (1997-2000), and the Michael J. Brody Award (2003). He has served as senior editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics, as chair of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society, and as founding chair of the Topical Group in Plasma Astrophysics of the American Physical Society, and on various prize and fellowship committees. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union. His research interests include: magnetic reconnection, turbulence and singularity formation, kinetic theory, free-electron lasers, and complex (or dusty) plasmas. He and his students and postdoctoral colleagues have authored about 250 papers with broad applications to laboratory (including fusion), space and astrophysical plasmas.
Peter J. Bruggeman
PETER J. BRUGGEMAN is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the director of the High Temperature and Plasma Laboratory at the University of Minnesota. His primary research interests are in low temperature plasmas including plasma-liquid interactions and non-equilibrium plasma kinetics and chemistry applied to plasma processes for environmental, biomedical and renewable energy technologies. Previously, Dr. Bruggeman was on the faculty of Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands) in the department of Applied Physics. He is a recipient of several awards including the 2012 Hershkowitz Early Career Award, the 2013 International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Young Scientist Medal and Prize in Plasma Physics, the 2016 US Department of Energy Early Career Award and the 2018 Peter Mark Memorial Award of the American Vacuum Society. He earned his PhD from the University of Ghent, Belgium. He serves as section editor for plasmas and plasma-surface interactions of the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics (Institute of Physics Publishing) and as elected member of the board of directors of the International Plasma Chemistry Society.
Troy Carter
TROY CARTER is a Professor of Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prof. Carter is the director of the Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF), a national user facility for plasma science supported by DOE and NSF. He is also the director of the Plasma Science and Technology Institute (PSTI), and organized research unit at UCLA. His research focuses on experimental studies of fundamental processes in magnetized plasmas and is motivated by current issues in magnetic confinement fusion energy research and in space and astrophysical plasmas including magnetic reconnection, turbulence and transport in magnetized plasmas, and the nonlinear physics of Alfvén waves. He was a co-recipient of the 2002 APS Division of Plasma Physics Excellence in Plasma Physics Research Award and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. Prof. Carter received B.S. degrees in physics and nuclear engineering from North Carolina State University in 1995 and a Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University in 2001.
Christine Coverdale
CHRISTINE A. COVERDALE is a plasma physicist at Sandia National Laboratories. Dr. Coverdale joined Sandia in 1997 and in 2011 was named a distinguished member of the technical staff. She has been involved in a broad range of experiments at the Saturn and Z pulsed power facilities centered around nuclear weapons certification and other national security projects. She most recently worked on radiation detection systems and diagnostics to assess warm and hard X-rays from Z-pinch plasmas. Dr. Coverdale has a doctorate in plasma physics from the University of California, Davis, has authored or co-authored more than 120 papers, and regularly presents at conferences. She served three terms on the executive committee of the IEEE Plasma Science and Applications Committee and was technical program chair for the IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2015. She also served a four-year term on the IEEE Nuclear Plasma Sciences Society Administrative Committee. Dr. Coverdale was on the Executive Committee of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Plasma Physics and is senior editor for High Energy Density Physics for IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. She is a fellow of both the IEEE and APS.
Cameron G. Geddes
CAMERON G.R. GEDDES is a senior scientist in the BELLA center of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, focusing on study of laser driven plasma waves and their applications compact particle accelerators and photon sources. He leads a project developing plasma based accelerators as compact sources of near-monochromatic MeV photons for nuclear material detection and characterization. He is involved in related areas such as extending the future reach of high-energy physics as well as radiation sources in the x-ray to THz bands, and in both experiment and computation. Previous positions have spanned a variety of plasma physics disciplines including Thomson scattering measurement of driven waves in inertial confinement fusion laser-plasma interaction at LLNL, wave mixing in Omega laser experiments by Polymath Reseach, and small aspect Tokamak equilibria at the University of Wisconsin. He received the Ph.D. in 2005 at the University of California, Berkeley, supported by the Hertz Fellowship, where he received the Hertz and APS Rosenbluth dissertation awards for demonstration of a laser driven, plasma based electron accelerator producing mono-energetic beams. He received the B.A. degree from Swarthmore College in 1997, and received the APS Apker Award and Swarthmore Elmore Prize for work on Spheromak plasma magnetic equilibria. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society Division on Plasma Physics and a recipient of the Society's Dawson award, and of two LBNL Outstanding Performance awards. Previous community planning exercises have include Frontiers of Plasma Science (2015, FES), Snowmass (2013, HEP), and the HEDLP ReNeW panel (2009).
S. G. Glendinning
S. GAIL GLENDINNING is a technical staff member at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She received her B.A. in experimental physics from Middlebury College in 1973 and her Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from Duke University in 1980. Following post-doctoral work at Duke, she worked for the nuclear fuels division of General Electric in Wilmington, NC and San Jose, CA, designing monitoring systems for low-level radioactive waste. She joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Inertial Confinement Fusion program in 1985. Her work on ICF has focused on the study of hydrodynamic instabilities in planar systems using both direct and hohlraum drive. She is currently continuing research in hydrodynamic instabilities and conducting a series of experiments examining hohlraum drive symmetry.
Dan M. Goebel
DAN M. GOEBEL is a Jet Propulsion Laboratory Fellow and senior research scientist, an adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at USC and an adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering at UCLA. At JPL he is responsible for the development of advanced electric propulsion systems and spacecraft technologies, and is the chief engineer of the NASA Psyche Mission that will launch in 2022. Previously he was a research scientist at HRL Laboratories in Malibu, CA, and Principal Scientist at Hughes/Boeing EDD in Torrance, CA where he was the supervisor of the Advanced Technology Group for microwave tube development and the lead scientist of the XIPS ion thruster program for commercial satellite station keeping. He received a NASA Engineering Achievement Medal in 2011 and a NASA Space Technology Award in 2015 and 2018. He earned his Ph.D. in applied plasma physics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Goebel is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a fellow of the AIAA, fellow of the IEEE, and a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). He is the author of over 130 technical journal papers, 150 conference papers, one book entitled Fundamentals of Electric Propulsion: Ion and Hall Thrusters, and holds 52 patents.
David B. Graves
DAVID B. GRAVES is a professor of chemical engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the College of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley. At UCB, Dr. Graves has been a leading figure in research associated with semiconductor manufacturing applications of low temperature plasma. His research interests include plasma modeling and simulations, plasma-surface interactions dusty plasmas, and novel applications of plasma in biology, agriculture and medicine. He is a fellow of the American Vacuum Society and the Institute of Physics and was the recipient of the Electrochemical Society Young Author Award, the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Tegal Plasma Thinker Award, and the Plasma Prize of the Plasma Science and Technology Division of the AVS. He was named the Lam Research Distinguished Chair in Semiconductor Processing at UC Berkeley for 2011-16. He received the Allis Prize for the Study of Ionized Gases from the American Physical Society in 2014 and the 2017 International Symposium of Dry Processes Nishizawa Award. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota, USA. He acted as co-editor for the Report on Data Needs for Plasma Processing (1995-96). He was co-editor of the Low Temperature Plasma Science Challenges for the Next Decade. (2008) He is currently senior editor of the IEEE Transactions on Radiation and Plasma Medical Science.
Judith T. Karpen
JUDY KARPEN has been a research astrophysicist in the Space Weather Laboratory, Heliophysics Science Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, since July 2008. Her primary research interests include analytical and numerical modeling of dynamic solar and heliospheric phenomena, and applications of plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics to solar and heliospheric activity. Her current research is focused on solar prominences, coronal mass ejections/eruptive flares, coronal/heliospheric jets, and magnetic reconnection. Dr. Karpen has been a Principal or Co-Investigator in research sponsored by NASA’s Heliophysics Theory Program, Heliophysics SR program, Heliophysics Guest Investigator programs, LWS TR&T program, and High Performance Computing and Communications Program. In addition she has served as a Principal or Co-Investigator on numerous grants of computer time under the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization and the NASA High End Computing programs. She became the Chief of the Space Weather Laboratory in May 2012. From October 1980 until September 1982, Dr. Karpen was an NRL-NRC Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Solar Physics Branch, Space Science Division, Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). From October 1982 until September 1984, she was a staff scientist with Berkeley Research Associates, working at the Laboratory for Computational Physics and Fluid Dynamics, NRL. Dr. Karpen was a research physicist in the Solar-Terrestrial Relationships Branch, Space Science Division, NRL, from October 1984 until July 2008. Dr. Karpen is a member of the American Astronomical Society, Solar Physics Division; the International Astronomical Union; and the American Geophysical Union. She has served on numerous NASA, NSF, and NAS advisory/review committees; AAS and AAS/SPD committees and elected positions; and as a reviewer for journals including Astrophysics Journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Nature, and Solar Physics. She served on the NAS/NRC Committee on Solar and Space Physics (1997-2000) and the NAS/NRC Solar-Heliospheric Panel of the Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey(2001-2002).
Edward Thomas, Jr.
EDWARD THOMAS JR. is the Charles W. Barkley Endowed Professor of Physics and the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn University. Prof. Thomas began his research career studying edge particle transport in fusion plasmas. Over the years, his work has become centered in basic plasma physics where his group conducts experimental plasma physics research on dusty (complex) plasmas, magnetized plasmas and plasma diagnostic development – with an emphasis on the particle, wave, and energy transport in low temperature plasmas. Most recently, he has led the development of the Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment (MDPX) device, a superconducting, 4-Tesla, multi-configuration, multi-user research platform for studying plasmas in which the electron, ion, and charged microparticle components are dominated by the presence of the magnetic field. Previously, Prof. Thomas was a faculty member at Fisk University in the Department of Physics. He is an elected member of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) – Commission H and is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the National Society of Black Physicists. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the Auburn University. He has served as a member of numerous advisory committees for the American Physical Society, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Research Council, European Space Agency, and several research centers in the US, Europe and India – including the National Research Council Plasma Science Committee and the Dept. of Energy - Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee.

Committee Membership Roster Comments

Update (10/02/18): Please note that there has been a change in the committee membership with the appointment of all committee members aside from Dr. Zank and Dr. Kushner.

Comment on Provisional Committee Appointments

Viewers may communicate with the National Academies at any time over the project's duration. In addition, formal comments on the provisional appointments to a committee of the National Academies are solicited during the 20-calendar day period following the posting of the membership and, as described below, these comments will be considered before committee membership is finalized. We welcome your comments (Use the Feedback link below).

Please note that the appointments made to this committee are provisional, and changes may be made. No appointment shall be considered final until we have evaluated relevant information bearing on the committee's composition and balance. This information will include the confidential written disclosures to The National Academies by each member-designate concerning potential sources of bias and conflict of interest pertaining to his or her service on the committee; information from discussion of the committee's composition and balance that is conducted in closed session at its first event and again whenever its membership changes; and any public comments that we have received on the membership during the 20-calendar day formal public comment period. If additional members are appointed to this committee, an additional 20-calendar day formal public comment period will be allowed. It is through this process that we determine whether the committee contains the requisite expertise to address its task and whether the points of views of individual members are adequately balanced such that the committee as a whole can address its charge objectively.

You have 4 day(s) remaining after today to provide comments during the formal comment period.



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