Rachael McDermott is new director at the MPI for Plasma Physics

April 04, 2023

She and her division investigate the transport phenomena in fusion plasmas and their stability to gain insights for the design and operation of future fusion power plants.

Since February 1, 2023 Rachael McDermott is a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching near Munich.  There, she leads an experimental division that is strongly involved in the operation of ASDEX Upgrade, a fusion experiment based on the tokamak concept. The device provides critical input on the path to a fusion power plant. Her department operates key diagnostics and systems for the interpretation of ASDEX Upgrade plasmas and focuses on understanding the physics of the plasma edge.

Dr. McDermott and her division are well known for investigating turbulent transport in the core and edge of tokamak plasmas, as well for their progress in understanding edge stability. Future work will focus on the characterization of the instabilities (turbulent and magnetohydrodynamic) responsible for the transport of energy, particles, and momentum in this region, to enable validation of theoretical models and reliable prediction of behavior in future devices. Her department will also pursue scenario development, integrating heat and particle exhaust solutions with favorable edge transport, and high confinement in the plasma core.  

About Rachael McDermott

Rachael McDermott grew up in the United States and received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Saint Louis University.  She received her PhD in Plasma Physics and Fusion Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009, with a thesis focusing on the connection between electric fields and improved plasma confinement in the Alcator C-Mod tokamak. After her PhD, Dr. McDermott joined the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics as a post doctoral researcher, developing new diagnostics for the investigation of ASDEX Upgrade plasmas, and focusing on understanding turbulence driven intrinsic rotation observed in ASDEX Upgrade experiments.  In 2013, she took on the leadership of a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group with the topic “Macroscopic Effects of Microturbulence in Fusion Plasmas”, which expanded her scientific interests to include the role of impurities in fusion plasmas. From 2022, she headed the "Active Spectroscopy Group" at IPP.  Dr. McDermott is an active member of the international fusion community, having served in leading roles in the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) and European Transport Taskforce (TTF).


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