Newswise — Physicist Francesca Poli of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has been appointed an ITER Scientist Fellow. She will join a network of researchers who have achieved international recognition and will work closely with ITER, an international tokamak under construction in France, to develop the scientific program to be carried out during the fusion device’s lifetime.

Poli will facilitate installation of TRANSP, the PPPL-developed computer code that is used throughout the world to analyze and predict fusion experiments. Included in her role will be the design of scenarios for the ITER research plan and the training of young researchers on operation of the code.

“I’m pretty excited,” Poli said of the appointment, which was approved by ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot. “This will allow us to promote TRANSP for ITER and will be good for the Laboratory,” she said. “It will enable us to improve TRANSP by developing new capabilities.”

For ITER, Poli previously coupled a reduced model of neoclassical tearing modes, a type of plasma instability, to the large and complex TRANSP code. She continues to work with the International Tokamak Physics Activity Integrated Operation Scenarios (ITPA-IOS) topical group on the modeling of ITER with TRANSP.

Poli will remain at PPPL during the three-year renewable fellowship, which includes the opportunity for frequent travel to ITER. Among benefits of the fellowship will be a graduate student to assist in research and support for travel expenses for extended visits to work with ITER scientists on-site in Cadarache, France.

Poli, a PPPL physicist since 2010, is an expert in simulating the evolution of tokamak plasma discharges. She applies her expertise to interpreting existing experiments, predicting and designing new experiments, and predicting plasma performance in ITER.

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit