Newswise — Stewart Prager, physicist and long-time fusion energy scientist who was director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) from 2009 to 2016, has been honored with a 2017 Distinguished Career Award from Fusion Power Associates (FPA). Prager, a leading contributor to the advancement of plasma physics and fusion science, received the award at the 38th annual meeting of FPA held Dec. 6-7 in Washington, D.C. The association provides students, media and the public with information about the status of fusion development and other applications of plasma science.

The honor for Prager, a professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University, cited his “many years of dedication to advancing the prospects for fusion.” The citation pointed to his “decades of outstanding career contributions as a scientist, educator, manager, and advisor on all aspects of plasma physics, fusion energy and fusion policy.”

Fusion, the power that drives the sun and the stars, is the fusing of light elements that generates massive amounts of energy. Scientists are seeking to replicate fusion on Earth for a virtually inexhaustible supply of power.

Prager was thankful for the FPA award. “Working in fusion has been a remarkable pleasure,” he said, “and I am very pleased to receive this recognition from FPA.”

Prager joined PPPL as its sixth director in 2009 after 31 years as a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There he led research on the Madison Symmetric Torus and headed a center that studied plasmas in both the laboratory and the cosmos. Before arriving at Wisconsin he spent two years as a physicist at the predecessor company to General Atomics.

As director of PPPL, Prager enjoyed “the opportunity to help shepherd and steward along new scientific initiatives in fusion and plasma physics, from astrophysics to low temperature plasmas to the National Spherical Torus Experiment upgrade.” 

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