Plasma Physics Conference explores synergies

The IOP Plasma Physics Conference held at the start of April 2017 was the 44th in an annual series focusing on all aspects of plasma physics.

Most of the contributions are around magnetic and inertial confinement fusion, laser–plasma interactions, solar and astrophysical plasmas and technological plasmas. These seem like a diverse set of topics, but there are lots of synergies, and I think we gain a lot from seeing what is going on in the other areas.

Although most attendees were from the UK we had a number of people join us from the rest of Europe, and were also lucky to have some people from the US and China at the meeting. It’s really nice to see that what is our national conference is well thought of in the international community.

We held the conference at Worcester College, Oxford in a building that had only just been completed. The college has beautiful gardens and the building provided a very good hub for our meeting. It was a busy three and a half days.

The first session on Monday afternoon included an invited talk by Dr Jason Cole of Imperial College, who was the winner of the Culham Thesis Prize for his PhD, on diagnosis and applications of laser wakefield accelerators, which was well received.

The first poster session was held that evening, and we were able to keep the posters up for the whole meeting, allowing people to discuss their posters with each other outside of the scheduled poster sessions. Tuesday morning’s session included an invited talk from Professor John Collier who gave an overview of the work done at the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. There were some excursions on Tuesday afternoon including a tour of the experiments at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and also tours of the gardens at Worcester College.

We held an outreach session on Tuesday evening, Plasma Science Takes 5, in which 10 of the conference participants gave five-minute outreach talks on their research. We had about 70 members of the public attend and they seemed to enjoy the event. The conference continued on Wednesday with talks and another poster session.

The conference dinner was held in the splendour of the College Dining Room at Worcester College. The final session of the conference included an invited talk from Jonathan Menard of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on innovations for compact tokamak fusion pilot plants. The conference finished at lunch on Thursday. I think everyone found it useful and enjoyable conference – and we’ll look forward to the next one in Belfast in spring 2018.

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Christopher Ham

Christopher Ham

Dr Christopher Ham is a fusion plasma theorist at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and the secretary of the IOP Plasma Physics Group
Christopher Ham

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