Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory names Distinguished Research and Engineering Fellows

December 20, 2002

Plainsboro, New Jersey - John Krommes and Robert Parsells, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), are this year's PPPL Distinguished Research and Engineering Fellows, respectively. Earlier this month, the two were honored during a ceremony and reception at the Laboratory.

PPPL recognized Krommes, a physicist, for his pioneering and creative research on the modern theory of plasma turbulence and for outstanding pedagogical contributions to Princeton University's Graduate Program in Plasma Physics. Plasma is a hot, ionized gas used as the fuel for the production of fusion energy. Turbulence in a plasma disrupts the fusion reaction.

Parsells, an engineer, was cited for his extraordinary ingenuity in the solution of practical engineering problems, including the adaptation of diamond wire cutting technology for the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor Decommissioning and Decontamination (TFTR D&D) Project.


Krommes graduated summa cum laude from Pennsylvania State University in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in engineering science and received a Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University in 1975. Before joining the staff at PPPL in 1977, he was a visiting member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Krommes is a principal research physicist at PPPL and a lecturer with the rank of professor at Princeton University in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, and an associated faculty member at the University's Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the author of more than 70 publications in scientific journals. Krommes is a resident of Hopewell Township. PPPL Director Rob Goldston said, "Krommes is a national and world leader in the fundamental understanding of turbulent phenomena, an area of research of critical importance for fusion energy and for the understanding of a broad range of phenomena in nature. He is a greatly loved teacher, and a mainstay of our educational program."


Parsells received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Before joining PPPL in 1982, he worked in the chemical process industry and later established an engineering consulting company, where he provided services to corporate research departments. Parsells has 20 years of experience in plasma and fusion engineering and process engineering at PPPL, where he has been involved in the design, testing, and fabrication of various diagnostics and components used in fusion and plasma-related research. He was a major contributor to the design and implementation of the diamond wire cutting technology for the TFTR D&D Project. PPPL won the "Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award" from the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers for developing this technology. Parsells is a resident of Princeton Borough. "Bob Parsells cleverly adapted the technique of diamond wire cutting to our application - and thereby greatly broadened the potential scope of this 'hands-off' technique for disassembling large components. This technique may see wide application outside of fusion applications," said Goldston.

The Distinguished Research and Engineering Fellow Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, was created to recognize members of the Laboratory's research staff, as well as engineering and scientific staff, for their accomplishments. Fellows receive one-time gifts of $5,000 and qualify for priority in regard to their research and engineering programs.

PPPL, which is funded by the Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University, is a collaborative national center for science and innovation leading to an attractive fusion energy source. Fusion is the process that powers the sun and the stars. In the interior of stars, matter is converted into energy by the fusion, or joining, of the nuclei of light atoms to form heavier elements.

DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

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