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Should I go to Europe to do MCF (PhD)

  1. Nov 5, 2014 #1
    So it looks like Alcator C-Mod is going to lose its funding this year again, in addition I have heard that they are going to have to decide whether to shut down either DIII-D or NSTX (can anyone confirm?). There aren't very many schools in the US that do MCF research (The only one I can think of that actually has a solid concentration of academics doing MCF research is Wisconsin...MIT used to be but they all left...other individual profs are sort of scattered about the country)

    I'm american, but I'm currently doing my master's degree in plasma physics/nuclear fusion in the UK and I'm wondering if I should just stay here, or go to another European country since I want to do MHD turbulence theory and simulations. There are so many universities here that have fusion research i.e. Oxford, Liverpool, York, Queen's Belfast in the UK, Max Planck in Germany, EPFL Switzerland, Carlos III and Polytechnic Madrid in Spain, Chalmers/KTH Sweden, Aalto Univ. Finland, a bunch of others I'm probably forgetting.

    I'm going to apply to Wisconsin and MIT, but in case I'm not accepted there, there aren't really very many other options in the US.

    I've read that if you do a Ph.D. in Europe or another country, it can harm your chances of getting a professorship in the US since they don't do graduate courses like we do. Can anyone speak to that one way or another?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2014 #2
    C-mod is likely going to be shut down. I don't know what this means for MIT. They have strong collaborations of many other labs. And they've had time to plan for the shut down. It won't be the end of fusion at MIT, but theres probably going to be some restructuring.

    As for DIII-D and NSTX-U. The recent FESAC strategic planning report to the DOE OFES considered multiple funding scenarios. In some of the less favorable funding scenarios, the report suggests the possibility of closing NSTX-U or DIII-D in 5 years. The report is has been highly controversial from the get-go. The committee wasn't really given enough time considering the magnitude of their charge. There were also a number of conflict of interest issues raised by the report, and 10 of the 19 scientists involved in drafting the report were recused from the final vote. Of the remaining 9 voting scientists, 6 voted in favor of the report and 3 voted against. Many people in the fusion community have been very critical of the report. It sounds like the DOE does not agree with the possibility of closing NSTX-U or DIII-D in the near future.

    If you're interested in a more detailed discussion check out

    The fire website is an archive of information relevant to fusion research. If you want to do fusion research, its a great resource. In particular check out the presentation on the FESAC report and the DOEs response. Both were given the the UFA at the APS meeting last Monday. If you scroll down further you can find a number of public criticisms of the FESAC report.

    Theres nothing wrong with studying in Europe. As far as I know, its not going to interfere with your chances of getting an American professorship or job. But there are a number of US universities to consider. In addition to Wisconsin and MIT, there is Princeton, UT-Austin, Auburn, Washington, Maryland, UCSD, University of Colorado, Utah State, and Columbia. All these universities do magnetic fusion research. I'm probably forgetting a few.

    Also just in case you don't know the acronyms:
    OFES - Office of fusion energy sciences
    FESAC - Fusion energy sciences advisory committee
    UFA - University fusion associates
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