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Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Honors & awards 2015


Woller receives SOFE Best Student Paper Award

Hans Rinderknecht

PSFC graduate students were two of the three finalists for the SOFE Best Student Paper award. (From left to right)  Brandon Sorbom (PSFC, MIT), Emily Clarke (U. of Tenn., Knoxville), and Kevin Woller (PSFC, MIT) were finalists for the SOFE Best Student Paper award.  Photo/Dr. Martin Nieto-Pérez, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Mexico

NSE Graduate student, Kevin Woller, was awarded a “Best Student Paper” award by the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society during the 2015 Symposium on Fusion Engineering (SOFE) in June.  The purpose of these awards is to recognize outstanding student papers in the field of fusion technology. His paper, “In Situ Elastic Recoil Detection Analysis of Tungsten Surfaces during ITER-like Helium Irradiation,” is based mainly on research he has done at the PSFC in the Plasma Surface Interactions (PSI) Science Center, specifically in the DIONISOS lab. Joining him as a finalist for this award was PSFC graduate student Brandon Sorbom for his paper, "The Engineering Design of ARC: A Compact, High Field, Fusion Nuclear Science Facility and Demonstration Power Plant."





Berkowitz and Rosati Receive Infinite Mile Award


The PSFC's Lee Berkowitz (left) and Ron Rosati (right) have received 2015 Infinite Mile Awards.


The PSFC's Lee Berkowitz and Ronald Rosati have received Infinite Mile Awards from the Offices of the Provost and the Vice President for Research, and the Dean of Graduate Education.

The Infinite Mile Award recognizes those individuals who have made extraordinary contributions within their own organizations to help ensure that the Institute carries out its mission, i.e., to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

In an awards ceremony held on May 28, IT & Network Manager Lee Berkowitz was recognized for his invaluable service to the PSFC with the following comments: 

“In addition to vital infrastructure support - which is his primary and most technically challenging responsibility -he has gone out of his way to become an expert in every end-user application. He is thus an invaluable resource in PSFC’s heterogeneous environment, which has a wide variety of platforms, needs, and expertise levels. Lee works whatever long hours are needed in order to keep the systems up and running, and will interrupt whatever he is doing to provide help. His attention to detail is extraordinary and his knowledge of desktop computing is broad and deep. Lee was instrumental in developing a strategy to avoid network disruptions that were common at the time of his arrival to PSFC. His solution provides much greater flexibility and stability and a significant saving in hardware and software costs.  Always willing to pitch in to help his colleagues, Lee ‘never gets flustered or upset…No small feat when you realize that dozens of people may be metaphorically or literally looking over his shoulder as he works on the problem.’ In his long list of projects, Lee brings expertise, tenaciousness, and good spirits to the table.”

Project Technician Ronald Rosati was equally praised, with the following words:


“Along with his technical expertise, Ronald Rosati is highly regarded by everyone at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center for being hardworking, kind, reliable, and extremely generous in using his time and talent to help others.  He has proven that he has the ability to simultaneously juggle several tasks on the project while unfailingly helping others with theirs.  He has become the go-to person for the lab when any of a myriad of vacuum related systems needs attention.  Ron inspires others with his talent, his knowledge across many skill sets, his strong work ethic, and his pride in a job well done.

“Ron has been an enormous help to the engineering group in the testing of the heaters for the proposed new Hot Divertor experiment. His expertise in making custom thermocouples for the various designs has enabled accurate measurements for the engineers to model.  Ron is invaluable in the fabrication, operation, and maintenance of vacuum systems and in-vessel components.  Ron is extremely helpful to graduate students, scientists, and engineers, and his contributions to the operation of the Alcator C-Mod Project are numerous.”




Rinderknecht and Zylstra Receive Prestigious Lawrence Award

Hans Rinderknecht
Hans Rinderknecht accepts his award from Don Lamb (Chair, NIF User Group) and Carolyn Kurantz (Chair, JLF User Group).

When MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) graduate students Hans Rinderknecht and Alex Zylstra applied for a prestigious Lawrence Postdoctoral Fellowship, they knew they were competing with each other, and over 200 other outstanding applicants. Because Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) awards only 2-4 fellowships per year, the chances of winning were slim; the chances of both winning seemed almost impossible. But the student colleagues, members of the MIT Physics Department who both work in the PSFC’s High-Energy-Density (HEDP) division, were thrilled to learn they had each received the award. The 3-year fellowship, named after Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who received the Nobel Prize in 1939 for inventing the cyclotron, is given to candidates who have exceptional talent, scientific track records, and potential for significant achievements.  The Lawrence fellowship is given out to a wide range of disciplines in the physical and biological sciences. 


HEDP division head Richard Petrasso noted, “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time two students from MIT have concurrently been selected for this fellowship.  I confess that it took my breath away when I learned that both Hans and Alex were awardees.  So difficult for one, almost unheard for two!”  Adds PSFC director Dennis Whyte, “These awards to Hans and Alex are a testament to the outstanding science education efforts at the multi-departmental PSFC, and to the combined excellence of the HEDP research staff and students, who are producing impactful results on the national stage.”


The success of Rinderknecht and Zylstra has been reported by MIT News and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Alex Zylstra
Alex Zylstra holds one of the proton spectrometers that he used on the National Ignition Facility.













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