Alex Creely, MIT

Alexander Creely

Graduate Student


Alex Creely is a PhD student in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering working at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center.  He is interested in various aspects of magnetically confined fusion energy. Alex's thesis work focuses on detailed measurements of plasma turbulence and comparison to turbulent transport simulations, with the dual goals of better understanding turbulence and using these codes to predict the performance of future experiments. This research has taken him to various fusion experiments around the world, most recently to Munich, Germany and Nagoya, Japan.  Before coming to MIT, Alex completed his Batchelor of Science and Engineering in Mechanical Engineering at Princeton University.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Expected 2019
Doctor of Philosophy Candidate in Nuclear Science and Engineering with a focus on Plasma Fusion

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey,  2014
Bachelor of Science and Engineering with Highest Honors (Summa Cum Laude) in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2012 – 2013
Oxford-Princeton Exchange in Engineering 

Awards and honors

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship, 2016
MIT Charles A. Piper (1935) Presidential Fellow, 2014
Jeffrey O. Kephart ’80 Engineering Physics Award, 2014
Sau-Hai Lam Prize in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 2014
Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, 2012

Honor Societies

Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Awards – 2nd Prize, 2017
Nuclear Science and Engineering Manson Benedict Award, 2017
Alpha Nu Sigma,Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi


MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center, 2014 – Present 
Alcator C-Mod Core Transport Research GroupInvestigated perturbative thermal transport on the Alcator C-Mod and ASDEX Upgrade tokamaks via heat pulses generated by the partial sawteeth.  Constructed Correlation Electron Cyclotron Emission (CECE) diagnostics for C-Mod and ASDEX Upgrade.  Validated gyrokinetic and gyrofluid simulations with GYRO, GENE, and TGLF.

National Institute for Fusion Science, Toki, Gifu Prefecture, Japan, Summer 2016
MIT International Science and Technology Internship (MISTI) Intern
Investigated differences in turbulent density fluctuations measured on the reflectometer, phase contrast imaging (PCI), and charge exchange spectroscopy (CXS) on the Large Helical Device (LHD) stellarator.

Princeton University Senior Thesis, 2013 – 2014
Thermal Desorption from Hydrogen-Carbon Co-Deposition Layers for Fusion Applications
Investigated the prospect of removing hydrogen isotopes from co-deposition layers of carbon via thermal desorption. Utilized a modified quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) setup with GaPO4 crystals.  Confirmed qualitatively that such desorption is possible and merits further research.

General Atomics DIII-D, San Diego, CaliforniaSummer 2013
National Undergraduate Fellowship Intern                        
Analyzed data collected from the Beam Emission Spectroscopy diagnostic on the DIII-D magnetically confined fusion Tokamak.  Used IDL code to study the evolution of turbulence and its effect on plasma containment near the edges of the containment field.

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Summer 2012
Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) Summer Intern
Conducted simulations to investigate the slowing of energetic particles in background plasma with different magnetic fields using the Large Scale Plasma (LSP) Particle in Cell (PIC) code.  Utilized results to determine the differences in plasma heating in Tokamaks and in Field Reverse Configurations.


A. J. Creely, K. Ida, M. Yoshinuma, T. Tokuzawa, T. Tsujimura, T. Akiyama, R. Sakamoto, M. Emoto, K. Tanaka, and C.A. Michael, Novel Analysis Technique for Measuring Edge Density Fluctuation Profiles with Reflectometry in the Large Helical Device, Review of Scientific Instruments 88, 073509 (2017).

A. J. Creely, N. T. Howard, P. Rodriguez-Fernandez, N. Cao, A. E. Hubbard, J. W. Hughes, J. E. Rice, A. E. White, J. Candy and G. M. Staebler, G. D. Conway, S. J. Freethy, and C. Sung, Validation of Nonlinear Gyrokinetic Simulations of L- and I-mode Plasmas on Alcator C-Mod, Physics of Plasmas 24, 056104 (2017).

A. J. Creely, A. E. White, E. M. Edlund, N. T. Howard, and A. E. Hubbard, Perturbative Thermal Diffusivity from Partial Sawtooth Crashes in Alcator C-Mod, Nuclear Fusion 56, 036003 (2016).

S. J. Freethy, T. Görler, A. J. Creely, G. D. Conway, S. S. Denk, T. Happel, C. Koenen, P. Hennequin, A. E. White, and ASDEX Upgrade Team, Validation of gyrokinetic simulations with measurements of electron temperature fluctuations and density-temperature phase angles on ASDEX Upgrade, Physics of Plasmas 25, 055903 (2018).

M. Schmidtmayr, J.W. Hughes, F. Ryter, E. Wolfrum, N. Cao, A.J. Creely, N. Howard, A.E. Hubbard, Y. Lin, M.L. Reinke, J.E. Rice, E.A. Tolman, S. Wukitch, Y. Ma, ASDEX Upgrade Team, and Alcator C-Mod Team, Investigation of the critical edge ion heat flux for L-H transitions in Alcator C-Mod and its dependence on BT, Nuclear Fusion 58, 056003 (2018).

P. Rodriguez-Fernandez, A. E. White, A. J. Creely, M. J. Greenwald, N. T. Howard, F. Sciortino and J. C. Wright, VITALS: A Surrogate-Based Optimization Framework for the Accelerated Validation of Plasma Transport Codes, Fusion Science and Technology (2018).

N. T. Howard, C. Holland, A. E. White, M. Greenwald, P. Rodriguez-Fernandez, J. Candy, and A. J. Creely, Multi-scale gyrokinetic simulations of an Alcator C-Mod, ELM-y H-mode plasma, Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 60, 014034 (2018).

A. E. Hubbard, S. G. Baek, D. Brunner, A. J. Creely, I. Cziegler, E. Edlund, J. W. Hughes, B. LaBombard, Y. Lin, Z. Liu, E. S. Marmar, M. L. Reinke, J. E. Rice, B. Sorbom, C. Sung, J. Terry, C. Theiler, E. A. Tolman, J.R. Walk, A.E. White, D. Whyte, S.M. Wolfe, S. Wukitch, X.Q. Xu and the Alcator C-Mod Team, Physics and performance of the I-mode regime over an expanded operating space on Alcator C-Mod, Nuclear Fusion 57, 126039 (2017).

P. Rodriguez-Fernandez, J.E. Rice, N.M. Cao, A.J. Creely, N.T. Howard, A.E. Hubbard, J.H. Irby, and A.E. White, On the correlation between ‘non-local’ effects and intrinsic rotation reversalsin Alcator C-Mod, Nuclear Fusion 57, 074001 (2017).

N. T. Howard, C. Holland, A. E. White, M. Greenwald, J. Candy, and A. J. Creely, Multi-scale gyrokinetic simulations: Comparison with experiment and implications for predicting turbulence and transport, Physics of Plasmas 23, 056109 (2016).

S. J. Freethy, G. D. Conway, I. Classen, A. J. Creely, T. Happel, A. Köhn, B. Vanovac, and A. E. White, Measurement of turbulent electron temperature fluctuations on the ASDEX Upgrade tokamak using correlated electron cyclotron emission, Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 11E102 (2016).

A. E. White, N. T. Howard, A. J. Creely, M. A. Chilenski, M. Greenwald, A. E. Hubbard, J. W. Hughes, E. Marmar, J. E. Rice, J. M. Sierchio, C. Sung, J. R. Walk, D. G. Whyte, D. R. Mikkelsen, E. M. Edlund, C. Kung, C. Holland, J. Candy, C. C. Petty, M. L. Reinke, and C. Theiler, Nonlinear gyrokinetic simulations of the I-mode high confinement regime and comparisons with experiment, Physics of Plasmas 22, 056109 (2015).


Bridging the simulation vs. reality gap (PSFC)

Alex Creely wins prestigious NDSEG Fellowship​ (NSE News)

Students advancing a future with carbon-free fusion (NSE News)

PSFC Local Outreach Programs Follow Recent National Efforts (PSFC)