After four decades of relentless effort an experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory successfully demonstrated fusion in December 2022. Listen to their long path to this success and what it would take to get energy from a fusion reactor on the US grid, for all of us to use.
Meet the Speakers
The Plenary brings together incredible and diverse speakers to discuss the ground-breaking fusion experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Douglas W. Larson
Doug Larson recently retired as the Director of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). In this role, Doug oversaw the planning and execution of the experimental program on the NIF, the development of new experimental capabilities to meet the needs of an evolving physics program, and the execution of facility maintenance and upgrades. His team was responsible for the laser energy, precision, and diagnostic advances that helped push NIF over the ignition threshold.
Doug has nearly 40 years of experience as an engineer working on aspects of laser and fusion research and development. He began his career as a pulsed power engineer in LLNL’s magnetic and inertial fusion programs including many roles in the construction and operation of the NIF. Doug has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico.
Dr. Tammy Ma is the Lead for the Inertial Fusion Energy Institutional Initiative at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Tammy received her B.S. from Caltech, then her M.S. and Ph.D. from UC San Diego. She is the recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) and currently sits on the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC), providing advice to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC) on complex scientific and technological issues related to fusion energy and plasma research. She was a member of the team achieving fusion ignition in December 2022 at the National Ignition Facility, demonstrating more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it, for the first time in history. Last year, Tammy also chaired the DOE Basic Research Needs Workshop and Report in Inertial Fusion Energy.
Joseph Ralph, experimental physicist, is the inertial confinement fusion lead for laser target coupling at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Since he started at the lab in 2009, he has made significant contributions to indirect-drive inertial confinement fusion symmetry control, stagnation, and instability growth as well as hohlraum physics and laser-plasma interactions. Dr. Ralph has been the lead experimentalist on more than 100 individual experiments at the National Ignition Facility and has led several experimental campaigns including recent campaigns that improve the coupling efficiency. He is a recipient of the 2022 APS Dawson Award in plasma physics for achieving a burning plasma in the laboratory and the 2022 recipient of the Secretary Honor’s award as part of the team that reached a burning plasma. He completed his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008 with a focus on laser wakefield acceleration and ultrashort pulse laser-plasma interactions.