Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) Director Robert Goldston GS '77 announced yesterday his decision to step down from his position leading the research facility, which he has held for more than 10 years.
Goldston said he wants to focus on advocating for global warming awareness, conducting domestic research and leading a project on fusion power in France, but intends to maintain close ties to the University.
Goldston's decision to step down puts into motion an international search for his successor. "The goal is to get the best-qualified candidate possible both domestically and abroad," University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt '96 said. "The research community is international. There is a broad fusion community, and it includes people within the United States and abroad."
The search for a new director comes as the University is preparing to compete for the right to continue to manage and operate the lab, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
DOE will be accepting bids for a new management and operations contract for the lab. The current contract will expire on Sept. 30, 2008.
Under Goldston's leadership, the PPPL completed construction of the National Spherical Torus Experiment on budget and ahead of schedule. In addition, he decommissioned the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor, played a leading role in the construction of the National Compact Stellarator Experiment fusion plasma confinement facility and introduced parallel computing to the lab's theoretical department.
Former PPPL assistant director Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), who left the lab after being elected to Congress, said in an email that Goldston is "a good clear thinker — both scientifically and politically — and a clear communicator and an inspiring leader of scientists."
Goldston hopes to advocate for shortand longterm solutions to global climate change. "Both have been neglected," he said. "The emphasis seems to be on the nearer term. We also need to the focus on long term energy solutions."
He will also continue work on the international ITER Project on fusion power. "I have the responsibility for a big new project in ITER in France," he said. "It's an amazing project. For the first time it will make 10 times more power than we put in. It will make 500 million watts of heat from fusion for a period of about an hour."
Though he will no longer be director of PPPL, Goldston plans to continue working there and to return to teaching in the astrophysics department. "Sometimes you actually learn something from these kids," he said. "Some of my students have become leaders in the fusion program. It's nice to see these kids make it."
Luc Peterson, a second year grad student in the Plasma Physics Instruction Department, said Goldston is "very good at connecting with people. He'll ... sit down and have a chat. He's always eager to know what's going on and how our studies are going."
Goldston said there was a need to strengthen domestic physics research and that he hopes that the PPPL will continue to integrate into other areas of Princeton's academic life.
"Princeton is a research institution. Largely owing to Dr. Goldston there has been collaboration between the lab and the academic departments," Cliatt said.
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.