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May 12, 2017

Professorship opens up new research opportunities

Written By: Rachael Andrew

Engineering Physics Professor Carl Sovinec, who is the first recipient of the Thomas and Suzanne Werner Professorship, will use funding from the named professorship to advance his work toward developing nuclear fusion as an environmentally benign source of energy.

Sovinec and his group are working to develop and use computer simulations to model plasma, the state of matter found in fusion-relevant conditions. These simulations describe the plasma dynamics in magnetic confinement experiments being done both around the nation and internationally. Magnetized plasma has many unique properties, and models like Sovinec’s are important tools in predicting how high-energy plasma can act in today’s experiments and tomorrow’s fusion reactors.

Industrial and systems engineering alumnus Tom Werner established the Werner Chair/Professorship with his wife Suzanne in response to an historic $100 million matching gift opportunity made possible through UW-Madison alumni John and Tashia Morgridge.

By supporting the study of magnetized plasma dynamics, this funding will aid in the effort to make magnetic confinement a viable approach to commercial fusion energy.

Sovinec is particularly excited about the opportunities that funding from the professorship will open for his research. “This professorship allows more flexibility in our research, and allows us to explore other connections in engineering,” he says.