Prize Recipient


Masaaki Yamada
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory


"For the experimental investigation of driven magnetic reconnection in a laboratory plasma. In this work, careful diagnostic studies of the current sheet structure, dynamics and associated wave activity provide a compre-hensive picture of the reconnection process."


Dr. Yamada, who is a Distinguished Laboratory Research Fellow at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, is the Head of the MRX research program. He graduated from University of Illinois with Ph. D in Physics in 1973. In that same year he joined PPPL as a postdoctoral fellow. He became the head of the Q-1 research group in 1977 and carried out many basic plasma physics experiments. During 1978-1988, he headed the research effort on the spheromak, then a new concept for fusion, utilizing the S-1 device. Since the early 1990's, Dr. Yamada has pioneered a new experiment, MRX [Magnetic Reconnection Experiment] at Princeton to explore the fundamental physics of magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection is one of the most difficult and fundamental problems in plasma physics and it has been under intense theoretical discussion for many decades. In 1995 the experimental apparatus was constructed and the experiments have yielded many fundamental results, which led to the Excellence in Plasma Physics Award for 2002. Currently the MRX group are focusing their study on fast reconnection in collision free plasmas. His other specialized research fields are micro-turbulence, magnetic fluctuation in plasmas, ion acoustic wave, beam-plasma instability and spheromak stability. He has been the doctoral thesis advisor for a dozen graduate students of Princeton University, the University of Tokyo, and Purdue University. Dr. Yamada has held invited professor positions at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland (1988), Kyoto University, Japan (1989), and the University of Tokyo, Japan (1994). He has been an APS fellow since 1985.

Selection Committee:

Ricardo Betti (Chair), Christina Back (12/02), Richard Groebner ('01 Rcpnt) (12/02), Y.Y. Lau (V Chair) (12/03), K. (Dennis) Papadopoulos (12/03)