61st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics
October 21-25, 2019 • Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Mini-Conference Organizers and Brief Description

15.1 The Future of the Field: Dissertation Talks
Organizers: Elizabeth Merritt (LANL), Magnus Haw (NASA Ames), Eve Stenson (Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Germany) (Concerns of Junior Scientists Committee)

Description: The goal of this mini-conference is to allow graduate students near completion or new graduates (within ~ 1 year of completing PhD) to showcase their PhD work. Completed dissertation work is often more comprehensive than can be easily fit into a 12-minute contributed oral. Thus, graduate students often apply for invited talks in the final year of their degree. Unfortunately, the number of invited talks is limited, and students are competing with the wider community. We propose that the dissertation talk mini-conference allow students a chance to give a longer talk (20 minute slots) to more comprehensively present their work without needing to compete with established scientists.

We are modeling this mini-conference after a program already in place at the American Astronomical Society annual meeting, which has a Dissertation Oral as one of its basic presentation categories. We propose a mini-conference this year as a pilot test of adding a similar capability to the DPP meeting. If successful, future DPP meetings may expand the mini-conference or incorporate the capability into the wider program.

The mini-conference will also serve as a resource for employment for the students and potential employers. Dissertation talk sessions will make it easier for employers to identify potential recruits near graduation and make it easier for students to showcase their work to recruiters outside their immediate network. Increasing student visibility to the wider community may help negate networking imbalance, where students from larger university programs often have an advantage in job hunting due to more established alumni connections. Increasing student visibility might also foster more cross-specialty recruiting connections. For this reason, we propose that the mini-conference would be scheduled early in the week so that prospective employers would have the ability to contact and meet with a student post-talk.

Due to the current abstract submission schedule, we do not anticipate any conflict between students being awarded an invited talk and applying for a dissertation talk in the mini-conference. Invited talk awards are decided before the regular abstract submission, which includes mini-conference abstracts. So, any student awarded an invited talk would have no reason to apply to the mini-conference and would only be eligible for one talk.

15.2 Building the Bridge to Exascale Computing: Applications and Opportunities for Plasma Science
Organizers: Jack C. Wells (ORNL), Amitava Bhattacharjee (PPPL), Renata Wentzcovitch (Columbia U.)

Description: High Performance Computing (HPC) plays a critical role in modern scientific discovery through a convergence of simulation, modeling and data analysis. HPC facilities around the world, are preparing to field exascale HPC systems, capable of performing more than 1018 floating-point operations per second (64-bit floating-point precision), in the next several years. And, for some data-analysis applications where less precision is required, sustain exaflop applications have already been reported (16-bit floating-point precision). The U.S. National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) was created in 2015 and is currently underway with the goal of accelerating delivery of capable exascale computing systems, and projects are underway to deliver beginning in 2021 exascale systems to the Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratories at Argonne, Oak Ridge, and Livermore. The advent of exascale computing brings with it both tremendous opportunity for scientific discovery as well as challenges for harnessing this technology in scientific applications. To address each of these, DOE’s Exascale Computing Project is under full steam now to produce the hardened, production-scale software technologies and applications that will emerge on the time scale of DOE’s exascale machines.

Representing a joint initiative of DCOMP and DPP, this mini-conference will bring together researchers with expertise in computational plasma physics, data analysis, and the use of national-scale data infrastructure to achieve breakthrough scientific results in plasma physics and associated applications, e.g, fusion-energy science, laboratory astrophysics, and space physics. This includes researchers at experimental facilities with extreme data-science requirements, including machine-learning approaches, and researchers in computational plasma physics with experience in large-scale simulations. Software-development projects preparing a variety of physics applications for exascale-class machines will also be presented.

This mini-conference will be jointly sponsored by APS Division of Plasma Physics and Division of Computational Physics. There is a desire to have a poster session based on the number of contributed abstracts received.

15.3 Turbulence, Reconnection, Shocks, and Particle Acceleration in Collisionless Laboratory, Space, and Astrophysical Plasmas
Organizers: S. Boldyrev (University of Wisconsin), M. Lyutikov (Purdue University), M. Medvedev (University of Kansas), Nikolai Pogorelov (University of Alabama-Huntsville), D. Uzdensky (University of Colorado) and Ming Zhang (Florida Institute of Technology)

Description: Collisionless magnetic reconnection, turbulence, and shocks are the most fundamental and ubiquitous nonlinear processes in astrophysical and space plasmas. They are often intertwined with each other in inextricable but nontrivial ways, and all three have been proposed as leading candidates for driving nonthermal particle acceleration, which can power spectacular high-energy flares in numerous astrophysical sources. Fast particles may, in turn, affect the systems by driving instabilities and turbulence. The proposed mini-conference will bring together experts from plasma astrophysics, space, solar, and laboratory plasma physics communities for a mutually beneficial and fruitful exchange of ideas about turbulence, reconnection, and shocks, their interaction with each other, and the ways they energize and accelerate particles in space and astrophysical plasmas.

15.4 Nonequilibrium Transport, Interfaces, and Mixing in Plasmas
Organizers: Snezhana Abarzhi (University of Western Australiz), Amatava Bhattacharjee (PPPL), Walter Gekelman (UC, Los Angeles)

Description: Non-equilibrium Transport, Interfaces and Mixing play an important role in plasmas in high and low energy density regimes, at astrophysical and at atomic scales, in nature and technology. Examples include the instabilities and interfacial mixing in supernovae and in inertial confinement fusion, particle-field interactions in magnetic fusion and in imploding Z-pinches, downdrafts in stellar interior and in planetary magneto-convection, magnetic flux ropes and structures in the Solar corona and plasma instabilities in the Earth ionosphere, plasma thrusters and nano-fabrication.

In some of these environments (such as stellar interiors and plasma thrusters) non-equilibrium dynamics and interfacial mixing should be enhanced; in some others (for instance, in fusion and nano-fabrication), they should be mitigated and tightly controlled. In all these circumstances, however, one needs to achieve a better understanding of fundamentals of non-equilibrium transport, interfaces and mixing in plasmas.

Non-equilibrium processes are exceedingly challenging to study. They usually involve sharp changes of the flow fields, high pressures and accelerations, strong magnetic fields and coupled particles and fields. They are inhomogeneous (i.e., the flow fields are essentially non-uniform, even in statistical sense, and may involve fronts), anisotropic (i.e., their dynamics depends on the directions), non-local (i.e., plasma flows may include contributions from all the scales and sense initial and boundary conditions), and statistically unsteady (i.e., mean values of the quantities vary with time, and there are also time-dependent fluctuations around these means). Their properties often strongly deviate from those prescribed by standard scenarios at macroscopic scales and at kinetic scales.

Despite these challenges, significant success has been recently achieved in theoretical analysis (for instance, new approaches for handling multi-scale, non-local and statistically unsteady transport, new fluid instabilities and new mechanisms for energy transport in unstable plasma flows), in large-scale numerical simulations (including Lagrangian and Eulerian methods), in experiments (for instance, in fusion facilities and in laboratory plasmas devices, including possibilities for large dynamic range, high precision, high accuracy, and high data acquisition rate). This opens new opportunities for the studies of fundamental properties of non-equilibrium dynamics and interfacial mixing at astrophysical and at kinetic scales.

This mini-conference will provide the opportunity to bring together scientists from different areas of plasma physics, including astrophysical, laboratory and fusion plasmas, as well as key experts in fluid dynamics, material science and applied mathematics. It will be structured to encourage participants’ communications with experts from various fields, to promote the exchange of ideas, and to motivate the discussions of rigorous theoretical approaches and state-of-the-art numerical simulations along with advanced experimental techniques and technological applications.

Participants will include leading experts and researchers at experienced and early stages of their carriers from academia and national laboratories, and graduate students, from national and international scientific communities.