General Atomics Researcher Honored for Fusion Engineering

General Atomics Researcher Honored for Fusion Engineering

David Pace recognized as a leading contributor in development of fusion diagnostics

David Pace stands just above the Gamma Ray Imager
David Pace stands just above the Gamma Ray Imager, a project he led to measure radiation generated by relativistic electrons in DIII-D.

San Diego, December 3, 2019 – Dr. David Pace has been selected by the Fusion Power Associates (FPA) Board of Directors to receive its Excellence in Fusion Engineering Award for his leadership within the fusion research community and his work developing fusion diagnostics at multiple international facilities. He presently serves as the Diagnostic Systems Coordinator at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, operated by General Atomics in San Diego.

Pace was recognized by FPA "for his extremely varied accomplishments and demonstrated leadership skills. His contributions have impacted fusion efforts at MIT, General Atomics and throughout the world. The Board especially notes his unique contributions to diagnostics that have improved understanding and performance in tokamaks.”

“David has truly distinguished himself since he joined us eight years ago,” said DIII-D Director David Hill. “One of the things that impresses me about him is his ability to see the big picture. He’s not afraid to take a completely different path and develop new systems if the situation requires it.”

Pace was drawn to diagnostics because of its hands-on nature and broad applicability to many areas of research. Modern fusion research requires measurement of radiation, particles, and electromagnetic fields across a wide range of time and spatial scales. Advances in diagnostic capability serve multiple areas of the field, Pace notes.

Pace said he was humbled by the honor and attributed his success to the series of mentors with whom he has worked. He was convinced to pursue fusion research after an undergraduate summer internship at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory impressed him with fusion’s potential to change how the world generates energy. His graduate studies in plasma physics at the University of California, Los Angeles introduced him to the wider community of fusion research.

“Fusion is sustainability in the extreme,” Pace said. “Outside of science fiction, fusion is the best we can do as an energy source. It represents literally millions of years of energy, even when you account for population growth. Just from a human security standpoint, how could you not want to pursue something like that?”

DIII-D is the largest magnetic fusion research facility in the U.S. and is operated as a national user facility by General Atomics for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Researchers come to DIII-D from across the globe to explore a wide range of topics from fundamental plasma science to how future fusion power plants will work.

The FPA Excellence in Fusion Engineering Awards have been given annually since 1987, in memory of MIT Professor David J. Rose, to recognize persons in the relatively early part of their careers who have shown both technical accomplishment and potential to become exceptionally influential leaders in the fusion field.

About General Atomics: General Atomics pioneers technologies with the potential to change the world. Since the dawn of the atomic age, GA’s innovations have advanced the state of the art across the full spectrum of science and technology – from nuclear energy and defense to medicine and high-performance computing. Behind a talented global team of scientists, engineers, and professionals, GA delivers safe, sustainable, and economical solutions to meet growing global demands.

About the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. DIII-D is the largest magnetic fusion research facility in the U.S. and has been the site of numerous pioneering contributions to the development of fusion energy science. DIII-D continues the drive toward practical fusion energy with critical research conducted in collaboration with more than 600 scientists representing over 100 institutions worldwide. For more information, visit

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Zabrina Johal