General Atomics Researcher Named Fellow of the American Physical Society

Richard Buttery recognized as a pioneering contributor in understanding of fusion plasmas

Dr. Richard Buttery
Dr. Richard Buttery, Director of Experimental Science for the DIII-D National Fusion Facility

San Diego, October 23 – General Atomics (GA) researcher Dr. Richard Buttery has been selected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) for his contributions to the understanding of fusion plasmas. Buttery is the Director of Experimental Science for the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. This Fellowship was conferred on him at the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics (APS-DPP) meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

According to the APS, Buttery was selected “for pioneering contributions to the understanding of magnetohydrodynamics stability in tokamak plasmas, including the physics of tearing modes and magnetic field errors, and for outstanding scientific leadership of national and international fusion research.”

Buttery, a native of the United Kingdom, came to the U.S. in 2009 after 16 years with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, where among other initiatives he worked on their MAST facility and as a Task Force Leader on the Joint European Torus (JET). In the U.S. he has led the DIII-D scientific team for seven years and contributed to U.S. community efforts as a member of the APS-DPP Executive Committee and U.S. Burning Plasma Organization Council.

His work in the field has contributed substantially to the understanding of tokamak stability and preparation for operating regimes on the ITER experiment under construction in France. As part of these efforts, Buttery’s research explored the sensitivity of plasmas to imperfections in magnetic field symmetry. In so doing, he developed projections for the field symmetry and associated correction coils that will be required for ITER operation, while more recently developing innovative reactor design concepts.

“Richard has been a key member of the DIII-D team for many years, and the program has greatly benefited from his leadership and innovations,” said GA Energy Group Senior Vice President Jeff Quintenz. “This is a well-deserved honor.”

The APS Fellow Program was created to recognize society members who have made advances in physics through original research and publication or significant innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology. Election as an APS Fellow is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers. Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the Society membership is recognized for election. Buttery, a dual U.S.-UK citizen, is also a fellow of the UK Institute of Physics, making him a rare “dual fellow.”

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.

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

For more information contact: 
Zabrina Johal 


Go Back