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56th Culham Plasma Physics Summer School

Supported by FuseNet, Maximilian Ayling, Henrik Jaerleblad and Aleksandar Opancar attended the 56th annual edition of the Culham Plasma Physics Summer School. The school aims at a fundamental description of plasma physics, while also showing the broadness of plasmas' field of application. Maximilian, Henrik and Aleksandar ended up learning some cutting-edge physics while making life-long friends in the process!


Maximilian Ayling

I am a student at the University of St. Andrews, studying for an integrated master’s degree in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. Before attending the 56th annual Culham Plasma Physics Summer School I had no formal plasma physics education. This was not a problem however; over the two-week event an extensive introduction into the fundamental principles of plasma physics was provided, as well as some compressed lectures delving the many application fields within plasma physics. I was impressed at how good an introduction I was given, considering the summer school is only two weeks long.

The summer school was not only good for those just starting out plasma physics. There were 28 lecturers from all over the world who were all experts in their fields, all of whom were more than happy to have a chat after lectures. Also, the summer school provided tours to visit the JET tokamak in Culham, as well as RAL and MAST-U. It was a privilege to be getting such a hands-on experience with such cutting-edge technology. Seeing the theory discussed in lectures in practice was invaluable.

By far the best part of the School was the people. 68 people from 17 countries attended. Around 50 of those stayed in the accommodation offered as part of the school, which this year was in the William R. Miller Building(St. Edmund Hall) in Oxford. I recommend staying in the accommodation offered. I was accepted into the friendly fusion community with open arms; I have made lifelong friendships from my two weeks here.

Also, the accommodation is great value for money – my room was an en-suite, and there is a kitchen in each block of rooms which had the necessary provisions. There was also a large canteen for lunch and a café to buy anything you need between lectures in CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy) to fuel your physics!

A big thank you to all those involved in organising the event, Andrew Wise, Micheal Fitzgerald, Joanne Flanagan and many more, for keeping things running smoothly even with one of the hottest two weeks in July the UK has ever seen!


Henrik Jaerleblad

My time at the Culham Plasma Physics Summer School (CPPSS) was amazing and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone considering attending. The first week was more (basic) theory focused and I liked that the whole schedule was pedagogically well thought-through: start with the history of fusion then continue with single particle motion and subsequentially move onto more and more complex topics. The lectures build on each other. The second week was full of excursions with visits to both JET, MAST-U and RAL, all of which were well-organised I think.

The welcome dinner and banquet at St Edmund Hall were great and I appreciated getting a glimpse of the world of Oxford colleges (on that note: thank you, Thomas!). There was a mixup with my vegetarian food at the welcome dinner so at first it looked like a was going to get the regular dish. However, the matter was quickly sorted and I ended up enjoying a nice vegetarian meal for the evening after all. If you’re vegan/ vegetarian, CPPSS has got you covered (note: the pubs in Oxford has got you covered as well!).

Overall, the lecturers at CPPSS were great I think! In addition, the problem sessions added to my learning as well and together with the excursions, the dinner, the banquet and the rapturing boat trip, my time at Culham ended up becoming a truly memorable and awesome experience.

Shout-out to Björn, Shira, Michael, Lucas, Philipp and Benjamin. You are simply the best! Also, many thanks to everyone at the summer school, organisers and students alike. Hope to see you again! Let’s deliver the future of sustainable energy together!