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Elizabeth Paul

Assistant Professor

200 S.W. Mudd, MC4701
New York, NY 10027


Research Interests

Plasma physics; theory of the magnetic confinement of plasmas; fusion energy science; PDE-constrained optimization; shape optimization

Dr. Elizabeth Paul uses theoretical and computational methods to study the magnetic confinement of plasmas for fusion energy sciences. Controlled fusion holds promise of providing a carbon-neutral, safe, and sustainable energy source. Her work focuses on the advancement of the stellarator magnetic confinement concept, a complex toroidal device which enjoys enhanced stability properties.

Dr. Paul’s research integrates applied mathematical techniques to improve the design of stellarator configurations through numerical optimization. She studies the rich behavior present in three-dimensional magnetic confinement devices, including the nonlinear dynamics of fast particle populations.

Dr. Paul received her A. B. in Astrophysical Sciences with concentrations in Applied and Computational Mathematics and Applications of Computing from Princeton University in 2015. In 2020 she received her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2021 Dr. Paul received the Marshall N. Rosenbluth Award from the American Physical Society in recognition of her doctoral work, “For pioneering the development of adjoint methods and application of shape calculus for fusion plasmas, enabling a new derivative-based method of stellarator design.” Prior to joining Columbia University, Dr. Paul was a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University.

Professional Experience

  • Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2020-2022

Professional Affiliations

  • American Physical Society, Division of Plasma Physics

Honors & Awards

  • Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award, American Physical Society, 2021
  • ARCS Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 2019

Select Publications

  • E. J. Paul, S. R. Hudson, and P. Helander, “Heat conduction in an irregular magnetic field: Part II. Heat transport as a measure of the effective non-integrable volume,” Journal of Plasma Physics 88, 905880107 (2022).
  • M. Landreman and E. J. Paul, “Magnetic fields with precise quasisymmetry,” Physical Review Letters 128, 035001 (2022).
  • E. J. Paul, M. Landreman, and T. M. Antonsen, “Gradient-based optimization of 3D MHD equilibria,” Journal of Plasma Physics 87, 905870214 (2021).
  • E. J. Paul, I. G. Abel, M. Landreman, and W. Dorland, “An adjoint method for neoclassical stellarator optimization,” Journal of Plasma Physics 85, 795850501 (2019).
  • E. J. Paul, M. Landreman, F. M. Poli, D. A. Spong, H. M. Smith, and W. Dorland, “Rotation and neoclassical ripple transport in ITER,” Nuclear Fusion 57, 116044 (2017).


Elizabeth Paul
Assistant Professor