Michael E. Mauel


212 S.W. Mudd
Mail Code 4701

Tel(212) 854-4455
Fax(212) 854-8257

Michael E. Mauel builds experiments to study high-temperature ionized gas, called plasma, and explores how strong magnetic fields guide plasma motion in the space surrounding Earth, at the surfaces of stars, and inside the cores of fusion energy reactors that may someday produce cleaner, healthier, and nearly unlimited power. 

Research Interests

Controlling high-temperature matter in the laboratory, understanding the behavior of magnetized plasma to predict space weather, and achieving cost-effective fusion power for a cleaner and healthier climate.

Other Interests

Energy policy National Security

Plasma within these experiments have very high temperatures, more than 10 million degrees, and can become hotter than the centers of stars. Together with his students and collaborators, Mauel uses real-time systems to control how plasma mixes within the containment vessels, shapes magnetic bottles to better confine high pressure plasma, and launches electromagnetic waves to generate electrons that move through the plasma at speeds near the speed of light. He also identifies, images, and controls the instabilities that may destroy plasma confinement and inhibit fusion energy production.

Mauel’s current research interests include nonlinear turbulent transport in magnetized plasma, energetic particle modes, the relationship between laboratory and space plasma physics, and feedback techniques to control instabilities in advanced tokamak operating regimes. He injects currents, waves, and magnetic fields to reveal the processes that transform energy within the plasma, move particles across magnetic flux tubes, and generate flows.

Mauel received his doctorate from MIT in 1983 and joined the Columbia University faculty in 1985. He a fellow for the American Physical Society and served as a Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State. He received the Rose Award for Excellence in Fusion Engineering, Leadership Award from the Fusion Power Associates, the Teacher of the Year award from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Certificates of Appreciation from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of State. He served as chair of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society, chair of the Department of Applied Physics an Applied Math at Columbia University, chair of the U.S. Burning Plasma Council, and as chair of the NRC Plasma Science Committee. Mauel co-chaired the National Academics of Sciences Committee for a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research (2019) and currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Physics of Plasmas. In 2020, Mauel was named a lifetime Associate of the U.S. National Academies.


  • Research Scientist, Plasma Fusion Center, M. I. T., October 1982 – July 1985
  • Visiting Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999 to present
  • Visiting Scientist, General Atomics, San, Diego, July 1994 – December 1994


  • Professor, Applied Physics, Columbia University, 1995 –
  • Editor-in-Chief, Physics of Plasmas, 2016 –
  • Chairman, Dept. of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, 2000-2006
  • Associate Editor, Physics of Plasmas, 2003-2015
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Fusion Energy, 2014-2015
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Applied Physics, Columbia University, 1990 – 1995
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Applied Physics, Columbia University, 1985 – 1990
  • Instructor, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, M. I. T., 1984 – 1984


  • American Physical Society


  • Jefferson Science Fellow, National Academies, U.S. Dept. of State, 2006-2007
  • Certificate of Appreciation, U.S. Dept. of State, 2007
  • Rose Award for Excellence in Fusion Engineering, Fusion Power Associates, 2000
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 1995
  • Teacher of the Year, 1994, elected by Columbia’s School of Engineering Undergraduates
  • Certificate of Appreciation, U.S. Dept. of Energy, 1989
  • I.E.E.E. Fortesque Fellowship, 1978 – 1979
  • Guillemin Prize for undergraduate thesis in Electrical Engineering


  • High Beta Tokamak Research, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Controlling Turbulent Mixing in the Laboratory Magnetosphere, National Science Foundation


  • “Turbulent fluctuations during pellet injection into a dipole confined plasma torus,” D. T. Garnier, M. E. Mauel, T. M. Roberts, J. Kesner, P. P. Woskov, Physics of Plasmas, 24, 012506 (2017).
  • “Improved feedback control of wall stabilized kink modes with different plasma-wall couplings and mode rotation,” Peng, Q, Levesque, JP, Stoafer, CC, Bialek, J, Byrne, P, Hughes, PE, Mauel, ME, Navratil, GA, Rhodes, DJ, Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, 58(4), 045001 (2016).
  • “Imaging free-falling particles for multipoint measurement of plasma fluctuations,” Roberts, TM, Mauel, ME, Abler, MC, Makansi, BK, Rev. Scientific Instr., 86(8) 083510 (2015).
  • “Local Regulation of Interchange Turbulence in a Dipole-Confined Plasma Torus using Current-Collection Feedback,” T. M. Roberts, M. E. Mauel, and M. W. Worstell, Physics of Plasmas, 22 055702 (2015).
  • “High-Speed Imaging of the Plasma Response to Resonant Magnetic Perturbations in HBT-EP,” Sarah M. Angelini, Jeffrey P. Levesque, Michael E. Mauel, Gerald A. Navratil, Rev. Sci. Instr., 57, 045008, (2015).
  • “Pressure profiles of plasmas confined in the field of a magnetic dipole”, M.S. Davis, M.E. Mauel, D.T. Garnier, and J. Kesner, Plasma Physics and Control Fusion, 56(9), 095021, (2014).
  • “Adaptive feedback control of rotating external kink modes in HBT-EP”, N Rath, S. Angelini, J. Bialek, P J Byrne, B DeBono, J P Levesque, M E Mauel, G A Navratil, Q. Peng, D. Rhodes, and C. Stoafer, Nuclear Fusion 53 (7), 073052 (2013).
  • “Fluctuation Driven Transport and Stationary Profiles,” J. Kesner, D.T. Garnier, and M.E. Mauel, Phys. of Plasmas, 18, 050703 (2011).
  • “Transport Induced by Large Scale Convective Structures in a Dipole-Confined Plasma,” Grierson, B.A.; Mauel, M.E.; Worstell, M.W.; Klassen, M., Physical Review Letters, 105, 205004 (2010).
  • “Turbulent inward pinch of plasma confined by a levitated dipole magnet”, Boxer, A. C. Bergmann, R. Ellsworth, J. L. Garnier, D. T. Kesner, J., Mauel, M. E. Woskov, P., Nature-Physics, 6, pp. 207-212 (2010).