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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences


Decadal Assessment of Plasma Science


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will conduct the Decadal Assessment of Plasma Science with support from the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Office of Naval Research. The committee's final report will aim to help federal agencies, policymakers, and academic leadership understand the importance of plasma research and make informed decisions about plasma science​ funding, workforce, and research directions.​ For more details, check out the Statement of Task.





As part of the Physics 2020 decadal assessment and outlook for physics, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will conduct a study of the past progress and future promise of plasma science and technology and provide recommendations to balance the objectives of the field in a sustainable and healthy manner over the long term. Specifically, the study committee will:

  1. Engage stakeholders in government, the plasma sciences communities, and industry to collect perspectives on the major achievements and challenges of the past decade and the most exciting and promising areas of plasma research anticipated for the next 10 years, as well as how plasma research impacts and is impacted by adjacent areas of science and technology.
  2. Assess the progress and achievements of plasma science over the past decade.
  3. Identify and articulate the major scientific questions and new opportunities that define plasma science as a discipline, noting connections to and the influence on other disciplines.
  4. Discuss the nature and importance of the U.S. role in multi-national plasma research activities.
  5. Assess the scope of international research across the breadth of plasma science and discuss the relative standing of U.S. activities.
  6. Discuss how plasma science has contributed and will likely contribute to U.S. national needs both in and beyond plasma science, including workforce development, economic prosperity, national defense, and other applications.
  7. Assess whether the present plasma science workforce and training opportunities are commensurate with future workforce needs.
  8. Assess and comment on the present role of, and future opportunities for, universities within large national programs organized around major research instruments or community assets (i.e., user facilities, satellites, telescopes, etc.).
  9. Assess whether the structure, program balance, and level of the current U.S. research effort in plasma science across the federal and private efforts are best positioned to realize the science opportunities.

The study committee's recommendations should not alter recommendations from the Decadal Strategy for Solar and Space Physics, the mid-decadal assessment of that report, or the ongoing study on Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research. The committee may make recommendations or offer comments on organizational structure, program balance, and funding, as appropriate, with discussion of the evidentiary bases.





Community input on key developments, challenges, and future directions for the field of plasma physics is critical for the success of this decadal survey. 


White Paper Guidelines (PDF) - updated 2/7/19

White Paper Submission Form

View Submitted White Papers and Comments


Although we cannot guarantee their content will receive the committee's full attention as the study proceeds, the call for input will remain open until the report enters review. Please contact M. Kushner ( about late submissions.




Telecon with Sponsor
May 17, 2019 from 3-4pm ET
Join here


Meeting #3
March 11-12, 2019


Virtual Meeting
March 5-6, 2019


Meeting #2
January 10-11, 2019

Beckman Center, Newport Room
Irvine, CA


Meeting #1 
October 15-16, 2018

Keck Center, Room 101
Washington, DC







Mark Kushner (NAE), Co-chair, University of Michigan
Gary Zank (NAS), Co-chair, University of Alabama Huntsville
Amitava Bhattacharjee, Princeton University
Peter Bruggeman, University of Minnesota
Troy Carter, University of California Los Angeles
John Cary, University of Colorado, Boulder
Christine Coverdale, Sandia National Laboratory
Arati Dasgupta, Naval Research Laboratory
Daniel Dubin, University of California, San Diego
Cameron G. R. Geddes, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Gail Glendinning, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Dan M. Goebel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
David B. Graves, University of California Berkeley
Judith T. Karpen, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Maxim Lyutikov, Purdue University
John S. Sarff, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Adam Sefkow, University of Rochester
Edward E. Thomas, Jr., Auburn University




    Town Hall at the APS Division of Plasma Physics Annual Meeting

in conjunction with the Gaseous Electronics Conference

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 from 7-9pm PT

Oregon Conference Center, Portland, OR

Learn more and apply to give a lightning talk during the town hall


NASA Goddard/University of Maryland, January 23, 2019
Dusty Plasma Workshop, Germany, January 2019
University of Colorado, 15 April 2019
PPPL, April 18, 2019
University of Rochester/LLE, May 16, 2019
Southeastern (Huntsville, AL), May 28, 2019 (Virtual option pending)
Southern California, late May
Northern California (LLBL, LLNL), Early June, (Virtual option pending)
ICOPS, June 24, 2019



Please email questions or comments to:


Chris Jones, Study Director


Jim Lancaster, Board Director






Plasma 2010

The Board on Physics and Astronomy has a long history of reports on the future of plasma science. Click the links below to download past reports for free:


Previous Plasma Decadals

Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest (2007)


Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications (1995)


Plasmas and Fluids (1986)


Relevant Studies

Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers: Reaching for the Brightest Light (2018)


Interim Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for US Burning Plasma Research (2018)


Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society (2013)  



Frontiers in High Energy Density Physics (2003)